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Jet-Lagged Skin? Here’s How to Take Care of Your Skin After a Vacation.

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Forget about the Sunday Scaries—the travel tremors are much worse. After a week (or two or three) of exploring a new city, country or remote spot on the planet, boarding a flight back to reality can be soul-crushing. It isn’t only your psyche that takes a hit after returning from vacation, considering your skin must now adjust to its previous climate and condition. Board certified dermatologist Dr. Papri Sarkar says instead of seeing the negatives of coming back from an adventure, remember you’re being reunited with your skin care routine—and that’s a great thing! But you also have to keep in mind that this is something that requires a bit of time. After all, transitioning through time zones and recovering from sand-and-seat buildup requires a bit more effort, especially if you want to avoid breakouts or dehydrated skin.

What Happens to Your Skin While Traveling

Think about the last time you left the comfort of your front yard: what did you experience? From exotic foods to hidden beaches, part of the beauty of traveling is how it shakes you out of your comfort zone. All of these changes wreak havoc on your impressionable pores, though, and Dr. Sarkar says depending on where your wanderlust tempts you, you can experience a slew of side effects. “Your skin’s reaction depends on what climate you’re going to or coming from, but more than that, the low humidity of the plane air can lead to dry skin and make you more prone to breakouts. This may make your skin look dull and tired looking,” she explains. “That in combination with less sleep and alcohol that often accompanies trips can also lead to what looks like dark circles under the eyes.” Or in other words, your skin may need a vacation from your vacation.

How to Help Your Post-Vacation Skin

The first step in improving the overall condition of your skin, according to Dr. Sarkar, is attempting to get back to your healthy habits. This includes collecting enough Zzzs at night, eating whole foods and vegetables, exercising again and of course, drinking more water. Once you’ve started to hydrate and detox your body from the inside out, she stresses the importance of using the right products for your current skin situation. For example, “If you’ve broken out due to your travels, this is the time to go back to your actives or spot-treat your acne. Essentially, try to take a pause after you get back and give your skin what it needs in particular after your trip,” she recommends.

To help you get back on track, here are a few recommendations to revive your jet-lagged skin.

  1. 1. A rejuvenating eye cream
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    1. A rejuvenating eye cream

    Finally made it to Asia? After exploring endless temples and experiencing a culture that’s dramatically different than your own, you’re now heading back to work, ready to tell your travel stories. That is if you can keep your eyes open. Nearly every place in this region of the world forces stateside travelers to adjust to at least a 12-hour time difference, making returning home a jet-lag challenge. To keep your eyes looking bright and awake, consider a restorative cream like NeoCutis Lumiere Bio-restorative Eye Cream With PSP, which plumps and hydrates tired eyes. Enriched with skin-loving ingredients like hyaluronic acid and antioxidants, this is just what you need to flaunt your usual revitalized appearance.

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  2. 2. An at-home peeling treatment
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    2. An at-home peeling treatment

    After sampling your way through four European countries in two weeks, you’re even more in love with jet-setting but equally exhausted. And thanks to all that cheese and unfamiliar foods, you might be noticing some unwanted breakouts. To brighten, tone and smooth your skin, rub one of Sanitas Skincare Brightening Peel Pads along your t-zone. Made with glycolic, salicylic and lactic acid, your skin will recover from current zits, while preventing future ones, too.

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  3. 3. A hydrating face serum

    Want to look like you returned from a peaceful retreat to the shore, even if you feel like you spent five days binge drinking? Try Erno Laszlo Hydra-Therapy Boost Serum, which is infused with shea butter to leave your pores looking sun-kissed instead of hungover. Nourishing ingredients including papyrus vegetable sap and sea fennel help you to build, absorb and retain moisture, so your dry skin from the sun can take a hike.

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  4. 4. A refining body scrub
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    4. A refining body scrub

    Sorry, your boss probably won’t allow you to work from that beautiful island you just returned home from. But, you can at least pretend you’re still drifting asleep under the palm trees with a margarita in hand with Eminence Organic Skin Care Coconut Sugar Scrub. In addition to helping you recover from the trauma of removing your out-of-office email, it also cleans out your skin of dead dermal cells. Made with raw sugar cane, it’s more gentle than other scrubs, and the additional coconut oil keeps your skin feeling supple and soft.

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  5. 5. A moisture-replenishing cream
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    5. A moisture-replenishing cream

    Spent a bit too much time under the sunshine rays and now your face is red and flaky? To the rescue is SkinMedica Dermal Repair Cream. Dermatologist Dr. Michael H. Swann, MD says not only is this anti-aging and hydrating cream a great daily moisturizer, but the antioxidants in it also help your pores heal from free-radical damage and sun exposure. Apply a bit in the morning and night for optimal results.

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  6. 6. An overnight spot treatment
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    6. An overnight spot treatment

    As Dr. Sarkar mentioned, returning to your steadfast and loyal spot treatment after a vacay will help tame your pores from congestion. If you haven’t found one that’s right for you, consider Indie Lee’s Blemish Lotion. It’s robust with colloidal sulfur that absorbs oil and salicylic acid to clean out grime, bacteria and gunk. The additional mineral clay is said to remove toxins and give your skin an extra layer of protection against future pimples.

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  7. 7. An exfoliating toner

    Dr. Sarkar says an exfoliator can help you go from looking dull after a vacation to radiating that out-of-office glow. Her pick is Pixi by Petra’s Glow Tonic. If you’re new to exfoliation, the five-percent glycolic acid found in this formula is a gentler solution that penetrates pores, while offering a low concentration of aloe vera that purifies skin.

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Writer and Editor

Lindsay Tigar

Lindsay Tigar is a travel and lifestyle journalist who contributes to a myriad of publications—from Travel + Leisure and Vogue to Glamour and countless others. She's a digital nomad who works from every corner of the globe, scoping out the best coffee, collecting artisan crafts and testing every beauty product she can find. You can find a collection of her work at