Look good and feel great on longhaul flights

Image credit: Petar Miloševi?, August 2007

You get on the plane full of excitement, with a bounce in your step.  A day later you arrive at your destination looking ten years older, smelling like you slept under a bridge,  fur on your teeth, wrinkled like a prune, clothes dishevelled and smelling mildewed, and hair caked and matted.  Okay, you may not exactly look like that, but you certainly feel like that.  If you have an important meeting you are going to lack confidence and project failure.  So here are some effective health and beauty tips for longhaul flights.

Since the terrorists won you can scarcely carry anything with you, not even an adequate amount of liquid, so it is a challenge to refresh and rejuvenate yourself.

Lets see what we can do to remedy those problems, within the allowable limits.


Borrow a trick from the French Court – powder your hair.  Do this once the plane starts its descent because you basically only have one shot at it.  You can get a small (50 gram) container of baby powder and take that in your hand luggage.  Go to the bathroom, shake small amounts into your hand at a time and rub it into your hair and scalp, then comb it out again.  This is not perfect but it will keep you going until you can wash your hair properly.


Make sure that you have a proper antiperspirant deodorant that lasts about a day.  Reapply it in flight.  You should be fine.

Do not splash on perfume.  It stinks and is offensive to the rest of us.  Worse yet, it merely masks body odours, so you end up with a not too pleasant combination of competing smells.  (I know, that also originated with the French Court, but we have to be selective in what we adopt.)

If you have an unfortunate tendency to get really smelly quickly then take a pack of antiseptic wet wipes with you and give yourself a quick wipe-down in the toilet before reapplying the deodorant.  Try this out before your journey to ensure that the antiseptic does not leave a residual smell of its own.  You do not want to end up smelling like a public toilet.


You want to stay hydrated.  That can be a bit of a challenge because the airconditioning on an aircraft leaves the air as dry as the Sahara.  And you are not allowed to take your own supply of fluids on board.

Alcohol has a diuretic effect.  While we are not determined to get roaring drunk in the plane, for those that take a drink it has a number of desirable effects, including helping one to be calm, and keeping the kidneys going.  So ensure that you drink additional other fluids to compensate for the dehydrating effect of the alcohol that you drink.

Do not overdo the hydration.  (The “eight glasses a day” fashion has been debunked)  Drink only if you are thirsty because drinking too much water is potentially harmful or even fatal.  Besides which, you do not want to spend the night queuing for the toilets.


The answer to fresh clothing is fresh clothing!  Unless you are trying to get bumped up to first class, dress in comfortable clothes.  A tracksuit (sweatsuit) is a pretty good choice.  If you are being met and will be taken directly to your meeting (or if you are famous and will have to face the paparazzi) then take a change of clothes in your carry-on bag.  Change after you have powdered your hair.  Just avoid getting powder on your smart clothes.

The other strategy is to pack smart clothes at the top of your checked-in luggage.  As soon as you have claimed your baggage, slip off to the airport toilet and change your clothes.  The advantage of this is that it solves the problem of what sort of shoes to wear.  (It can be difficult to fit smart shoes into carry-on luggage, besides which, if you are wearing a tracksuit and high heels the security men are going to give you evil glances, at the very least).

Feeling fresh

Brush your teeth after each meal.  The little comfort packs that airlines give out typically contain a mini-toothbrush and toothpaste.  One definitely feels better with clean gnashers.

Wash your face and hands.  You can even do this with wet wipes, from your seat.  It is not much, but it helps.

British Airways had a wellness kit some years ago that contained a witch hazel spray.  The idea was that you would spray it on you face and hands.  It reportedly acts as a skin moisturiser and also reduces the bags under your eyes.  You can get really small sprayers of 10 ml that will pass through the security inspection.

Perk up your eyes

It is a really cheap trick that works – cup your hands, fill them with cold water and apply this to your eyes.  Do it a number of times in succession.  I do not know if it really makes a visible difference, but it helps one to feel good and takes away the tiredness and the puffy feeling.  Wakes you up too.


Before leaving the plane, apply your usual make-up.  You will perk up considerably, particularly if you have used the other tips to spruce yourself up.

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