I’ve written about my own in-flight beauty routine before, but if we’re being honest, I’m just a super high-maintenance passenger who takes a couple of short haul flights a year. My good friend Kate, on the other hand, is an actual expert on the topic. As a flight attendant, she’s no stranger to how not-so-friendly the skies can be on your skin.

“Whether you’re a flight attendant like me, or a frequent flyer, the integrity of your skin changes,” Kate explains. She’s required to wear makeup in the air, so she follows a strict routine to protect her skin.

In fact, thanks to her five-step routine, Kate’s actually seen an improvement in her skin — yep, even flying almost every day! And I’m over here like, yes, a Neutrogena cleansing wipe totally counts as a complete skincare routine. Anyway, here’s Kate’s full routine, step by step and straight from the source:

  1. Wash my face (of course). I use DHC Deep Cleansing Oil day and night, and I think that this product alone has changed my skin for the better.
  2. Toner. I always ignored toner in the past, and I feel like adding it to my daily routine, especially before I fly, has helped with preventing acne. I spray Mario Badescu Aloe, Rosewater + Herbs spray onto still wet skin and press it in. I also spray this on my face several times inflight, and I think it helps!
    (Note from A Little Leopard: I love love love this spray too! It’s my favorite after a workout, and I keep another bottle in the fridge at home. Yes, in the fridge. It feels amazing. Okay, carry on.)
  3. Serum, and I rotate between two: SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic (get that vitamin C!) or Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair (yeah, I use it during the day and that’s okay with me, I really love it) — it’s one product I have used for several years, and I feel like it has aided in me not having the most grotesque skin of all time.
  4. SUNDAY RILEY TIDAL CREAM! This water cream is now my holy grail face cream and I wish I had it four or five months ago. I also use this day and night and it makes the texture of my skin much better. Even if I don’t put on makeup primer, this primes well.

SPF is also super important when you fly, since the UV radiation is much stronger at 30,000 feet than it is on the ground. Kate uses a Mario Badescu SPF every day to protect her skin, and even got her pilot boyfriend to use it, too.

Kate’s other biggest tip? “DRINK A LOT OF WATER. No one drinks enough water when they fly.” I feel like my habit of chugging a liter of Fiji or Smartwater every time I fly is now totally justified. Sorry, seatmates, I know I’m getting up to pee every 20 minutes, but my skin is going to look so much better than yours when we land!

If you’re a passenger, Kate also recommends complete makeup removal in air. Because really, unless you’re sitting next to Jake Gyllenhaal, who are you trying to impress on the plane?

Speaking of celebs, though: “I once had a Very Famous passenger, who had the most incredible skin and is in her 60’s, and she boarded the flight in full makeup…and when she sat down, she had Neutrogena wipes, and promptly used a couple of them to remove her makeup. She sprayed her skin with a facial spray I did not recognize (it was in a personal travel bottle) and she pressed it into her skin,” Kate shares. “That’s what inspired me to ‘press’ sprays and toners into my skin, and when I asked her about it, she couldn’t have been nicer and more graceful. She slathered on a heavy face cream and eye serum and went to sleep. Wonderful!”

Side note: I have also recently started pressing serums and moisturizers into my skin after seeing it on Into the Gloss or something, and it’s a legit thing.

Of course, makeup removal is just as important as prepping your skin. Kate follows the same basic routine at night, except she uses Sunday Riley Sleeping Oil in lieu of a serum. If her skin is feeling extra thirsty, she’ll moisturize with Murad Hydro-Dynamic cream.

While luxe products like Sunday Riley and Clarins are very much worth the splurge, they’re, well, expensive. Kate recommends Neutrogena’s HydroBoost line as a wallet-friendly substitute for Sunday Riley Tidal Cream, and carries Neutrogena and Olay products in her work suitcase as a backup. And, like me and her Very Famous passenger, she also likes Neutrogena face wipes. Because they are the best.

A huge thank you to Kate for sharing her skincare secrets! Let me know if you have any in-flight beauty tips of your own in the comments, and shop Kate’s favorite products below:

Image: Vogue