Skincare for Travel to a Dry Climate

If you’ve ever taken a trip to an area with a different climate than you’re used to, like traveling from Florida to Colorado, for example, you’ve probably experienced dry, dehydrated skin. This can cause your complexion to appear dull, flaky, and wrinkled. Read on to find out why this happens and what you can do to keep your skin looking and feeling great while on vacation.

Natural Moisturizing Factor

In order to stay properly hydrated, your skin produces what’s called natural moisturizing factor, or NMF. This is primarily made up of a group of amino acids, which pull moisture into your skin from the air. Interestingly, your skin is able to adjust how much NMF it produces, based on how much moisture it needs. If you live in an area where the air tends to be very humid, your skin will naturally make less NMF than it would if you lived in a low-humidity climate. Click here to see a Youtube video that explains more about NMF.

For this reason, when you travel from an area with high humidity to an area with low humidity, your skin is functioning with decreased NMF, so it suddenly looks dry in the drier climate. When your skin is dry, dead skin cells accumulate on the surface, which creates a rough texture rather than the smoother texture of hydrated skin. The rougher surface does not reflect light as well. Your skin looks older due to the tiny dry cracks and poor light reflection.

The good news is that your skin will naturally rehydrate itself on its own, but will need about three days to ramp up enough NMF production to accommodate the change in climate. It does this by gradually “turning on” NMF production in additional, deeper, layers of your skin over the three days. If you live in a high-humidity environment, your skin most likely only produces NMF in the topmost layer. When you travel to a low-humidity environment, your skin begins to produce NMF in the lower layers of your skin and no longer just in the epidermis.

Tips for Maintaining Great Skin While Traveling

You might notice that for the first few days in a new climate, your skin feels dry and itchy, but by day three, it starts to look and feel like normal. Click here to learn why this occurs. While you’re waiting for your skin to adjust, you can use a good barrier repair moisturizer like Zerafite Barrier Repair to help diminish dryness and the unwanted effects that come with it. You can also use a creamy cleanser that will deposit lipids on your skin, such as Nia 24 Cleansing Cream, or apply an oil that contains beneficial lipids (such as linoleic acid) in oils like Dermarose Transforming Oil.  The oil will coat your skin preventing evaporation of water from the skin’s surface. As always, make sure you’re using daily sunscreen, even if you’re vacationing in the snowy mountains, as sun exposure can worsen dry, flaky skin.

Packing List for Travel to a Dry Climate

  1. Creamy Cleanser (Non-foaming) such as PCA Skin Creamy Cleanser,  VMV Hypoallergenic Moisture Rich Creammmy Cleansing Milk, NIA24 Gentle Cleansing Cream, or IS Clinical Cream Cleanser
  2. Barrier Repair Moisturizer such as Zerafite Barrier Repair Moisturizer
  3. Facial Oil such as Shea Terra Organics Argan and Rose Oil,  Dermarose Transformation Oil, or PAORR Moroccan Argan Oil
  4. Sunscreen
  5. Body Cream such as Zerafite Ultra Rich Body Cream, Cerave Cream or Cetaphil Cream.

In Summary

While keeping your skin properly hydrated should be a part of your regular skincare routine, this is especially important when you’re traveling. Keep in mind that traveling on a plane causes your skin to become dehydrated because the airplane air has very little humidity. Applying a facial oil or a barrier repair moisturizer (or both!) on the flight will prevent this.

Although we haven’t discovered a way to make skin produce more NMF just yet, choosing the right topical products can help to seal in moisture while your skin naturally adjusts on its own. Just be sure that the products you’re using are appropriate for your unique Baumann Skin Type. Otherwise, you could be unknowingly contributing to your skin’s dryness.

For more information about how to find your skin type, visit or find a physician partner in your area. Wishing you happy travels and beautiful skin!


Dr. Leslie Baumann, M.D. and her team at Baumann Cosmetic Dermatology believe in proof, not promises. World-recognized for both cosmetic and general dermatology, our treatment strategies rely exclusively on evidence-based, scientifically verified products and procedures that promote skin health and a natural appearance. We combine effective medical procedures with individualized instruction on proper skincare, nutrition, supplementation and lifestyle in order to maximize the health of the skin and body as a whole while minimizing the effects of aging. For more, visit Dr. Baumann’s blog for daily updates Monday through Friday, or inquire about an appointment through

April 10, 2017 Eczema/Dry Skin, Skincare