Summer’s here, and the sun is shining. And that means you might be ready to take all of your workouts outdoors. From morning runs at your local park to sunrise yoga classes, exercising outside is a great way to get your fitness on while enjoying some much-needed vitamin D after months of being cooped up inside. (For real: Did anyone else think this winter was particularly brutal?!)
But before you lace up your sneakers and head out the door, it’s important to switch up your summer skincare routine. Your skin has different needs in the summer months, as all that heat and humidity can lead to seriously shiny skin.
Plus, sun protection is particularly essential in the summer when you’re more likely to spend more time outside. Not wearing sunscreen and sun protective accessories leaves you prone to sunburns and damage that could lead to skin cancer down the road.
Throw outdoor workouts into the mix and you want to make sure you’re caring for your skin the right way. Here’s how to keep your skin clear while the sweat piles up and how to stay sun safe when you work out outdoors.
Spend a little bit of time prepping.
Have a run planned after work? Take everything that’s on your face off beforehand. Makeup and cosmetics can be very occlusive, meaning they keep moisture in, says Will Richardson, M.D., board-certified dermatologist.
“During exercise, the sweat ducts swell and will cause the size of the follicles to shrink, making the cosmetics on the surface of the skin even more occlusive.” Why you don’t want that to happen: “Sweating is a very important function for cooling, and you want the pores to be free of debris to make sure the body can restore equilibrium during high activity,” says Richardson.
You don’t have to spend a ton of time prepping, though. A quick cleanse with a towelette or micellar water (both of which are easily portable) to remove your makeup is all you need. Craig Kraffert, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and preside of Amarte Skin Care, says there’s no evidence that removing makeup before a workout decreases your risk of acne. Everyone’s skin is different, however, so Kraffert suggests paying attention to how your skin reacts to determine the best prep plan for you.
Apply sunscreen liberally.
This rule shouldn’t just be followed before an outdoor workout but for summer in general. Look for a sunscreen that’s broad-spectrum, water-resistant, non-comedogenic (meaning it won’t clog pores), and with an SPF 30 or higher, suggests Kraffert. Richardson explains that SPF only protects against UVB rays (those are the ones that burn), so using a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which also protects against damaging UVA rays, is key.
Water-resistance is a good quality to look for in a sunscreen if you’re exercising outside. “This is important if swimming, excessive perspiration, or repeated wiping of exposed skin is likely,” says Kraffert. Amarte Skin Care Ultra Veil Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid SPF 50 is water-resistant for up to 40 minutes and absorbs quickly without clogging pores.
When applying sunscreen, do so liberally. “The number one mistake is under-application of the product,” says Richardson. “It takes a full ounce to cover sun exposed areas.” If you’re using a spray, the rule is a six-second spray per region, and you should rub the sunscreen in after spritzing it on, says Richardson. Apply every 40 minutes if you’re swimming or sweating, says Kraffert. On normal days, reapply every two hours.
Wear the right workout gear.
Beyond sunscreen, you may want to consider UPF clothing. (UPF stands for ultraviolet protection factor.)
“What makes UPF clothing and gear so special is that the materials used are woven tightly enough to prevent penetration of ultraviolet light,” says Richardson. “In the past, these fabrics were heavy and hot. Newer, breathable fabrics are now available that cool the body with use.” You can find everything from body suits to hats to visors. Richardson recommends UPF use during water-based activities and sports so you don’t have to worry too hard about reapplying sunscreen frequently.
Cool down and cleanse.
Ahhh… is there anything better than a cool shower after being out in the heat? “Whether it’s a dip in a cool pool, a cool bath, or shower, cool the skin back to its baseline temperature,” says Richardson. “A register to look for is a return to normal skin with the absence of redness.”
You’ll want to use a gentle cleanser post-workout, too. “It is important to eliminate oil, scale, salt, and possibly makeup after a workout, to prevent these materials from congealing in pores,” says Kraffert. “Cleansing with gentle cleanser—or, if you have the bathroom access, a mild exfoliant—is best. Anything congealed at the surface causing surface bumps should be washed away.”
Towelettes work in a pinch, but they don’t offer quite a deep as clean as a traditional cleanser, so you should still wash your face at the sink when you get home, says Kraffert. Post-cleanse, apply a moisturizer with antioxidants like green tea, vitamin C, and vitamin E. These can help reduce the damage associated with UV exposure, says Richardson.