Why you should definitely wear sunscreen on the plane.

Hat. Sunglasses. Shoes that don’t give you blisters. Sunscreen. The basic list of holiday essentials when you’re travelling somewhere warm is firmly etched into our brains.

But while sunscreen is a non-negotiable when you arrive at your destination, it’s also pretty important for the plane journey there, too. We’re talking pack-in-your-hand-luggage-not-your-suitcase kind of important.

Always go for the window seat? Even more so.

Watch: The annoying habits of travellers. Post continues after video.

That’s because sun damage to your skin isn’t restricted to full-on sun exposure or even being outside – just sitting by, or near, a window is enough to warrant wearing SPF.

It was a piece of travel wisdom I was blissfully aware of until I was thumbing through Zoe Foster Blake‘s latest book Amazinger Face.

“Windows can let a heckload of UV in, on aeroplanes as well as in offices,” she writes.

Oh god.


Image: iStock

Plane windows may give you an incredible view, but they don't block UVA rays which have been proven to be associated with skin wrinkling, ageing and cancer. Plus, the higher up you are, the stronger the rays get.

"The dose of UVA at 20,000 feet is a lot bigger dose than you’d get on the surface of the Earth," Dr. James M. Spencer, a member of the board of directors of the American Academy of Dermatology, told the New York Times.

However, before you attempt to bathe yourself in SPF 50 prior to that long haul flight, it's not quite as scary as it sounds. (Post continues after gallery.)


"Though the window of an airplane doesn't have UV filters, it's so tiny that it's not very likely you'll experience significant damage from UV," says Emma Hobson, Education Manager for the International Dermal Institute and Dermalogica.

"The sunscreen in our moisturiser and or foundation will be more than adequate for the job."

She advises pulling down the shade if you're concerned.

Modern passenger aircrafts fly at an altitude of around 30,000 feet which, while high, is still obviously below the ozone layer which provides some filter.

However Dr. Mikhail Soutorine, Cosmetic & Regenerative Therapies Physician at Regeneration Clinics believes there's nothing wrong with getting into a good daily routine with your sunscreen.


Image: iStock

"It is always a good idea to get into the habit of wearing a good quality sunscreen every day,  especially when being exposed to light for extended periods (preferably a quality mineral sunscreen, one which is not laden with chemicals)," he says.

He recommends wearing a good quality moisturising sunscreen when flying on a plane to protect the skin from dehydration and long exposure to the dry air on the plane.

"It is also important to note that certain medications, skin treatments and other topical products can make your skin more vulnerable to sunlight, so again a good quality sunscreen is recommended daily."

It's advice that should be applied to travelling, no matter what your mode of transport.

"I think the bigger one that people don’t realise is their car, because they spend so much more time in their car," Dr Spencer said.


Image: iStock.

Do you wear sunscreen while travelling?