Sport may be a natural elixir for beautiful skin, but people who stay active by jogging, cycling, swimming or any other kind of strenuous activity that makes them sweat know that the skin is subjected to a lot of stress.
Staying active helps make the skin look better because the tissue is supplied with oxygen and has the benefit of better blood circulation, making it tighter, said Heike Falkenstein, a cosmetician.
To use these advantages optimally, sports enthusiasts should not only take precautions before exercising, but also follow the right steps afterwards as well.
"The type of care depends on the individual skin type and the condition of the skin. Dry skin requires another type of care than mixed skin," said Elena Helfenbein, an expert with the German association of cosmeticians.
"It's important for sporty people to regularly cleanse their skin and remove any grease, sweat and chlorine."
A short, warm shower using a mild shower gel is adequate. Using hot water rinses away too much of the skin's own oil and people who take cold showers quickly start sweating again, said Falkenstein. Shower gel should have a pH-value of 5.5 because this is similar to the skin's own pH. Many products are described as pH-neutral, but this is misleading, she said. This equates to a value of 7, which is not suitable for the skin because it will dry it out.
The skin also should be thoroughly dried off. Falkenstein said people used to believe that a little bit of water left on the skin helped it stay moisturised. Specialists now know that's not true. When the water begins to evaporate, more moisture is pulled away from the skin. Moisturising the skin after exercising is, however, very important.
"An athlete who breaks into a good sweat activates his body's cooling system. Sweat helps cool the body down," said Jenny Pohl, spokeswoman for the German association of medical and nutritional retailers and manufacturers. "Because minerals and salt also flow out of the body in the sweat, sensitive skin in particular can become irritated."
The solution is to drink a lot of fluids and use lotion. Pohl added that people who love the outdoors should use a natural aloe vera gel, which has a light texture, provides a lot of moisture and is an ideal after-sun product.
Physically active people should avoid lotions that have a lot of fat in them. These can leave an unpleasant feeling on the skin, especially when the person sweats, said Helfenbein. A light moisturiser is better.
Helfenbein added that putting on lotion before swimming is good advice because the chlorine in the water dries the skin out. Swimmers should always take a shower after being in the pool and then put lotion on.
Women who cannot do without makeup while working out should use a light mineral makeup or a powder foundation. A rich foundation can feel unpleasant and can quickly start to look spotty and ugly during a workout, said Helfenbein, adding that waterproof mascara is also recommended.