Up In The Air: How To Travel Better For Your Beauty And Health

Last week I flew to Moscow and this week I’m in Alicante. I’m a guest expert at SHA Wellness Clinic where I will be offering some of my signature treatments from my London Clinic.


Travelling all the time is an essential part of my life but I must admit that I do not like it. Although I fly so much, I am an anxious flyer but I have developed my own mechanisms to cope with jet lag as well as fear of flying, and learnt how best to protect my skin and my health whilst travelling. So, today’s blog is all about flying. Read on, for my Top Tips.

What happens to our skin as we fly?

The air-conditioned air in the cabin has no humidity (apparently it’s only 10 to 20 per cent humidity compared to an average of 80 per cent humidity in the UK). This evaporates any moisture that the skin’s got due to osmotic pressure. Wearing makeup on the flight can lead to breakouts and clogged pores. So freshen up skin with a non-alcoholic wipe. Having clean skin is essential– a plane is not the place for a full face of make-up.

My Top Tip:

Hydrate and protect with a deeply moisturising serum which contains a high level of actives, followed by a fairly thick moisturiser.

My Top Tip:

On long hold flights I like to use a nourishing mask half way through the flight to give my skin a rest. Look for one with aloe vera to refresh, hydrate, soothe and calm the skin.

Snacks On A Plane

I like having Rooibos, Licorice or Detox Herbal teas with me, as well as snacks of raw chocolate with nuts and berries. Raw Chocolate balances brain chemistry, builds strong bones, is a natural aphrodisiac, and elevates the mood and energy. I also like to eat it at the end of my journey to get me back on track.

How Jet Lag affects us

The hypothalamus is a key area of the brain that contains neurons whose main function is to regulate our circadian rhythms and responses to day and night. There are two types of neurons that individually represent our deep sleep and REM sleep. The deep sleep neurons sync up within a day, even after a significant overseas trip. But it is those neurons overseeing REM sleep that take much longer. Without REM sleep, which is the type of sleep that allows you to dream, you are going to feel more fatigued, have weakened memory and general decreased performance.

I frequently fly overseas for work. The jet lag from a long-haul flight can last for days, zapping my energy and making it difficult to enjoy my stay.


Jet lag is most noticeable in the first 24-48 hours following travel – symptoms include daytime sleepiness, disorientation, irritability, fatigue, headache and being awake when you need to sleep. It can last for up to five days, but symptoms may depend on the duration of the flight.

How to Beat Jet Lag the TCM way

Whilst travelling I take a steady regime of adaptogen herbs such as Ginseng, Gynostemma, Schizandra, Reishi and Astragalus. I love my herbs because they allow my body to adapt quickly and perform better in different circumstances.

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Ginseng tonic stimulates adrenal glands and improves energy levels, reducing initial drowsiness and lethargy from the confused internal clock. Gynostemma provides energy when it is needed and adaptability to handle the challenge associated with the changing time zone. They help re-establish natural biorhythms quickly. Wu Wei Zi or Schizandra is one of my emergency best-ever jet lag fighters. It enhances overall mental function, including alertness, memory, thought-formation and mental energy. Two-hundred milligrams of the standardized extract daily will keep you alert and clear-headed. It can strengthen the body and regulate sleep, making the body to recover faster. Start using it a fortnight before the trip to increase effectiveness.

Vitamins such as magnesium, omega3’s, B complex or even a baby aspirin keeps the blood moving during the flight. I like taking Bach Rescue Remedy too.

Light Therapy

My Top Tip:

Another way to adjust the natural rhythm of the brain is light therapy. Light therapy will adjust the perception of the brain and the body’s clock back to where the body is at the time. I have a lot of jetsetters in my Clinic coming straight from the airport to have some green light therapy, so they can maximise their time productively.


My Top Tip: Acupuncture can help adjust the body clock by regulating the body’s energy and brain function. I usually use ear acupuncture prior to the flight in order to prevent jet lag symptoms, by placing little golden magnetic balls in the ears to regulate my body. Some research on aircrew showed very satisfactory results for time zone regulation.


My Top Tip: To relieve a jet lag headache, drink plenty of water during the flight. If symptoms persist there is an important point between the thumb and index finger (L.I.4-HEGU) that alleviates headaches fast. Press that point, six to 10 times and the headache will get better. If you feel that the headache is coming from the sinuses, then visit your acupuncturist because that may imply chronic inflammation and bacteria presence.

Fear of Flying

No matter how much I fly, I am always very anxious while I am on the plane. I find that isolating sound by wearing headphones and listening to music helps to trick the brain, and I feel more relaxed because I do not pay attention to everything around me. I also focus on controlling my breathing. If you get anxious like me, there are courses to help, such as Flying Without Fear.

Chinese Acupuncture ‘Meridian Clock’

In Chinese medicine jet lag is considered an irregularity of the energy through the meridians of the body affecting the body and brain responses. The Chinese Acupuncture ‘Meridian Clock’ is an example of a 24-hour cycle, which portrays the body’s complete functions as well as its relationship with jet lag. There are 12 main meridians, each taking the lead for two hours during the 24-hour period. The body’s ‘clock’ delineates which meridian system is activated and dominant at a specific time. If we are aware of them we can help regulate them when we are out of our normal routine, and make the best of our time and needs on a plane. Remember to set your watch according to the time of destination. Here’s an example of a 24 hour flight trip:


TIME/MERIDIAN correlation

5-7 a.m. — Large Intestine — Drinking water facilitates bowel movement and also provides more hydration to the body and skin.
7-9 a.m. — Stomach — Stomach energies are at the highest. Preferably choose a vegetarian meal to facilitate digestion on the plane and avoid bloating.
9-11 a.m. — Spleen— The spleen (pancreas) helps the stomach, so boost energy with vegetables with lots of fibre rather than carbs to avoid sluggishness.
11 a.m.-1 p.m. — Heart — Food nourishment enter the blood stream. The heart pumps nutrients throughout the system and takes its turn to supply more oxygen to the body. Breathing exercises will be very helpful to help expand the lungs and diaphragm and allow more air to enter the blood circulation. Move around, and stretch to avoid fluid retention. Relaxing music during this time will ease the Heart and help with serotonin levels to relax any anxiety.
1-3 p.m. — Small Intestine — Foods requiring longer digestion times (proteins) complete their digestion. Time for tea! This helps to increase metabolic rate due to its tannin content and aid digestion.
3-5 p.m. — Bladder — Metabolic wastes from the day’s nutrition intake are processed, making room for the kidney’s filtration to come. Walk around and drink more water. Help the bladder to eliminate toxins. This also helps to avoid leg puffiness and retention.
5-7 p.m. — Kidney — Filters blood (decides what to keep and what to throw away), maintains proper chemical balance of blood based on nutritional intake of day. This is an ideal time to take an Adaptogen supplement to help the Kidneys. Licorice tea would be effective to help with cortisol and sugar levels as well as filter out excess water.
7-9 p.m. — Pericardium— Nutrients and oxygen are carried to our body – so move the body and have a stroll down the aisle.
9-11 p.m. — Triple Heater — The endocrine system adjusts the homeostasis of the body based on electrolyte and enzyme replenishment. This is a good time to have a nap. Allow the body to rest and re-regulate itself. Interestingly the brain produces melatonin about 11.30pm, an attribute to the hormonal Triple Heater function.
11 p.m.- 1 a.m. — Gall Bladder — Initial cleansing of all food by-products. This processes cholesterol, enhances brain function.
1-3 a.m. — Liver — Cleanses the blood and filtrates wastes. This is the time where the body purifies itself.
3-5 a.m. — Lungs — Respiration and oxygenation. The body starts waking up again. The lungs are linked with the skin so have a quick skin cleanse and don’t forget to moisturise.