Skin Care for Runners for Every Season
Runners tend to ignore their skin. Considering the fact that running is a primarily outdoors sport, though, this isn’t really a good idea. While your heart, lungs and other muscles are straining to keep up with the demands of your workouts, your skin is straining to endure the elements. And exactly what stresses are placed on your skin by the environment can change pretty significantly from one season to the next.
So, to help you prepare for year-long activity, here’s what you need to know about skin care for every season.
Before breaking the year down into its individual seasons, though, it’s important to discuss something that you should be mindful of year-round: sunscreen. Regardless of the time of year, the energy from the sun could do significant damage to your skin without the proper protection.
As the days get shorter and the sun gets lower in the sky, it’s easy to assume that sunscreen is less important during the colder months of the year. In reality, though, the sun’s destruction potential continues regardless of these seasonal shifts. In fact, snow can reflect sunlight and increase your risk of sun burn.
It’s also vital to point out that the broad term “skin” applies to your lips as well. While it’s often recommended that you use lip balm or other products as moisturizers, be sure to select options that have high SPF ratings to shield your lips from potential sun damage as well.
So, while each season does present unique challenges for your skin, the risk of damage from the sun persists all year long.
When faced with winter weather, runner’s normally think primarily about guarding against potential falls and cold temperatures. But protecting your skin means more than just bundling up.
The cold, dry air of the winter months can severely dry out your skin, leading to cracking, irritation and even eczema. Your hands and lips are particularly susceptible to this sort of damage from the harsh winter air. In addition to proper protective clothing – like gloves, then – be sure to frequently moisturize your skin and lips.
For the most benefit, apply your moisturizer of choice immediately after taking a bath or shower. This will lock in the necessary moisture needed to keep your skin healthy. Of course, you should also apply moisturizer as need, especially if it starts to effect you during your runs.
Thankfully, spring is a pretty straightforward time of year for a runner’s skin. In most areas, the weather is relatively mild and the season doesn’t generally present any special challenges when it comes to skin care.
Still continue to take the usual steps of protecting your skin against sun damage and dehydration.
The warm months of summer, for most people, means that it’s tanning season. Unfortunately, tans are actually a bad thing. In fact, the entire idea of a “healthy tan” is a complete myth. A tan, in all reality, is a sign of skin damage caused by exposure to solar radiation.
In addition to the usual precaution of sunscreen, you may also chose to take the extra step of wearing protective clothing. This would include well-chosen sunglasses and a hat but could also involve just about everything you wear when you head out for a run. While there are specially-made articles of clothing that use fancy resins, dyes or other chemicals to keep the sun out, the truth is that unbleached cotton or other woven fabrics also do a pretty good job.
Granted, these more economical solutions will not offer the same degree of protection as the SPF-rated clothes. Additionally, sun-blocking clothing often carries other useful properties – like moisture-control – that can benefit runners during the hot summer months.
Moisturizers are still a good idea during the summer but, because you’re skin is less likely to dry out during this time of year, use lighter lotions.
In many ways, autumn skin care is really about getting ready for winter. Which, considering the fact that this time of year is when the days start to shorten and the temperatures start to descend toward their winter lows, makes a lot of sense.
Since your skin has likely been punished pretty severely by sun, saltwater and chlorine during the summer, now is the time to exfoliate – removing old, damage cells to make room for a newer stock. For similar reasons, autumn is also a perfect time to start using heavier moisturizing creams. Not only will this help your skin recover from summer, but it will also prepare you for the dry months of winter.
This means paying special attention to your hands at this point since they will struggle during the next season. Similarly, start using lip balm during the fall so that your lips are less likely to suffer when winter arrives.
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