Acne-prone, oily skin can be hard to deal with on a regular basis. It’s even more difficult to deal with when you’re traveling. Traveling is stressful: catching flights, packing according to guidelines, forgetting essentials, lines, crowds, tiny seats for hours on end… The stress is endless.

The last thing anyone with acne-prone, oily skin wants to worry about is how travel-induced stress will affect their face.

Over the past two years, I have learned what products really help clear acne and scaring. I have also learned what additional measures I should take before traveling. I don’t have any photos of my scaring or acne to show my skin’s improvements since changing my skincare routine. But I will talk about my everyday products, spot treatment tips and travel hacks for people with acne-prone, oily skin.

But first…

Why does oily skin become oilier whilst traveling?

The key to understanding why your face becomes oiler while traveling is understanding what conditions your skin is exposed to. Whether you’re flying, driving, or riding on a train, the air you are surrounded with is likely circulated and dehumidified. This means the air will try to draw moisture from whatever it can, including your skin. For people with dry skin, this means their skin becomes more dry. But for people with oily skin, their skin will produce more oil and sebum to compensate for the dry air. It’s a vicious cycle for people with acne-prone skin. But now we know our skin becomes oilier to counteract the air sucking it dry.

It took me a long time to realize that having oily skin does not mean I can skip moisturizer. It also took me a long time to realize that drying out my skin with 5% benzoyl peroxide or doctor-prescribed Retin-A (a drying vitamin-A cream) was causing my skin to rebel with more oil and sebum. So instead of drying out oily skin, here are what oils and moisturizers work well for our skin type.

 What I use to keep my oily skin under control

Lush Cosmetic’s Movis face wash was a game changer in my skin care routine. It is jam-packed with Vitamin E, a powerful acne-clearing antioxidant that helps stop sebum from oxidizing. After two months of using it twice daily, my acne and scaring along my jawline had disappeared. My colour-blind boyfriend even noticed! Like all Lush products, it’s made with natural ingredients and is free from animal testing. It also smells like cake!

Another Lush product I’m particularly fond of is their Tea Tree Water toner. After washing my face, I spritz the toner onto my face and neck to keep excess oils in check. Tea tree oil, juniper berry and grape fruit act as calming astringents in the toner. It’s also alcohol-free so it won’t dry out your skin.

Vitamin C Serum is a fairly recent addition to my skin care routine. I picked some up in September as a treat, as vitamin C is heralded as an instant skin brightener. Not only did I discover how true this is, but vitamin C is also great for acne treatment. Vitamin C deactivates free radicals so that vitamin E can swoop in and protect your skin from blocked pores. I use a pea-sized amount of the vitamin C serum on my T-zone every other evening.

I’ve also been loving Rosehip Oil. I had heard two things about rosehip oil before testing it out for myself. One, it was the natural version of Retin-A. And two, it’s great for clearing acne scaring quickly because of its high levels of omega fatty acids. I mainly use it along my  jawline every other evening to help get rid of any new spots and scarring.

To seal in my toner, I use Spectrum Organic Virgin Coconut Oil. One of my coworkers and I were bonding over acne woes, and she revealed that organic virgin coconut oil is great for acne-prone skin. Coconut oil has anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties that kill acne-causing bacteria. I use a dime-sized on my face every morning and night to ensure the oil can absorb into my skin.

During the summer, I find coconut oil is too heavy under sunscreen, so I use Avène After Sun Milk. Avène’s products are great for anyone needing hypoallergenic and sensitive skin products. It uses thermal spring water that has unique minerals and microflora that calm irritated skin. Although the lotion is a body lotion, it’s so silky and watery that my face doesn’t break out. I also use Avene SPF 50 Sunscreen during the sunny months, again because of its light, watery consistency.

How I take care of spots

Although my daily skincare routine has pretty much zapped all pimples and scarring, my skin is not completely immune to zits. In the off chance that I get spots now, I now swear by Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil. Tea tree oil is a better, natural alternative to 5% benzoyl peroxide. It’s not as drying as benzoyl peroxide, and it has anti-bacterial properties that help clear pores. I tend to use tea tree oil at night, as it has a very strong smell. To treat a pimple, I will use a Q-tip to apply the oil directly onto the spot. In 2-5 nights, the pimple will completely disappear. I also apply Rosehip Seed Oil to the spot once it is no longer raised to prevent scarring.

If I can feel a breakout coming on, I turn to Lush’s Dark Angels charcoal scrub to stop it. The charcoal, black sugar and mud base act as a gentle exfoliatant to help turn over dead, pore-clogging skin cells, and absorb dirt and toxins from your pores. It’s best to use it 2-3 times a week, like other exfoliants, to prevent skin irritation.

How to stop excess oil and breakouts while traveling

Now that we have my skin care routine out in the open, let’s get to some travel hacks that will save your skin from breakouts.

Firstly: If you’re having trouble keeping your skin clear regularly, I would recommend trying out the above products. If you’ve already tried the above Lush products without success, talk to their staff to find a product that works for your skin. I really believe in using natural products, as they tend to be less taxing on your skin. (Skin is your largest organ, after all.)

If your skincare routine works for you, then let’s talk about how to deal with acne-prone, oily skin while traveling.

As I mentioned above, traveling means you’re dealing with circulated, moisture-less air. One of the best ways to counteract this is to not wear make-up while traveling. Although it is nice to seem “presentable” while traveling, you really don’t need it when you’re stuck inside a moving vehicle. As the air sucks moisture from your skin, the make-up on your face will feel gross after a day of traveling. Plus make-up holds onto dirt and pollution, which let free radicals take free reign once your skin loses its moisture. (Read: Acne haven.)

On travel days, I use my serums in my skincare routine before traveling to keep my skin hydrated. I also bring a small container of coconut oil with me to reapply when my skin feels dry. Applying moisturizer directly to your skin is the best way to maintain skin hydration, apart from drinking water. I do not recommend using face mists, as they evaporate much quicker than their more viscous counterparts.

Another travel tip that I cannot recommend enough is Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets. A friend gave one of hers after a flight from Paris to Montreal, Canada. I ended up needing a second one, and being to embarrassed to ask for a third. The sheets literally feel like you’ve washed your face without actually having to. The sheets collect only the oil from your face, so any make-up will remain in-tact. (In case you’re using blotting sheets on non-travel days.)

Other tidbits worth mentioning

Besides my daily and travel products, I also use birth control to help clear up my acne. I will stress that it did not completely clear my face for the three years I had been using it before switching my skincare routine over to the aforementioned Lush products. But for the sake of total transparency, I thought I should mention it.

I also do my best to drink at least 1.5 L of water every day and keep caffeine to a minimum. It’s important to ramp up your water intake before traveling to at least 2L a day to prepare your skin for the dehydration it will face. I always either bring a reusable metal water bottle with me to the airport or buy a 1L water bottle once I’m through security for the flight.

I also find that eating a mainly plant-based diet helps keep my skin clear. Whenever I traveled and ate some meat and dairy, I found that my skin would break out. As I mainly get hormonal acne, I believe it’s due to the antibiotics and hormones used in those industries. Obviously, a plant-based diet isn’t for everyone. But consuming meat and dairy in moderation will limit the amount of added antibiotics and hormones in your body. You could also source local butchers and dairy farmers who don’t use hormones or antibiotics on their livestock.


Write A Comment