The Best Acne Treatments To Keep Your Skin From Breakouts While Traveling
- February 15, 2023
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I once made the mistake of seeing my dermatologist shortly after spending 10 hours on a plane. I mentioned this to him as he wondered out loud why my skin was throwing its own inflamed version of a tantrum. “Ah,” he said. “So that’s why you’re breaking out.”
Air travel can trigger an outbreak for a number of reasons. One of the biggest, according to Kenneth Howe, MD, a dermatologist at Wexler Dermatology in New York City, is “the stress of flying.” When something stressful happens, like an unexpectedly long security line or a three-hour delay, your body responds by producing more cortisol, which can trigger oil production. This excess oil can clog pores and lead to a breakout.
Another factor is the dry air in the aircraft cabin, which robs skin of moisture and can lead to both dehydration and irritation. “When the skin is easily irritated, it is more likely to become inflamed and inflamed [lead to] more acne,” explains Jeremy Fenton, MD, a dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology in New York City. By the time you reach baggage claim, a breakout is already in the works.
If you don’t have the space to pack drugstore-value products, your best bet is an acne treatment. They’re often small — well below the size permitted by the TSA — and powerful, which means they get to work right away. We’ve rounded up the most travel-friendly products (think thin tubes and liquid-free patches) to make clear skin a breeze.
This article has been updated with new information since the original publication date.
For all skin types
Patchology Breakout Box 3-in-1 Acne Treatment Kit
Not all pimples are created equal, which is why this set offers three types of patches to target the most common types. Points of salicylic acid target the pore-clogging dirt in your average pimple, clay and activated charcoal stickers remove blackheads, and hydrocolloid patches eliminate blackheads in a snap. Bonus: The thin, almost weightless sheets won’t add bulk to your luggage.
For dry skin
Philosophy Clear Days Ahead Fast acting acne treatment
This smart treatment takes a two-pronged approach, first targeting dead skin cells with salicylic acid and then zapping acne-causing bacteria with antimicrobial ingredients. “Salicylic acid works in part by exfoliating the top layer of skin to keep pores clean,” explains Fenton. Though the formula is potent, it counteracts dryness and redness that can occur with nourishing squalane oil, so you can apply it without worrying about dandruff or inflammation.
For oily or combination skin
Proactiv immediate help against skin blemishes
Benzoyl peroxide is known for its ability to eliminate the bacteria that cause and worsen breakouts, but it has a similarly known downside. “Benzoyl peroxide tends to have a drying effect, which explains why it’s better tolerated by oilier skin types than dry or sensitive skin types,” says Howe. In this particular formula, benzoyl peroxide is in microcrystal form, which means it can penetrate deep into the affected pore to clear things up. And it’s paired with allantoin, a soothing herbal extract that can help balance dryness.
For acne-prone skin
Clinique Acne Solutions clinical cleansing gel
Technically, this isn’t a true spot treatment. Although you could certainly use it individually by dabbing on individual pimples, the salicylic acid-enriched formula is meant to be used all over the face. This can go a long way — if you already know you’re prone to acne, there’s not much point in chasing new pimples as soon as they appear. Instead, it may be worth taking preventive measures. “[Salicylic acid] prevents the pores from clogging in the first place and prevents the cascade of events that leads to larger and more inflamed cysts,” explains Fenton.
For skin prone to acne scars
Mighty Patch Original by Hero Cosmetics
Although hydrocolloid patches are often credited with “sucking” the dirt out of blackheads – thus draining them – they are just as useful once the pimple has broken open. Hydrocolloid is known for its wound healing properties as it creates a clean, moist environment that is ideal for skin regeneration. Another advantage: as subsequent plucking is prevented, a pimple can heal undisturbed and scarring is minimized.