We know how to look after our physical fitness, but we often overlook our skin. We spoke to Premax founder Randall Cooper to find out what we need to know and how to improve our skin fitness
Our skin is our largest organ and accounts for 15% of our bodyweight. It protects us from irritants, allergens and infections, and it regulates our body temperature – which is especially vital for us runners.
The problem? We so rarely think about it. I’ll admit, I’ll often feel smug when I remember to slap some sunscreen on on a sunny day, but it turns out that there is plenty more I need to be doing before I can consider myself a skin fitness pro. Luckily, we had an expert on hand to learn from. Randall Cooper is the founder of Premax, who make performance skincare. Read on to find out everything you need to know about skin fitness…
Sweat it out
The first thing that needs to be happening when you run is sweating. And skin is a key part of that process – as long as it isn’t being prevented by the products we put on it. “There are a number of studies appearing in peer-reviewed medical journals showing that using the ‘wrong’ kinds of sun cream or sports creams (usually mineral-based ones) can inhibit sweat production as much as an anti-perspirant,” says Randall. And of course, that’s not good for us runners – if we’re not sweating properly, then we’re not cooling down properly, and that can have a huge effect on our wellbeing and performance.
The solution? Make sure that any products you use pre-run have been designed exclusively for sport by a reputable company, and check the ingredients for those problematic minerals.
None of us enjoy getting a blister, but Randall explains that even a hotspot can cause a big problem for our skin health. “Broken skin is trouble,” he says. “As soon as it happens, an infection can set in, which can lead to time off from exercise, or worse.”
Prevention is better than cure of course. “Shoe and sock selection is really important for blisters,” he says. “Keeping feet dry is key, and it may also be useful to protect hot areas with a balm to get ahead of any rubbing.”
Chafing can also cause broken skin. Randall recommends avoiding cotton underwear or shorts, and being aware of seams that could cause problems as you move. “Salt from can actually also cause chafing and some quite unpleasant injuries,” Randall says. He recommends taking a change of clothing for longer runs to avoid salt build-up.
Keep it clean
I’ll admit, I’m often guilty of dodging the shower straight after a run in favour of a snack on the sofa. But that’s a big no-no, says Randall. “Bacteria, such as staphylococci, rests on our skin,” he explains. “Studies have found that those bugs multiply after exercise. As you run, your sweat will keep you clean, but as the sweat settles, and the bacteria starts to increase, it can be an issue and cause infection – especially if you have broken skin. There’s also urea and ammonia in sweat, which can irritate skin if left on too long.”
We all know that we should be wearing sunscreen more often than we probably do, but it can be tricky to know exactly when and how much to be wearing. “The recommendation is that we should be using sunscreen any time the UV index is above 3 – that’s usually March – October in the UK,” says Randall. And we need more than just a spritz on our way out the door. “Obviously it depends how much skin is exposed but as a rule of thumb, you need about 30ml for full-body application, with 5ml for the face.”
How we put our sun protection on is important, too. “A lot of people don’t rub in sunscreen well,” says Randall. “We want the sunscreen to sink into the skin layer as much as possible – if it’s sitting on top of the skin, it’ll start to drain off as you sweat, reducing its efficacy and causing irritation if it gets in your eyes.”
Wind might be the last thing we think of when it comes to our skin, but Randall wants to change that. Wind can cause a fair amount of skin damage on its own, but the real issue comes with a sun/wind combination. “Wind and sun together can make you more prone to sun and irradiation damage than just the sun on its own – and of course, as you run, you increase that wind resistance against your skin,” says Randall. “A weather defence product can be really helpful for that, like our Weather Defence Facial Cream. We recommend applying our sunscreen and rubbing it in well, allowing it to fully dry, then adding Weather Defence on top.”
You can find more advice from Randall, and info on Premax products, here.