Woman wearing Santa hat

The holidays can be one of the most wonderful times of the year, but they can also be one of the worst times of the year for acne. Many of us will be traveling to see family and friends and hoping to show off clear skin. Instead, we’re slathering on every skincare product we can think of to treat or hide a surprise breakout. Let’s talk about why this happens and how you can minimize breakouts.

View from airplane window

Airplane Acne is a Real Thing

If your skin is acne-prone and you travel a lot, you more than likely have gotten off of a plane and realized you had a bumpy stowaway on your face. We’re sad to report that airplane acne is real and it affects many jetsetters.

The air on airplanes tends to be drier and can irritate your skin no matter your skin type. If you already have dry skin, the dry air can force your pores into oil-production overload. If you have oily skin – you’re not immune either. The dry air can cause your pores to overcompensate as well, leading to excess oil and blocked pores.

So, how can you avoid airplane acne?

  1. Before heading to the airport, clean and moisturize your skin. A benzoyl peroxide wash like PanOxyl will clear any existing bacteria, excess oils and dead skin cells from your pores and help you start with a clean face. Next, seal in hydration with a non-comedogenic or oil-free moisturizer. This will help combat the dry air.
  2. During the flight, don’t touch your face. It’s easy to use your hand as a pillow on a crowded flight, but that’s an easy way to spread germs and bacteria to your pores.
  3. After you get off the plane, wash your face as soon as you can to clear away any bacteria or impurities.

Watch Your Stress Level

The holidays aren’t always comfort and joy. We all probably have one or two relatives we prefer to love from afar, so family gatherings can get uncomfortable. Then, there’s the stress of finding the perfect gifts — not to mention how expensive it all can be. Let’s not forget having to travel — sometimes for hours — in a car or airplane and navigate busy interstates or airports.

While stress doesn’t directly cause acne, stress can make your acne worse if you’re acne-prone. Acne is caused by blocked pores, some of which are caused by hormones — cortisol and androgens — that make your pores over-produce sebum (oil). Your body needs sebum to stay moisturized, but too much of it can cause pores to become inflamed and result in acne.

The first step toward reducing your stress level is identifying what stresses you. Once you’ve noted these instances, the next step is to come up with preventative strategies. This can be a lot of trial and error as you discover what works best for you.

Woman lying in bed with her hand pressed against her face

Lack of Sleep

The holidays can also cut into your beauty sleep, which can turn into a vicious no sleep, more stress, more acne cycle and can spell disaster for your skin. But why do we often have trouble sleeping on our grandmother’s couch or in a hotel bed?

Scientists call it the “first-night effect”. Research indicates that when you sleep in unfamiliar surroundings, only half of your brain is getting a good night’s rest. The other half is standing guard.

The bad news is this response is involuntary. It’s something your brain does automatically. Researchers say the effects tend to go away after the first night, but you may want to try to sneak in a nap when you can.


A Thanksgiving meal


Food and the holidays seem to go together. This often includes several starchy and sugary foods that are almost unavoidable. Research into how diet can affect acne is still preliminary. However, there are some studies that indicate foods rich in carbohydrates (stuffing, rolls, mashed potatoes, etc.) may make acne worse.

It’s impossible to avoid all starchy foods – especially when there is dessert involved. Practicing moderation can be the best option and give you the best of both worlds.

PanOxyl 4% wash and 10% wash

Stick to Your Routine

One of the best things you can do for your skin while traveling is to stick to your routine. If you use a cleanser every night at home, be sure to take it with you when you travel. Also, now is not the time to try anything new. There’s a chance your skin may have a reaction to a product you’ve never used, and you don’t want to have to deal with that while away from your bathroom cabinet.

Treatment and Prevention is Key

If you have acne-prone skin, the best way to prevent a breakout is to get ahead of it. PanOxyl breaks the acne cycle with a three step process: clear, treat and prevent. Our acne washes clear pores of excess oils, dead skin cells and acne-causing bacteria. Benzoyl peroxide — the key active ingredient in our washes — also has antibacterial actions to combat blocked pores before they have a chance to become pimples.