If you are a new outdoor runner thanks to the pandemic, you might be worried about the ageing effects of exposing your skin to the enviroment while working up a sweat. Fear not. As a longterm, gym-phobic outdoor jogger (I wouldn't quite call it running) it has been my mission to perfect my pre- and post-run skincare regime. Here is what I have discovered.
The Myth of Runner’s Face
I remember someone once telling me they would never run because they heard that running ages you. All that shaking up and down apparently loosens all your face muscles like a marquee being knocked about in a storm. As I researched this, I learned that ‘runner’s face’ was largely a myth perpetuated by the cosmetic industry to sell Botox. Running actually has a lot of benefits to the skin, as increased blood flow circulates nutrients to the skin, increasing collagen and cell regeneration.
However, if you are worried, you can up your antioxidant intake: vitamin C serums plus leafy greens and fruit should do it (see post-run skincare below).
Fact: Sunscreen is Number One
Damage caused by the environment and sun, especially when running outdoors, is real and obviously contributes to ageing as well as more serious conditions like skin cancer. Before setting off, this SPF goes on my face, neck and chest (even if I am wearing a hoodie): Germaine De Cappuccini’s Golden Caresse Advanced Anti-Ageing Emulsion SPF50 (50ml, £47.30). If you have dry skin, apply on top of your moisturiser (although sweat is a natural emollient, see below). You should also apply this 30 minutes before you set off.
I have not burned on a run yet, but I try to take sheltered paths as often as possible and wear a UV protected baseball cap, or bamboo cotton sweat band, which also doubles as a facemask if I pass a nervous looking dogwalker.
*If wearing a facemask on your run (essential in busier towns), cleanse before and after your run (don’t exfoliate or use an abrasive cleanser as you will be more exposed to sun damage). There is no point in applying moisturisers as your skin will produce natural oils in the sweat. Seriously, sweat is good. It activates natural sebum and urea (often added to moisturisers), is hydrating and anti-bacterial.
Post Run: In the Shower
After my run I want to achieve three things – cooling down (not looking like a beetroot), cleansing and then repairing any damage, both to my body and my face. In the shower I do a cold burst then warm it up slowly with Natural Spa Factory’s Yuzu Oil and Marjoram Body Wash (£12.50). The yuzu smells grapefruit-y and is an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and mood lifter.
I’ll also cleanse my face in the shower. As it may be feeling a little raw, red and hot, I use Dermalogica’s super-gentle Ultracalming Cleanser (250ml, £33) to calm and cool the redness and fortify the skin’s protective barrier.
Out of the Shower
Hot and bothered? You can achieve an instant cool-down by applying La Rue Verte Soothing Body Balm (50ml, £39.95). It contains CBD oil, menthol and geranium – the menthol gives me blissful tingly chills, and the CBD is said to relax aching muscles and be anti-bacterial, too. (Sometimes I apply it to the soles of my feet before heading out for a run: it keeps them soft).
If you are not comfortable with cannabinoid extracts, Temple Spa’s Aaahhh! (150ml, £20) does the same job – it has natural extracts of peppermint, clary sage and black pepper.
Normally, I’d whip out a cheap roll-on deodorant. But lately I have discovered Wild, a natural, sustainable deodorant delivered to your door (pictured below). The zero-plastic, aluminium free deodorant refill is made from plants and is compostable; the case is recycled plastic and is designed to last. You choose your case, your plan (refills are £5 every 2-4 months) and if you subscribe, you get your first case and refill for £12. Scents include rose, mint, coconut, bergamont – I picked orange although the scent isn’t overpowering. Luckily, it comes with clear instructions and is easy to use. And, yes, it works perfectly. No sweat.
At the moment, I use Murad’s Vita-C Glycolic Brightening Serum (30ml, £72). It’s a cleanser-serum in one, the glycolic acid removing dead skin cells, and vitamin C brightening skin tone and repairing free radical damage. It feels fresh and tingly, and after using for a few weeks I have noticed my skin looking more even in tone, visibly smoother and tighter.
Often, my face retains its redness and warmth for a while after the shower, so I avoid anything too warming. I’m a big fan of Murad’s Vitamin C Moisturiser (with SPF), but lately I’ve got into Germaine de Capuccini’s So Delicate Tolerance Rich Care (£61.15). It feels beautifully cold on my skin and instantly reduces redness. It’s great after running, but also for menopausal flushes, too.
What I listen to while running:
Beyonce's 'Freedom' (feat. Kendrick Lamar) - "I'ma keep running 'cos women don't quit on themselves."