Sweat isn’t the only thing you should worry about
By Janica Balasolla | Photos by Maarten van den Heuvel/Unsplash
While it’s important to keep track of nutrition and fitness, paying attention to your skin is just as significant. When left unattended, skin conditions can go from good to worse and may even affect overall athletic performance. Here are some skincare pointers to remember to keep it healthy and glowing.
Wear sun protection
Athlete or not, your skin is always prone to sun damage no matter the time and place. But the case rings true for athletes who are often outdoors. The most obvious solution is putting on sunscreen. An SPF of 30 to 50 is enough for the face and other areas like the back of the neck, ears, and nose. Applying sunscreen can prevent the risks of premature aging, uneven skin tone, and skin cancer. Look for water-resistant—because there is no such thing as waterproof—sunscreens and follow reapplying instructions religiously. Sunscreens are often effective for 40 to 80 minutes only.
Mineral-based products, particularly those with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, can effectively protect your skin against harmful UVA, UVA-1, and UVB rays. The Environmental Working Group advises to avoid spray-on sunscreen as they do not entirely cover an area, and products that contain avobenzone and oxybenzone, which cause hormone disruptions and skin allergies, as well as retinyl palmitate, which causes further skin damage when exposed to the sun.
As important as sunscreen is your clothing. Cover up as much as possible with ultraviolet protection factor clothes, hats, and sunglasses. To ease comfort while wearing all these sun protective products, always carry a bottle of water to spray on yourself, aside from your usual water bottles for drinking.
Wipe away sweat
While sweating is the natural means to cool and detoxify the body, leaving it on skin will cause bacteria births and breakouts. Wipe away sweat immediately with a clean towel to prevent blemishes and skin infections. Clean towels are a must as they could be a breeding ground for more germs and bacteria. Old towels become less-absorbent and rough, so replace them from time to time. Change out of wet gym clothes as soon as possible, and wear a headband and tie your hair securely to prevent excessive sweating on the face, which can clog pores and make sunscreen drip.
Moisturize daily and exfoliate moderately
After training and showering, allot time to moisturize. It keeps skin hydrated after exposure to various elements. Ointments provide the best moisture and are recommended for extremely dry areas like the elbows and feet, and those with skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis. Creams are the lighter option, and lotions are the lightest. Either way, choose alcohol-free products formulated with alpha-hydroxy acids, lactic acid, ammonium lactate, or urea, which all speed up the sloughing of excess dead skin.
On the other hand, exfoliation can help in skin renewal. Scrubs, washcloths, and loofah sponges can be used as long they are used gently. Cleansers with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acids can prevent breakouts, speed up cell turnover, and leave skin smooth. A word of caution though: too much exfoliation can do more harm than good, so do it only once or twice a week.
Eat for glowing skin and stay hydrated
Fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, carrots, berries, kale, and broccoli are absolute wonders on the skin. These are also rich in antioxidants, which could help prevent skin cancer. Water is the still best bet for athletes. Aside from keeping skin dewy, it’s also the simplest form of detox. Six glasses of water is recommended on average, though athletes might need more since they easily lose body fluids while training.