Truth: I get pretty excited about the beverage service cart on an airplane — even the food cart despite the fact that I actually rarely eat the meal (I am big into packing healthy goodies and not-so into overly cooked pasta and mystery meat.) But one rolling in-flight feature I could never get on board with is the duty free boutique. I think I can count on one hand the times I actually saw someone purchase something. Seriously, who buys that stuff? Well, on my Aer Lingus flight from Paris to Dublin, I was the sucker who raised my hand when the stewardesses quietly repeated “gifts, cosmetics, fragrance…”
Even worse, I strategically planned what I was going to purchase before they even made it halfway down the aisle. The good news is that I got a lot of loot for a little under 130 euros. The bad news is that not everything was on-point—my decision-making must have been influenced by my Bloody Mary. Whether you have a weak shopping moment in the friendly skies, the department store, or online, here are the products that I think are worth the splurge (and which you should skip.) Editor’s note: the prices listed are what I paid Duty Free and the exact same kits may not be available online or in stores.
I wasn’t one of those teens who learned the importance of a skin care routine via Clinique’s famed three-step system. In fact, I think the only time I purchased anything was when it was Bonus Week back in my high school years (Black Honey lipstick forever!). As an avid traveler, I’m constantly battling a dehydrated complexion, so I am naturally drawn to any product that promises a serious moisture surge. For €32, I thought the box would be comprised of all travel sizes, but much to my surprise, there was a generously sized (75 ml) Moisture Surge and 15 ml All About Eyes Serum. The Moisture Surge Spray came in at 30 ml. It’s convenient for in-flight misting and the active aloe in the formula kept my skin from feeling tight. The moisturizer promises 72 hours of continuous hydration and while that’s really difficult to judge because I religiously slather on product morning and night, I can say that it instantaneously gave my skin a wonderful dewy glow—yet I was still able to wear makeup without it sliding off. I particularly enjoyed the cooling sensation upon contact (especially in-flight) and the addition of caffeine helped fade signs of fatigue associated with jet-lag. Verdict: I’d definitely repurchase any of the products in this kit, if not the entire kit itself amidst another weak in-flight moment.
I really wanted to love this one, but the “universally flattering shades” (nude, petal pink, and mauve) made me look more tired than I actually was, so I prefer to stick with my go-to red lippie. I even tried their suggestion for layering…nope. This is not to say these hues wouldn’t look great on someone with a different skin tone or hair color—the formula is really nice; non-sticky and long-lasting. I DID love the espresso lip liner because it was easy to create great definition and it helped my own lipstick stay put for hours. Verdict: As someone who handles copy for top beauty brands, I give this brand props for the product description as it reeled me in hook, line, and sinker. However, it’s not a repurchase for me as the hues made me look like I had the blues.
Alpha-H Liquid Gold (€25)
Mechanical exfoliants (scrubs) and gommages rarely remove all of my dead skin cells, so I like something with more of a punch. I was under the impression that this product was going to be more of a viscous consistency because it’s described as an “acid toner, exfoliator, serum, and moisturizer in one.” Well, it’s a straight-up liquid comprised of 5 percent glycolic acid, licorice extract, and silk proteins. I tried the product on its own by found it too drying—anything but moisturizing—so I followed up with a serum and moisturizer as suggested. It did, however, dissolve the dead skin cells on my forehead after just one use. This is definitely a product that requires a patch test before starting as it’s quite strong and could potentially overly stimulate sensitive skin. With long-term use, the product promises to reduce wrinkle depth and skin roughness while boosting moisture levels. I am only using it about two times a week for now until my skin gets used to the level of acid. Verdict: I had to pull back on this one because I went through an uncomfortable bout of eczema, but I’ll give it another try as it’s recognized as a “cult favorite” and beauty award winner.
I am not a sun bunny and while that’s helped me hold onto somewhat of a smooth and even complexion (the sun breaks down the collagen in the skin) at 40 years of age, there are periods throughout the year where my skin looks downright pasty. I used to spritz on an aerosol self-tanner, but along with color, I would gain dryness and occasionally, breakouts. These self-tan drops alleviate all of those concerns because the product hydrates while delivering a natural looking tanned face and neck. Simply mix 2-12 drops with your serum or moisturizer (depending on how deep of a tan you want to achieve) and apply as usual. The color gradually fades evenly, just like a summer tan. Verdict: I will 100 percent repurchase this product. It’s without a doubt the best face self-tanner I’ve ever tried. The results are natural and my skin is left soft and supple. What’s not to like?
Instant Effects Instant Eye Lift (2 for €40 — with below)
I was lured into this product (and its pout plumping sister) due to the fact that it touted a “Best Beauty” honor. That and the fact that flying, a good French Bordeaux, and erratic sleeping patterns aren’t doing my peepers any favors. This product says it’s been “proven” to reduce under eye circles and puffiness within 15 minutes of application. I can’t say I noticed any real dramatic change. Perhaps for me, the results will be more progressive—clinical trials have shown an improvement in skin elasticity and a reduction of fine wrinkles after six weeks. Verdict: This one is a pass for me. I’ve seen more instantaneous results with Obagi’s ELASTIderm Eye Cream.
Instant Effects 3D Lip Plumping Treatment (2 for €40 — with above)
While I did achieve an immediate plumping effect and improved hydration level, the effects definitely didn’t last four days. It’s a nice little pucker pick-me-up, however. Verdict: I will most likely not repurchase this product as plumpers of any kind tend to dry out my lips, thus eventually leading to a counterproductive result.
Did you ever purchase in-flight beauty products? Which ones did you love?