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5 Tips to Care for Dry Hair on a Long Flight

Yes, airplane hair is a thing.
March 07, 2022


Airplane skin — we’ve all experienced the uncomfortable skin dryness while flying one time or another. Well, as it turns out, airplane hair is a thing, too.

While traveling 36,000 feet up in the air, the humidity in aircraft cabins usually falls to less than 20 percent (as opposed to the normal 30 percent), according to the World Health Organization (WHO). This, in return, can suck out a lot of the moisture from your skin, leaving you with an incredibly parched, tight and dehydrated complexion.

And according to L’Oréal Paris expert and celebrity hairstylist Jonathan Colombini, the low humidity at such a high altitude can also do a number on your hair. Just as skin becomes dry in the air, hair also loses its much-needed moisture and nourishment. As a result, your strands can look dull and lifeless, feel rough and brittle, and even develop breakage and split ends — no thanks.

Luckily, the effects of airplane hair are treatable. It all comes down to the nourishing products you use and when you apply them. Ahead, we share the best tips for taking care of hair on a long flight so you can step off the runway feeling and looking model chic.

1.  Prep Your Hair Before Take-Off

Before you board or even arrive at the airport, it’s important to take precautionary measures to help prevent hair dryness and damage. That means reaching for hair care products with ultra-nourishing ingredients that deeply condition. Colombini recommends using the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Total Repair 5 collection since it’s “amazing for replenishing anything that’s lacking [moisture].” 

Start your hair care routine with the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Total Repair 5 Repairing Shampoo and the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Total Repair 5 Repairing Conditioner. For an extra boost of hydration, use a hair mask — like the L'Oréal Paris Elvive Total Repair 5 Damage Erasing Balm Rinse-Out Mask — in place of the conditioner. Its formula contains a multitude of powerhouse ingredients that intensely hydrate hair, leaving it feeling smoother, nourished and stronger. 

2. Layer On Nourishing Hair Products

Colombini also suggests applying nourishing products — such as lightweight serums, oils and leave-in conditioners — while on a flight to protect and add moisture to your mane. Try the L'Oréal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Oil Treatment or the L'Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Frizz Killer Serum Leave-In to tame flyaways, add shine and revive lifeless hair. Just be sure to run a dime-size amount through your mid-lengths to ends, avoiding the roots, to prevent a weighed-down look.

For an extra dose of hydration for curly-haired folks, try the L'Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Non-Stop Dreamy Curls Leave-In Conditioner. It’s formulated with an impressive cocktail of hyaluronic acid and castor oil, which both help moisturize, define and preserve all types of curls.

Editor’s tip: The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) only allows travel-size containers that are 3.4 ounces or less on carry-on bags. So if you plan to care for your hair on your flight, make sure to have a travel-size product or transfer your oils, serums and creams into a smaller container.

3. Wear A Loose Hairstyle

When you’re on a long flight, avoid very tight hairstyles with elastic scrunchies (think: sleek ponytails and ballerina buns). Tighter ‘dos can pull and tug at your strands, while elastics can cause friction, leading to unwanted hair breakage and damage.

Instead, wear your hair loosely in a low ponytail or a braid with friction-free hair ties, clips or bobby pins that won’t wreak havoc on your hair. For those with a natural texture, you can wrap your tresses in a silk or satin headscarf to protect your spirals and coils and prevent any frizz or flyaways.

4. Use A Silk or Satin Travel Pillow

On overnight flights, make sure you get your beauty sleep on a silk travel pillow. Pillowcases made from cotton tend to be rougher on the hair and can cause breakage, frizz and tangles. When you switch to a silk or satin option, you can avoid unnecessary hair damage while you snooze. 

5. Refresh Post-Flight 

Upon landing, revive lifeless hair post-flight by spritzing on dry shampoo. This will add texture and volume, and also soak up any oils on your scalp. You can also spray a bit of the L'Oréal Paris Elnett Extra Strong Hold (Travel Size) throughout your mane to add shine and hold your look in place.

Next: 6 TSA-Friendly Skin Care Products for Your Post-Vaccine Travels

Written and photographed by: Sophie Dweck

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