Because your skin works as hard as you do, give it all the TLC it deserves
As athletes or active individuals at the very least, we put a lot of strain on our bodies. Tired muscles, sore joints, and aching bones are a few things that come to mind when we talk about training. However, did you know that we often neglect the largest organ in our body?
Yes, our skin also bears the brunt of our daily training regimen so we need to give it a little bit of TLC. I consulted a few dermatologists on how we can take better care of our skin and here are their top skincare tips.
Wash up after a workout
A common mistake, especially here in the Philippines, is not washing up immediately after a workout. For most of our lives, we’ve been led to believe that taking a shower right after a workout will result in “pasma.” The term is believed to be rooted in the word “spasm.” However, the direct relationship is not clear because the myth claims that getting wet after sweating doesn’t lead to spasms but rather sweaty palms and feet. This is supposedly brought about by “unhealthy coldness” entering the body. Thankfully, the science and medical community is quick to debunk this as a mere folk tale with no scientific evidence. In fact, taking a shower after a workout is important for a number of reasons.
First, bacteria and fungi enjoy the wetness and humidity of our sweat and damp clothes. This allows them to multiply drastically and is often evidenced by the foul odor they bring. However, that’s not the only problem we’ll encounter. Skin irritation, blisters, and even skin infections are a few more important points of concern that bacterial growth brings.
Second, not washing up after a workout can lead to dryness. This is especially true if you’re exposed to chemicals like chlorine. Air drying your skin might seem like an easy and convenient way of cleaning yourself up but do it often enough and you’ll slowly torture your skin.
Skincare tip 1: Choose soap that includes moisturizing elements like shea butter and coconut oil. You can also invest in an additional face moisturizer since the skin on our face is thinner and thus more sensitive.
Soap isn’t enough
Before I realized what I was doing wrong, I used regular bar soap for everything: my body, my hair, and my face. I didn’t necessarily feel anything wrong until I tried to do things the right way. However, when I saw the difference, I became a believer. I now follow a three-step process for my face. First, a cleanser then a moisturizer topped off with sunblock. It barely takes five minutes and you can even skip the last step if you’re staying indoors.
Skincare tip 2: If you have other concerns such as acne, spots, or extreme dryness, reach out to a dermatologist. More often than not, they’d recommend additional steps such as toners and serums (between the cleanser and moisturizer). Look for ingredients such as vitamin C and retinol for uneven skin tone and acne or wrinkles respectively. Just remember that these can make you more sensitive to the sun so don’t forget the sunblock.
Having a proper diet is just as important
We often think going on a specific kind of diet is always about weight loss. Truth be told, eating right has a lot of health benefits that go beyond what we know. Aside from staving off chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and fatty liver disease, a balanced diet also benefits the skin.
Just like any other organ, our skin thrives on the nutrients we consume. For athletes, an emphasis on nutrients like vitamins C and D and lycopene are top of mind. Vitamin C helps with the production of collagen, which in turn improves skin elasticity and hydration, while vitamin D helps decrease the effects of excessive sun exposure. Lycopene also acts as a buffer against unrestrained UV exposure.
Skincare tip 3: While nothing beats getting your nutrients from actual food, consider supplements if you’re having trouble filling in the gaps.
Protect your skin
If you’re like me, you’ll probably skip the sunblock if it’s not really sunny out. Who wants to deal with the hassle of slathering on a thick lotion in our hot and humid climate?
While we’re lucky enough to have the pigmentation associated with a lower risk of skin cancer, the risks still remain. Excessive sun exposure may not always lead to sunburn or skin cancer but it can certainly damage skin in the long run. Dryness, premature aging, and even immune system suppression are few of the problems we might have to deal with.
Hence, taking care of our skin by shielding it from UV radiation is important. This is especially true for triathletes, swimmers, cyclists, and runners who spend a lot of time under the sun.
Skincare tip 4: Choose all-natural sunscreens, which are free of harmful chemicals. If you’re always in a rush and don’t want to spend too much time applying lotion, get the spray bottle option.
Trial makes perfect
I wish taking care of our skin were as simple as following what worked for one person or another. Sadly, that’s not the case. Each person is unique and has different needs from everyone else. This is why trying out different products is part of the learning process. Yes, we can get leads from friends but it all boils down to what our skin can tolerate.
Personally, I’ve tried out a handful of products and one thing I’ve learned is that it’s not about the price. You can have high-quality products at half the price of other brands. You just need to learn how to look.
Skincare tip 5: Consult a dermatologist to see what specific things you need. Perhaps you might have an underlying skin condition that needs addressing. More importantly, they can guide you better on the products you might need.
Have some training questions, feedback or suggestions for future articles? Drop a note in the comments section below or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. You can also get in touch with Don directly here.