Skintervention: A Cyclist's Quest for Decent Skin, from Head to Toe
I know some people who don’t work out or train at all. And—despite me maybe being slightly healthier by the numbers—if you put us in a lineup, I can almost guarantee that you’d say that the non-workout types look better, especially if you’re just looking at our faces. This is because I’ve fallen into a trap that I think is fairly common for us outdoorsy types, especially in the summer. Our skin goes to hell.
Hear me out. Between riding and running and sweating with thick layers of sunscreen, being slightly dehydrated, swimming in random bodies of water and pools, and spending significantly more time on training as opposed to grooming, it’s pretty easy to turn into a but of a skin slob, especially as it gets hotter out. Oh, and add to that that instead of spending time on getting ready to go out in the morning, I spend my time getting ready to WORK out. That means I tend to skip/phone in skincare, hair styling, makeup (and clothing, but that’s an issue for another article) on most normal days.
I had a bit of a meltdown (literally and figuratively) when I was in Austin a couple weeks ago, since between all of the travel plus the ridiculous air conditioning in the conference I was at followed by heat, humidity and constantly reapplied sunscreen—repeated several times a day—my skin was a mess by the time I got back to Canada. It didn’t help that while I was in Austin, I was alternating between trying to look professional and neatly put together, and running in a sports bra and shorts in the park, sweating up a storm.
I may be in arguably good shape—eating better, training smarter—but my skin would beg to differ. And I’m not great at hiding it. (By that, I mean I’m entirely too lazy to commit to any kind of coverage routine, since it’s all going to sweat off anyway.) So when I got back, looked in a mirror, and started to get upset, I did what always worked when I was younger: scrub the hell out of my skin. All that did was make every pore in my body angry, though. I realized, at the age of 28, it might be time to be a little more careful, and spend a teensy bit more time on maintenance. I’ve never had perfect skin—I’ve always struggled with oily and sensitive skin, plus legs that I shave on a nearly daily basis.
So I staged a Skintervention. That’s right, I’m sticking to that ridiculous terminology. Who’s the journalist here?
In my quest, I’ve been trying out a few new things, and I figured I’d share here.
- Sugar scrub: instead of scraping away with just a loofah and some hand soap, I actually tried exfoliating with a sugar scrub. Definitely made shaving less terrible, and helped avoid the ingrown hair that I occasionally suffer during the summer when I’m constantly in tight, sweaty shorts.
- Sunscreen: of the oil-free variety. I’ve always been good about using sunscreen, but now I’m a bit pickier with which type I use. But more to the point, I’ve started making an effort to immediately get in the shower or at least rinse my face when I get in after wearing it, since I think the pore-clogging effect is what’s making me feel oily and have skin issues. And I admit, I like the spray because I can easily get to my back, which is where I almost always end up burning.
- Biore Self-Heating One Time Use Masks: this was an impulse buy but an awesome one for someone like me who travels a ton. I’ve been using these once a week for three weeks now and I find that the heat and the charcoal based mask really do make my skin feel way cleaner and look a lot better. Plus, since it’s single use packs, they can come in my toiletries bag easily, and they aren’t messy at all.
- Sacrylic Acid Acne Treatment: I wasn’t psyched resorting to chemicals for any of this, but I had a couple of spots where the acne just wasn’t going away. So I brought out the big guns, felt like an unattractive 12 year old (I swear, the olfactory memory brought me right back to seventh grade), and it worked. So I’m toting this around in the summer for emergencies only.
- Razors: I am super pissed about this one. You know how all of the ‘how to shave your legs’ articles always talk about new, sharp razors? Well, what sucks is that they’re right. So after trying pretty much every one on the market, I’ve accepted that there are a couple disposable styles that work well for me, and I’m going to have to just buy them more often and toss them after a few uses. No more month-at-a-time razors for me. Sigh.
- Witch Hazel: I have to say, this has been my favorite. I always heard about it being used for a toner, but I just recently started using it as a toner/cleanser, and it’s been really positive. My skin looks a lot better, it controls oil without drying, and it’s a pretty natural/not harsh way to keep my face under control throughout the day, without washing it constantly.
- I didn’t add this to the graphic, but #7 is the big one: drinking way more water. I’ve been really trying to make sure I’m staying hydrated, because I know that the second I’m slightly dehydrated, my skin looks even worse, and I turn red at the drop of a hat. And with how much travel we do, hydration is such a huge thing—it’s easy to drink when you’re in one spot, but when you’re moving around a ton, it’s easy to forget. So that’s been a big switch, and one that I’m really trying to stick with.
The only thing I might try adding (and if I do, I’ll post an addendum here) is Argan oil as a face and body moisturizer. Anyone have any experience with it? I’ve never liked it for hair but I definitely need some kind of lotion situation and for daily stuff, I’d rather keep it natural if possible.
This piece will be cross-published over at saddlesorewomen.com