How To Protect Your Skin While Running – Women's Running UK

How To Protect Your Skin While Running

Author: Women's Running Magazine

Read Time:   |  July 17, 2017


protect your skin while running

While out running, your skin is exposed to the elements and can be prone to drying, flaking, sunburn and also harmful toxins, as a result of pollution. Running in the summertime can bring added challenges for your skin. Increased sweating, blocked pores, dryness, UV rays and dehydration can all play havoc with your complexion.

“When the sun comes out and the temperature rises it’s time to rethink your skincare,” says Abi Weeds, founder of organic skincare and an elite runner herself. “The heat increases the rate of cell turnover so you’ll need to cleanse and exfoliate more. You’ll also sweat more in the heat – which is great for your skin because it gets rid of toxins but it can increase the chance of irritation and blocked pores,” she adds. Take extra care to cleanse properly to avoiding leaving salt, sweat and bacteria on your skin. Sweating more will also mean you dehydrate faster which leaves your skin parched and at increased risk of breakouts.

But fear not! The WR Team are here to help, here are our top tips to protect your skin while running:

Keep skin hydrated

Skin can become dehydrated when exposed to the elements and, as a result, become sore and flaky. Restoring moisture to the skin will give cells a chance to repair and rehydrate after sun and wind exposure, as well as calming the skin’s surface. Drink water and use a light hydrating moisturiser.

How to protect your skin while running

Don’t Over Moisturise 

A common mistake runners make post-run is over compensating on the moisturiser and lathering too much on. “If you’ve sweated out dirt and toxins, you don’t want to put a heavy moisturiser back on. Instead, opt for light formulations and misting tonics that won’t overload your skin,’ says Abi Weeds.

Go Bare

Lisa Burton, manager at Ark Skincare, in Putney, recommends cleansing well before you head out for a summer run, removing all make-up and running barefaced apart from SPF protection. Add a dash of mascara and under-eye concealer if you really hate the idea of running in no make-up at all.

‘This might be tough if you feel uncomfortable bare, but I promise you will notice a difference in how your skin looks and feels after a week or so of doing this. You sweat more in the summer and if you’re wearing make-up while you exercise it clogs the pores. You’ll have clearer, brighter skin if you run barefaced and you’ll soon get used to it,’ says Burton.

How to protect your skin while running

Wash away impurities

Lisa advises cleansing before your run and again post-run. ‘Double cleanse to remove all the sweat and toxins that have come out of your pores. This avoids the build-up of bacteria that can trigger skin breakouts.’ When the skin heats up, extra blood is pumped to the surface to cool it off – turning your face red and making your skin swell, retain water and produce more oil.

After cleansing, apply a hydrating, misting toner sooth the skin before you moisturise. A de-stress cream or calming serum can also help reduce any redness and calm your skin. ‘Wait an hour or so, if possible, before you apply make-up. This will allow any redness to fade and give your skin a chance to normalise and calm,’ says Lisa.


Nadia Mitchell, ESPA beauty training manager, says exfoliation is essential in summer. ‘The skin can become thicker as it works to protect itself and this, combined with the sweat produced during exercise, could lead to blocked pores and a dull appearance. Use a gentle exfoliator once or twice per week, depending on your skin type to help buff the skin and refine pores for an even, smooth texture.’ Protect the skin on your body as you run with an organic skin block rather than a chemical SPF product. Nadia Mitchell suggests using a soap-free body wash after your run to help prevent dehydration. Exfoliate your body gently twice a week to keep skin clear and glowing. Apply a light, soothing body cream to combat any summer dryness or irritation.

How to protect your skin while running

Guard against pollution

For runners in the city this summer, it’s vital to protect skin from pollution. According to The Journal of Investigative Dermatology, pollution can cause uneven skin tone and accelerate ageing. Try a facial oil such as Arbonne’s Intelligence Nourishing Facial Oil, which contains fatty acids that shield the skin from negative environmental particles, while hydrating the layers und

Sun Protection 

During summer in particular it’s important to protect your skin from the UVA and UVB rays of the sun, which can cause skin cancer. “The sun’s UV rays can penetrate deep into your skin, so you can’t see where or when damage might be taking place,” warns Thea Cunningham, health information officer at Cancer Research UK.

“If your skin has gone pink or red in the sun, it’s sunburnt – and sunburn is a clear sign that the DNA in your skin cells has been damaged. Getting painful sunburn just once every two years can triple your risk of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, so always make sure your skin is well protected.” By simply applying a long-lasting and water resistant sunscreen, you can limit the sun’s rays from damaging the skin, and can also reduce signs of ageing and dark spots, which are common symptoms of sun damage.

Another good idea to reduce sun damage is wear a hat or visor, run shadier routes when the sun is at it’s hottest and run in the early morning or late evening when the suns intensity is lower.

How To Protect Your Skin While Running

Ten best tips for summer skincare

  1. Drink plenty of water to rehydrate as you’ll sweat more.
  2. Use a light moisturiser. Avoid overloading skin with heavy products.
  3. Wait an hour for skin to normalise before re-applying make-up if possible.
  4. Run barefaced (no make up)
  5. Cleanse before and after running.
  6. Exfoliate once or twice a week.
  7. Run in the early morning or late evening when humidity is lowest and the sun’s intensity lower. Or plan a shady route.
  8. Wear a hat or visor to protect your face and UV-blocking sunglasses to protect your sight and the delicate eye area. Shield skin and lips with a moisturiser or protective serum containing at least an SPF15.
  9. Try a facial oil, which contains fatty acids that shield the skin from negative environmental particles, while hydrating the layers underneath.
  10. Chill a flannel in ice-water. Ring out and hold against your neck post run to help cool blood flow and reduce redness.

Women's Running Magazine

NMA’s 2020 Lifestyle Magazine of the Year, Women’s Running provides expert advice on gear and training, motivation from your favourite runners and the latest running news.

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