Tips for looking good after a flight

ultra repair cremeTravel is part of the job for many of us, and heading to the office directly from the airport is often an unfortunate necessity. Even though you may feel exhausted and travel-weary, it is possible to avoid the travel-worn look that is the hallmark of many road warriors. No one has to know you woke at 4am or just traveled across the Pacific! Here are my tips for looking good after a flight.

For all flights:

  •  Wear comfortable, wrinkle resistant clothes. This may be the most important thing of all.  The easiest way to look good during and after travel: clothes that don’t wrinkle.   Nothing says, “I just got off a plane,” like a crumpled shirt and creased skirt.  There are plenty of wrinkle-resistant, non-iron clothes out there. Trust me, this is not the time to wear your new linen suit, no matter how cute and professional it is. Flying is also not the time to wear spiked heels. If what you are wearing isn’t comfortable on the ground, there is no way it will be comfortable at 33,000 feet with pressure changes. I highly recommend flats instead.   On several of my flights to Manila I’ve worn yoga pants and a long sleeved t-shirt. Maybe not the most fashionable, but I was comfy during all of my 24 hours of flying.  If you want to look great when you get off the plane but feel like you’re wearing PJs try wearing leggings, a tunic or dress, cardigan, and comfy flats.
  • Stay hydrated. This is important for comfort, health, and looking good. Drink at least 8 oz of water for every hour you are flying.  This will keep you from getting dehydrated, which in turn keeps you feeling more alert and prevents your skin from feeling like sandpaper.  For an international flight drinking 8 oz every hour will be much more challenging but it’s a good goal  to shoot for.
  • Freshen up upon arrival. Once you land, head to the ladies’ room to repair any damage that may have occurred to hair or makeup during the flight.

For longer flights:

  • Compression socks. They will make you more comfortable, keep your ankles from swelling, and reduce your risk of deep-vein thrombosis. They even have cute ones now!
  • Put your hair back. If you have longer hair, pull it back (preferably not on the back of your head). My favorite styles are a low ponytails,  side braid, and topknot. These styles keep your hair controlled, gets it out of your way, and minimize the crimp that can happen when you have a higher ponytail. It also allows you to comfortably rest your head against the seat.
  • Beauty necessities. There are a few toiletry items you can bring that can make the difference between your skin feeling like sandpaper or, well, like skin when you land. I recommend heavy lip balm, hand lotion, hydrating mist, facial moisturizer, and disposable toothbrush. Don’t forget that this stuff has to go in a ziplock bag to go through security.
  • Bring the things you need to sleep.  For me, nothing is more frustrating than being exhausted on a plane and not able to sleep. Sleeping on the plane allows you to get the rest you need so that you wake up feeling refreshed, or at least not zombie like, when you get to your destination.  To help me sleep I bring a pillow, blanket or pashmina, eyemask, Tylenol PM (usually use this as last resort), noise canceling headphones, and my White Noise app which plays through my headphones.
  • Avoid mascara. This doesn’t work for everyone, but if you feel comfortable going without mascara for the flight I highly recommend it. It’s an easy way to avoid the raccoon look on a red-eye. Or, you can…..
  • Do your morning routine. Wash your face, brush your teeth, brush your hair, and refresh your makeup before landing. Once you wake up, nothing feels better or more eye-opening than washing your face. It helps get rid of the travel grime, and gives you a fresh canvas for applying makeup. I like to use face cleansing wipes. For brushing your teeth, you can use your normal toothbrush or a disposable one. Finally, going through an airplane friendly makeup routine will make you look your best and feel ready to take on the world, and hide the fact that you slept on a 757.
  • If that’s not an option….. If you’re flying in Economy and you don’t think you can get a few minutes in the lav to freshen up, use the face cleansing wipes at your seat. You can chew gum or use a disposable toothbrush to make your mouth feel fresh, and probably even apply minimal makeup.
  • Put on fresh clothes. Some people like to wear something very comfortable for sleeping on the plane, and then change into their business outfit for the day immediately upon arriving. It’s definitely one way to avoid the wrinkles you get when sleeping in your clothes, but may not be feasible for everyone.

Readers, how do you look fresh after a long flight?


Be sure to check out my page with products I recommend for travel!

Shop icon

Have a travel question or suggestion? Send it to RW

Follow Road Warriorette on TwitterFacebook, and Pinterest!

This post may include affiliate links. Thanks for your support!



  1. I do a 36-hours-each-way jaunt about five or six times a year round trip. I’ve found that freshening up after I land in an actual bathroom works much better than trying to navigate an (often disgusting) airplane lav.

    Also, I love the Oil of Olay cleansing washcloths. I find that the chemicals on a lot of the wet facial cloths often upset my eyes and skin, but just using the Olay dry cloths that you wet in the bathroom not only doesn’t bother my eyes/skin as much, but makes me feel much more clean and “normal.”

    Finally, should go without saying, but don’t wear your contacts on a red-eye. I made that mistake once, and never again.

  2. Great tips here! I really like the Clinique Moisture Surge moisturiser for on a flight – I like to clean my face after take-off (especially if I’ve had make-up on during the day) and then apply plenty of moisturiser. At the end of a flight I like to use Simple micellar water or Lush toners to freshen up, and then I brush my teeth. I’d also recommend the Simple face wipes. If I needed to look particularly smart on arrival (and it was a long flight) I would travel in a casual outfit and pack a smart outfit in my carry on case to change into either on the plane or in arrivals. Much better to be comfy on the flight and not be worrying about creases in your suit!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.