You Should Avoid Taking A Hot Shower After A Flight For One Important Reason

As much as we love planes for connecting us with destinations worldwide, there's no denying that being cooped up inside the flying metal tube for hours can make you feel all sorts of grimy. After all, planes aren't exactly the cleanest places, with a 2014 study conducted by researchers from Auburn University noting that they harbor various bacteria, including E. Coli and MRSA. What's more, the cabin's low humidity levels can dehydrate your skin, leaving it feeling extra parched. It's for this very reason you might want to reconsider indulging in a long, hot shower post-flight.

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"All travel methods, especially planes and trains, involve large commercial vehicles with artificial air circulation systems," Dermatologist Scott Flugman, MD, told Everyday Health. "This results in prolonged exposure to dry heating and cooling methods, which can result in a significant loss of moisture in the skin." 

The duo feeling of both grubby and dry can make the idea of a scorching hot shower upon hotel check-in all the more irresistible, but doing so could only exacerbate your skin's dryness. "Hot water strips the skin of its natural oils and healthy bacteria, which plays a major role in keeping moisture in—and the bad stuff out," explained aesthetician Rhea Souhleris Grous to Apartment Therapy. "And because dryness triggers the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum, hot water can worsen preexisting acne or cause a breakout."

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Tackling the so-called 'airplane skin'

The desert-like state of your skin after a flight is apparently called "airplane skin." To avoid that, you ought to do more than just dodge the post-flight hot shower. Experts suggest ramping up on the moisture even before you board the plane, and according to board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, M.D., heavy-duty hydrators are best, telling NBC News that you should look for moisturizers with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and shea butter. "The more hydrated your skin is before boarding the plane, the better foundation you have to start off with when you are flying," Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, told Self. You may even want to turn your flight into a little spa session by popping on a mask, too. "A sheet mask is a great option for the airplane because it is at the same time effective, easy to use, and portable," he added.

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And while it seems counterintuitive, exfoliating is also recommended, with celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau telling Well+Good that doing so can do wonders in sloughing off dead cells and renewing your skin. "When you arrive at your destination, cleanse your skin and use a mild facial scrub to remove surface dry skin cells," she explained. "Be sure to avoid facial scrubs containing natural grains such as apricot kernels, walnut husks, and almonds as the sharp edges can scratch and irritate the skin. Instead, use scrubs containing natural jojoba beads or polylactic acid beads."

Take a cold shower instead

If the thought of skipping a shower after a long flight is unthinkable to you, resist cranking up the heat and take a cold one instead. It turns out that cold showers yield a number of surprising benefits, as per Medical News Today, including reduced inflammation, a decrease in stress levels, and boosting metabolism. Not sure how to endure one? Majdoline Jayoushe, MD, a specialist in internal medicine and associate professor at the Mount Sinai Faculty Practice Primary Care Associates, suggests embracing a gradual approach until your body acclimates to the temperature. "Start with just a few seconds of exposure to cold water," she told Vogue. "Over time as your body adapts, try increasing your exposure by five seconds with each shower until you are able to tolerate the cold water for at least 30 seconds."

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If you're coming off from a particularly lengthy flight and crossed time zones, a cold shower can also help you beat jetlag quicker as well, as it helps wake your body. "Taking a shower on the coldest setting could theoretically trigger a hormone response akin to what normally occurs waking up – helping to put you back on track," science journalist Max Lugavere explained to Air Help. "I do this regularly and when I'm fatigued the cold makes my brain feel like it's coming back 'online.'"

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