skincare for runners

Skincare Routine For Runners

Any activity that takes us outside will affect our skin more than the activities inside. This is because our skin is exposed to the weather, including the sun, daylight, environmental pollutants, wind, rain and cold. 

All these factors can cause premature ageing, pigmentation and weathered-looking skin. Exercise affects our skin, too, in many ways. Sweating leaves salt, bacteria and sebum (your body's natural oils) on our skin and can cause dehydrated skin and breakouts. 

This blog by Dermalogica skincare expert Nicola Steptoe-Thompson is here to help you understand what your skin goes through and to help you achieve an excellent home skincare routine to keep your skin healthy while running keeps your body and mind healthy. 

Pre-Run Skincare Routine

Step 1 - Start With A Cleanser

cleanser for runners

You should cleanse your skin before you go running to prevent dirt from entering your pores as you run. If you run first thing in the morning, you should wash the night's sweat and dribble off your skin to refresh it. 

If you are running after work or at the end of the day, ideally, you should wash makeup and debris off your skin before venturing out to let your skin breathe. 

I recommend using a cleanser that removes environmental pollutants from your skin's surface and inside your skin's pores. 

Your cleanser should treat your skin concerns; for example, if you suffer from sensitive skin, then Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser will soothe, calm, strengthen your natural barrier and reduce redness while cleansing without drying your skin out.

Another example is if you suffer from excess oil, shine, blackheads, and blocked pores, then Dermalogica Active Clay Cleanser will purify and deep cleanse, removing excess oil and leaving your skin super clean, fresh and matte.

Step 2 - Toner Your Skin

Hydrate and condition your skin before your run with a refreshing, hydrating and soothing toner. Toners also prep your skin by leaving it slightly damp, ready for your serums and moisturisers to be absorbed more efficiently. 

Step 3 - Protect Your Lips

The weather and environmental pollutants can cause your lips to get sore, cracked and very dry. Many people can suffer from cold sores due to the sun's UV rays triggering the virus, so looking after your lips while running outdoors is essential. Check out Dermalogica's Renewal Lip Complex. It softens your lips without suffocating the skin's surface, unlike Vasaline and other products that stop the skin from producing its natural oils.

Step 4 - Moisturise With A SPF

A moisturiser with SPF sun protection must be applied at least 20 minutes before you leave the house and should be used all year round to help prevent premature ageing and protect you from sun damage and cancers. 

If your moisturiser doesn't contain an SPF, then sun protection should be applied afterwards. I recommend moisturising, nourishing and protecting your skin with one of Dermalogica's 2 in 1 moisturisers, which contains SPF 30 and above

TIP - Here are a couple of great moisturisers I recommend that are perfect for applying before running. Dermalogica Oil Free Matte SPF30 provides a matte finish and prevents blocked pores or the Dermalogica Invisible Physical Defence for a non-chalky sun cream that is light on the skin.

Step 5 - Don't Forget The Rest Of Your Body

suncream for runners

In the summer, you should also wear sun protection on your arms and legs and don't forget the back of your neck while running outside.

Your sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes before leaving the house to allow the product to be absorbed entirely and to start working before exposing it to the sun.

Re-apply your sun cream every 50 minutes if needed. This isn't always practical while running, so keep your skin as covered as possible.

Step 6 - Prevent Chafing

Chaffing leaves your skin raw, painful and broken. This is created by friction when your skin rubs together or against your clothing. Suitable clothing and an anti-chafe balm or cream are the best ways to prevent chafing. 

Wear properly fitting clothing designed for runners. If your thighs tend to rub together, longer-length compression shorts work well or anti-chafe balm

To avoid nipple chaffing, ensure your running shirt is soft and not scratchy. You can even wear nipple covering/plasters to prevent them from rubbing and bleeding. Ladies, make sure you are wearing a well-fitted sports bra. 

Choosing clothing made from fabrics that keep you comfortable and dry will make a difference to your run. 

Clothing should be breathable and sweat-wicking. Instead of trapping your sweat and moisture against your skin, it allows it to sit on top of the fabric so it can be easily evaporated, which minimises chaffing while maximising your skin's comfort. 

Avoid cotton as it absorbs sweat and keeps it against your skin, leaving you damp. Nylon or Polyester are non-absorbent, sweat-wicking, breathable and lightweight. Polyester also repels UV rays, so protecting your skin from the sun. 

Step 7 - Wear A Hat & Sunglasses

A hat and glasses are also essential for running outside. Caps keep the sun off your head to prevent sunstroke and heat exhaustion. If your hat has a peak like a baseball-type hat, then this can also protect your face from the sun.  

Sunglasses are essential too. These are not only worn to help your vision in the dazzling daylight, but also help to prevent you from squinting, which long term can give you lines and wrinkles. So the bigger the sunglasses, the better!

TIP - I highly recommend getting prescription sunglasses if you wear prescription glasses. These were the best investment I ever made. Opticians don't always have large rimmed frames, so if, like me, you feel the bigger, the better with sunglasses, buy the sunglasses you like elsewhere and get your opticians to change the lenses to your prescription.

Post-Run Skincare Routine

After your run, get out of your running gear and into the shower as quickly as possible to avoid leaving your skin exposed to sweat and bacteria for too long. 

Look after your skin by performing Dermalogica's double cleansing routine on your face, neck and décolletage. Dermalogica double cleansing is essential for healthy, clean skin. I recommend using two different cleansers, a Precleanser followed by a prescribed cleanser. 

Use one straight after the other to double cleanse your skin. This is much more beneficial than just cleansing once. Never forget your neck and décolletage* area during all your skincare routine, from cleansing to moisturising. This area commonly gets overlooked and neglected, but has perfume and products applied to it, plus the thin skin on your neck area and the exposed cleavage area age faster and is likely to have hyperpigmentation, so please look after and protect it. 

* The décolletage is your upper chest area, cleavage, and across your shoulders.

Step 1 - PreCleanse Your Skin

Dermalogica Precleanse is a water-soluble oil-based cleanser. This cleanser dissolves and removes makeup, sunscreens and environmental pollutants from your skin's surface and prepping your skin by unblocking the pores for your prescribed cleanser to work deeper into your skin and pores for a more efficiently cleaned skin. You can perform cleansing over a basin of water or in the shower. 

TIP - Do not forget to massage all your cleansers and exfoliating products into the creases of your nose, chin, neck and décolletage. Use sponges and warm water to remove your cleansers, exfoliants and masks to ensure all product residue is removed to prevent product buildup.

Step 2 - Your 2nd Cleanse

Just like before your run, use your personalised cleanser to remove environmental pollutants from your skin's surface and from your pores. 

TIP - To power up your cleansing routine, I recommend using the BT-Sonic cleansing brush to foam up your cleanser and work into those pores.

Step 3 - Exfoliate Your Skin

Exfoliation is essential for many reasons. It helps unblock plugged pores where dead skin cells have settled, and also exfoliants can even go in and around the walls of your pores, removing dead cells before they become a problem.

As we get older and we have more sun exposure from running outside, our skin cell turnover starts to slow, meaning we hang onto dull cells for longer, so regularly exfoliating will encourage a more regular cell renewal cycle and more radiant and less uneven skin tone. 

It is essential to wash and exfoliant your body with a clean, healthy product to keep areas like the back, chest, bottom and groin area clear from spots and blocked pores that often occur due to running and sweating. Using products that will rehydrate your skin that is lost during your run. 

I recommend NEOM organics body washes and lotions to be used while you shower, and I recommend the NEOM body scrub to be used twice a week.

Step 4 - Nourish Your Skin With A Masque

Exercising regularly can leave our skin needing more TLC, so you could add a masque two times a week to nourish and treat your skin with one of Dermalogica's masques. Customising your masques and using masks on specific facial zones works well. 

Step 5 - Tone

Give your skin the drink it truly deserves after your run by using a toner to hydrate and soothe. Toners, while hydrating, also prepare your skin by leaving it slightly damp, ready for your serums and moisturisers to be absorbed more efficiently. It helps products spread further, meaning your favourite moisturiser lasts longer.

TIP - One of my favourite toners is Dermalogica Hyaluronic Ceramide Mist, which gives my skin a burst of hydration after my run.

Step 6 - Targeting Concerns With A Serum

You could add a serum to your routine if you want to give your skin more kindness after your run. This is when serums come into play to target specific skin conditions, from spots to pigmentation.

These products are concentrated to deliver fast results to problem areas. One of my top-selling serums to runners is the Dermalogica Biolumin-C Serum, a concentrated vitamin c high-performance serum enhancing your skin's natural defence system against sun rays to brighten and firm.

TIP - Serums can be used once or twice daily, depending on the product and skin type, so please ask for advice.

Step 8 - Moisturise Your Skin

moisturise for runners

Again we need to hydrate our skin after a run to replace the moisture loss. Moisturise, nourish and protect your skin with one of Dermalogica's brilliant moisturisers. Evening moisturisers are designed to nourish and treat our skin overnight. 

TIP - One of my best-selling moisturisers is Dermalogica Dynamic Skin Recovery. This moisturiser has a highly protective SPF50, so you can feel confident that your skin is protected against premature ageing, sun damage and environmental stress. 

If your favourite moisturiser doesn't contain sun protection like Dermalogica Skin Smoothing Cream, I recommend you follow with Dermalogica Perfect Skin Primer SPF30 or good quality makeup with an SPF. I recommend Jane Iredale mineral clean makeup brand.

For more information regarding night moisturisers and treatments, please see step 10 of my 10 step product layering guide to healthy skin.

Step 9 - Have A Good Night's Sleep

magnesium cream for runners

Exercise can leave us restless, so make sure you stretch your muscles out before and after a workout. To help your muscles to relax at night, do a few leg and back stretches before bed. 

I recommend applying magnesium body butter to your arms and legs. Magnesium is vital for health and well-being. This mineral is found in our bodies, from our bones to our brain, yet 80% of us are lacking it. 

Magnesium is a wonder mineral which works to revitalise our skin. At the same time, it supports the nervous system and a healthy psychological function, helps with energy production and also aids in the reduction of tiredness and fatigue. It also contributes to electrolyte balance and supports healthy muscle function, too. 

NEOM's Perfect nights sleep magnesium body butter also has the benefit of dreamy super floral, and lavender vibes. With added fragrant basil and honey-like sweet jasmine, it is made to help you get a perfect night's sleep and combined with a blend of shea butter, aloe vera, grapeseed oil and coconut oil to nourish and soften skin. This body butter helps my muscles relax. In turn, it has helped stop my restless leg syndrome at night and helped me to have a deeper, more restful sleep. 

For the ultimate sleep to boost your recovery, I recommend relaxing music to distract your mind from the day and any stress you are under and help you drift off to sleep.  

Ask A Question

I hope you find this blog useful and now have a better understanding of what your skin will be going through and to help you achieve an excellent home skincare routine to keep your skin healthy while running outside.

If you have any questions you can connect with me on Instagram or visit my salon The Greys Retreat.

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