Our mothers always warned us that if we didn’t put on our sunscreen, we would look like old hags when we got older. Every small second we think we see a wrinkle we worry it’s because that one time our face got burned because we didn’t listen to her wise words. I know, I have been there. It seems so obvious as an adult that sunscreen is essential when you’re on the beach or you’re spending a lot of time outside gardening, biking, etc. However, what doesn’t seem so obvious is that you should be wearing it on an airplane.
I travel a decent amount. It seems like more lately because everyone I know on this good Earth has decided to get married. That being said, I love window seats but never thought about the impact this could have on my skin.
Dermatologist Doris Day, MD told Travel + Leisure “The fact is, flying at 30,000 feet [for 60 minutes] can be as dangerous as 20 minutes in a tanning bed.”
That’s crazy to think about right? An hour flight can cause so much damage without us even noticing or realizing what’s happening to us. The planes do have windows that block harmful UVB rays, but Ultra Violet Rays can still penetrate through those windows. This could be very harmful if you’re flying in the daylight and have a window seat.
“Given the elevated level, the UV rays don’t have to travel as far to cause damage and can be much more intense at higher altitudes,” dermatologist Marisa Garshick, MD, said. “It is important to protect from UVA rays in addition to UVB, as UVA rays can lead to skin aging as well as skin cancer.”
How can you best protect yourself and your skin from these harmful rays while traveling? The ideal thing to do is to get broad-spectrum sunblock and use it before you take off. It must at least be SPF 30.
“The sunscreen should be applied approximately 30 minutes before a flight, and you should remember to reapply every two hours, especially if you are traveling on a long flight,” Dr. Maria Garshick added.
I know it might not be the most convenient thing to do and the smell of sunscreen isn’t my favorite, but if it’s to protect yourself from wrinkles and cancer I think we can manage. The person sitting next to you on your flight might complain about the sunblock smell, but you can always use that moment to educate them on the UVA rays coming through the plane windows.
You might even make a new friend while traveling. Plus if you’re sitting next to your family, they definitely won’t care what you do, because they will already understand why you are doing it. Either way, travel safely and stay safe out there. The world can be more dangerous in many different ways than we realize!