With warmer weather comes the chance to break free of the gym walls and move your workout outside. Whether you look forward to a scenic run in the park or a bike ride through your neighborhood, outdoor exercise gives us a chance to enjoy the scenery while getting our sweat on. But with it comes some risks—the biggest one being increased exposure to UV rays.
1. Never step outside without sunscreen
Just as we suspected, the number one skincare must-do for every outdoor athlete is slathering on sunscreen. “Sunscreen is a priority,” says Teal Stetson-Lee, a mountain biker on the Luna Chix Pro Team. “Don’t skimp on it because you want to be tan—it’s not worth the long-term damage it causes.” She uses Devita Solar Body Moisturizer SPF 30+, a 100 percent natural sunscreen with zinc oxide, on her body. On her face, she applies Andalou Naturals All-in-One Beauty Balm SPF 30, $20, a mineral-based tinted moisturizer with physical sunscreen for optimum protection that lasts.
Suzie Snyder, an Xterra Triathlon athlete on the Luna Chix Pro Team, recommends Planet Sun sunscreen, which is formulated specially for athletes. “It’s all natural and infused with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to help nourish the skin while exposed to the elements,” she says. Their All Natural FaceFormulation Sunscreen SPF 30+, $16, is made with beeswax, preventing it from dripping into the eyes so it will stay put even at your sweatiest. Snyder also uses Planet Sun Formulation Two Body Sunscreen SPF 30+, $20, on the rest of her body and the SPF 30 lip balm on her lips.
2. Moisturize over-washed and over-worked skin.
All of the athletes we talked to said they had dry skin. “I think working out so much makes my skin dry because of the frequency that I’m showering, which just keeps stripping moisture out of my skin,” says Snyder. “Also swimming in a chlorinated pool does not do the skin any favors.” Nope, it certainly does not.
On top of a daily moisturizer with SPF, professional rock climber Sasha DiGiulian uses coconut oil to hydrate her extremely dry skin, as does Stetson-Lee. Both find it makes a huge difference in their skin’s health. Coconut oil’s benefits have even been shown to help nix acne and slow down skin cell aging, among others. Try VMV Hypoallergenic Know-It-Oil, $26.
3. Wear sun-protective clothing.
Snyder suggests covering up as much as possible with UPF clothing, hats and sunglasses. “On my arms I also wear Planet Sun UV Protective Arm Sleeves while cycling and running,” she says. DiGiulian recommends wearing a headband, to help keep sweat off your face that can both clog pores and make sunscreen drip. It’ll also help protect your hairline from getting sun damage.
4. Remove sweat ASAP.
Make sure to wash your face with your favorite cleanser right after sweating up a storm to avoid clogged pores that’ll lead to breakouts. You’ll also remove nasty pollution, which builds up on your face whenever you’re outside, especially if you’re a city-dweller.
If you can’t wash properly right away, Snyder recommends carrying face wipes (we like Yes To Cucumbers Face Cleanser Towelettes, $6) to get the initial sweat, salt and dirt off your skin until you can get to a sink and some cleanser.
5. Eat for glowing skin.
Although this is more of a lifestyle change instead of a topical fix, the athletes all credit their healthy diets for giving them a glowing complexion. And it’s true: Eating antioxidant-rich foods can help prevent skin cancer, and a diet full of healthy fruits and vegetables can do wonders for your skin health.
When she’s traveling and has less control over her diet, DiGiulian brings along omega-3 fish oil supplements to make sure she gets her daily dose. “I notice when I am trying to take care of my skin that omega-3s definitely help,” she says. DiGiulian also eats plenty of nuts and fruit—trail mix is her go-to snack when she’s out on a climbing trip—and she avoids eating packaged and processed foods.
Bonus: Working out regularly contributes to a lifetime of healthy skin. Aerobic exercise improves your circulation, and happy arteries mean a nourished complexion; sweating also helps flush out the toxins that lead to breakouts. So just by getting out there and moving, you’re already on your way to clear, glowing skin.