When you lace up and headout for some miles, your skin is probably not the first thing on your mind (at least until the chafing begins). But running impacts your skin’s health and appearance—and how well you take care of it now will definitely show as you age.
In my Denver plastic surgery practice, I frequently work with runners to repair the effects of sun damage, acne and other skin problems that tend to plague athletes. While I can help these patients, it’s far better to prevent such issues before they become a real problem. I’d like to share a few of my top skincare tips for runners.
1. Always wear sunscreen, no matter what the weather is doing.
You already know that UV damage is the number one contributor towards a leathery look and worse, skin cancer. But did you know that just a few bad sunburns can triple your risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer?
Protect yourself by applying sweat-resistant broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher to exposed skin before every run, and reapply at least every 2 hours you are out. A knowledgeable skin care professional can help you find a quality product. You can also offset risk by investing in UPF rated clothing and training early in the morning or after sunset.
Already seeing sun damage? An IPL photofacial is a great treatment to reduce brown spots and hyperpigmentation. Also, consider taking an anti-aging supplement to help prevent DNA damage and promote skin elasticity.
2. Take off makeup before you train.
Finding time to train is hard enough, and it’s tempting to dash out the door and worry about cleaning off your makeup post-run. However, your pores naturally open up when you sweat, so leaving on a layers of heavy powders can clog them, leading to acne breakouts, rashes and inflammation. Running with eye makeup on can irritate your eyes or even cause eye infections. Take a minute or two to remove it all pre-run. Plus, your post-workout cleansing will be that much easier.
The exception: I actually encourage lip balm or gloss with SPF—adding this to your workout prep can help prevent skin cancer and keep your lips smooth and healthy.
If acne or “bacne” (a.k.a. back acne) flare-ups are a problem for you, see a board certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist. While OTC options may be too weak to help with severe cases, an MD can prescribe medical-grade products or recommend an effective treatment for acne scars.
3. Keep your skin clean, but don’t over-cleanse
A hot shower feels great after a workout, but beware of overdoing it, especially with facial exfoliation. Using a scrub or rough loofah every day irritates skin and can lead to irreversible skin damage. Ironically, overly aggressive cleansing can actually lead to more breakouts by tearing down your skin’s natural barrier against acne-causing bacteria.
The best way to make sure your cleansing routine is spot-on is to consult with an experienced skincare provider, who can show you proper techniques and guide you toward cleansers and toners that are most appropriate for your skin type and concerns.
Practicing smart skin care is key to being a healthy and fit runner inside and out. If you have concerns about your skin or need help finding the right skincare treatment in Denver, I will be happy to meet with you for personal consultation at Beauty by Buford.
About the Author: Gregory Buford, MD, FACS is a Denver-based, board certified plastic surgeon and owner of BEAUTY by BUFORD, specializing in non-invasive and cosmetic plastic surgery procedures. A certified master trainer for Allergan, Advisory Board Member of the International Society of Regenerative Medicine, and author of Eat, Drink, Heal: the Art & Science of Surgical Nutrition, he is considered an authority on anti-aging medicine and wellness.