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Why You Need Sunscreen When You Fly

by kelly / October, 26 2022 01:30

Photo of women's profile looking out an airplane window

The holidays are around the corner and travel is about to pick up. So if you’re about to take off on a trip – don’t forget to pack a travel size sunscreen in your carry-on. Yes, you heard right. You need to wear sunscreen on the plane because exposure to UV radiation is high up in the air.

Cockpit Is Like a Tanning Bed

In 2015 the University of California, San Francisco conducted a study that found that 56 minutes in a plane cockpit at 30,000 feet was the same amount of UV exposure as 20 minutes in a tanning bed.

In fact, the study also found that pilots and flight attendants were twice as likely to develop melanoma cancer.

These are all pretty crazy stats. I assumed the plane’s windows would block the UV but I guess being closer to the sun definitely increases our risk. I hope our flight crews are taking care of their skin.

Your Skin On a Plane

Now that you know how your flight crew is affected by the sun – what about your skin on the plane? Well according to dermatologist Dr. Lavanya Krishan:

“A good rule of thumb is that if you can see rays of sunlight entering through a window, whether it be a window in your home or car or an airplane window – you are at risk of UV ray penetration into your skin…Moreover, airplane travel is at much higher altitudes and is associated with reflection of the UV rays off of surrounding clouds. All of these factors further compound the enhanced risk for airline pilots, crew members, and passengers alike.”

So that’s how your exposure level increases on plane and why you don’t want forget to apply and re-apply sunblock during your next flight!

Yup, it sounded strange to me at first too but know that I know the facts, it makes sense. It’s just another reason to make sunscreen a part of your daily routine – like brushing your teeth.

Suncare Smarts

For even more skin care travel tips check out our Skin Care or Suncare Smarts series.

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