As both fitness enthusiasts and fitness and wellness professionals, we may have experienced the different challenges of being athletic. Compared to non-exercisers, we have different nutritional needs, we may need to have our clothing altered to fit our muscles, we drink more water, replace running shoes more often and so on. But as fitness enthusiasts, do we have different skin care needs? It would stand to reason that those who exercise perspire more and therefore have extra sebum production.
Sebum is an oily secretion of the sebaceous glands. Sebum reduces water loss from the skin’s surface and also is colonized by the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes, which may have a role in immune regulation. Some of us have a naturally higher oil generation-and from exercise-even added oil, which causes acne during high-energy exercise. During exercise your increased blood circulation produces extra lymphatic fluid, a clear body fluid resembling blood plasma, found in intercellular spaces and in the lymphatic vessels and carries cells which help fight infection, and helps dehydrated skin. However, in perspiration there is a high amount of sodium-which may be why those who consume sports drinks with added sodium may continue to have dry skin.
Several exercisers, no matter how much they cleanse may still be acne prone or suffer from dry skin. Removing the perspiration after workouts is key to having clear skin. In addition, the following points should be considered when bringing your skin into top condition. Those of us who exercise and suffer no skin ailments have that “extra healthy glow” because of the essential blood circulation during cardiovascular activity.
A typical cleansing product, one that targets to “cure acne” doesn’t mean that the product will cure acne induced by exercise, perspiration and extra sebum production. A common complaint among exercisers is dry skin, a proper cleanser is in order with correct ingredients to cure the acne condition while not drying the skin. Examples of the proper cleansing agent would contain organic salicylic acid, astringents, and Aloe Vera gel. During exercise the extra sebum is brought to the surface of the skin thus a special “deep pore” cleanser is needed to remove the extra production of fluids and bacteria. Cleansing your skin up to a half-hour post workout is a must! Water based products will sit on top of the skin where aloe vera products will be absorbed and nourishing to the skin.
Many high endurance athletes, swimmers and persons who engage in outdoor sports suffer from dry skin. Indoor workouts with dry air can cause the same condition. Again the high sodium (salt) content in perspiration is very drying. Exercise is said to be the fountain of youth, but when your skin is dried out from exercising in outdoor or indoor conditions, a dried wrinkly appearance is more prominent. Dry skin on your face can make you appear older rather than younger.
The best way to protect and enhance the exercisers’ skin is by applying a moisturizer that is scientifically formulated for fitness, prior to exercising. The moisturizer protects the skin by working as a barrier from sodium and bacteria while seeping into the pores of the skin, which naturally open during exercise. Elements of a top moisturizers contain red marine algae, sage extracts, and watercrest extracts. These elements purify and stabilize the skin.
Removing dead skin cells is another important step in keeping your skin vitalized. Our skin naturally produces ‘dead skin cells’; if this ‘dead skin’ layer is not removed by proper exfoliating a few times weekly, the only result will be cleansing and moisturizing these ‘dead skin’ cells therefore not receiving the full benefit of cleaning and moisturizing. Products containing loofah and jojoba beads are wonderful exfoliants which will not abrade delicate skin tissue.
Perspiration, bacteria and skin protectors such as sunscreen need to be removed especially from the face to create the condition for healthier skin, and to obtain the natural glow that we all strive to achieve.