Running and Summer Skin Care

I enjoy running in the summer.  I love the sun and don’t mind the heat that much.  The sun loves me in the sense that I have always been one to tan quite easily.  I can step outside for 10 minutes and come in with tan lines.  I was the envy of my friends on spring break and rarely have I ever burned.


Seriously, that tan!

But over the years I have spent plenty of time out in the sun, especially as I became a more avid runner, and sadly I have started to see some of the effects of the sun on my face.  A few years ago I got sun damage on my forehead in the form of dark blotches.  I’m certainly not getting any younger and I have to live in the skin I am in for the rest of my life.

Now that I am pregnant I am also prone to chloasma or melasma, also known as “pregnancy mask.”  Increased estrogen causes a rise in melanin production in pregnant women.  Up to 50-70% of women end up with dark blotches on their skin due to this increased production.  Sun exposure makes these spots worse.  Fortunately they tend to disappear after delivery, but no one wants to walk around with a splotchy face for several months.

Runners, namely marathoners, are especially prone to melanoma.  Studies have shown that runners are at a much higher risk of skin cancer.  Knowing how much time we spend outdoors training in the summer, it is no wonder that we are putting ourselves at danger.  Add all of the sweat on our skin and the sun reflecting off of it for hours and you can see how damaging this could be.

Fortunately, there are a few things we can do to protect our skin.  Below are a few tips to keep you safe and your skin glowing:

Apply sunscreen 20-30 minutes before you head out for a run.

Wear at least an SPF 30 and try to reapply after every 2 hours.

Avoid running in the sun at the most intense times of the day between 10:00am-4:00pm. I also recommend avoiding these times because it is way to hot!

Wear sunglasses to help protect your eyes and also keep you from squinting which will increase wrinkles and skin damage.

Make sure you get your shoulders and gentlemen don’t forget your heads!

Many companies now make great clothes with SPF built into the garments.  These are also great for the beach.   You might also want to consider getting a running hat or visor.  While I can’t stand to have a hat on when I run, I love having a great beach hat for my post run cool off.

I also tend to have oily and acne prone skin which kept me from wearing sunscreen for a long time.  But I have two products that I love using and wanted to make sure to share both with you:

The first is a powder based SPF from Peter Thomas Roth which comes in a tube and is easily applied with the brush.  This serves a twofold purpose for me.  While it is easy to dab on before a run, I love, love, love, that I can put it on my skin over make up over even sans make up and not have to worry about my skin looking greasy.  This stuff is amazing!


This one is my ultimate favorite as it has a built in acne medication included.  I haven’t been able to find it anywhere lately so if you find it, please let me know!


The second is Neutrogena Clear Skin SPF.  This stuff works well on runs and doesn’t streak into my eyes.  It also keeps your skin from getting too greasy and doesn’t cause breakouts.



I also love this because it is oil free, easy to pop in a running belt and doesn’t run when you do!

Thanks to these two products there is no reason to avoid throwing something on your face before you go for a run or even just head out the door for the day.  Stay safe!

What is your preferred sun protection product?

20 thoughts on “Running and Summer Skin Care

  1. After a scare with skin cancer a few years ago, I have become wise to sun protection. When everyone else is putting on baby oil I’m apply SPF 50 like a nut! haha Anyway! I use Neutrogena Oil-free Moisturizer with an SPF in it for every day use but I’m a Coppertone gal, SPF 50 🙂

  2. I am similar to you in this way! I get super tan (thanks Italian heritage). I’ve also been getting tons of dark splotches in my face from the sun and increased age, as I turned 30 last fall. I also get oily skin, so I like to use a moisturizer with SPF 30 at all times on my face. It still doesn’t
    prevent the dark spots, so I have been using a Neutragena dark spot remover and it works pretty well. Oh, summer.

  3. Especially now that I am down in GA, the heat and humidity remind you of how strong the sun really is. We forget about how much of us is exposed when we are running I always wear a hat and sunscreen on my face, and if I know that I will be in the sun I’ll do the body stuff too. Usually I’m better about it but I’ve been slacking a bit on it this summer.

  4. I wish I could use Neutrogena on my face. It makes me breakout. The only product that I found that works for me so far is Kiehl’s. It’s really pricey so I’d love to find a cheaper alternative.

  5. GREAT tips and reminders. I’ve been good about SPF on my face this year but TERRIBLE about wearing it on the rest of my body! I am like you, I tan easily and rarely burn so I think I’m fine, but I’m 32 and I am starting to see it in my face and need to keep it protected!

    • Ugh I am right there with you about protecting the rest of my body. And when you don’t burn it is hard to remember. Having a baby I think will make us all more diligent in this house.

  6. i actually don’t have a preference — i usually use that blue bottle (Coppertone, i think??), and the spray stuff is nice and easy. 🙂 my skin isn’t very sensitive, but i recently had my first allergic-to-sunscreen incident when i went to Vegas this spring. it was some random organic one i got in a Birchbox that seemed like it’d be great, but my face was a disasterrrrrr from it.

  7. I just bought an SPF hat and wore it at the Voyageur Trail Ultra – 85 degrees and bright sunshine in the second half (miles 26-50). Made a huge difference over my spring 50, where the heat and sun nailed hatless me at mile 40. Sailed to the finish this time! Can’t recommend it enough. That, plus ice under the hat is a lifesaver.

    • So glad you found something that worked so well for you. I know it isn’t easy to find a good one. And right now, in this hot Chicago heat, ice under the hat sounds amazing!

  8. A really great post and something that runners don’t always think about! I work for a cancer charity and we’re constantly trying to get people to be careful when they’re out in the sun and to keep sun safe 🙂 I am however very jealous at what a lovely colour you are! Thanks for sharing 🙂

      • We do indeed 🙂 We have constant battles with gents in particular who don’t think it’s important! I learned the other day that the sun cream you apply once, needs to be applied more than once! Good on you for sharing and getting it on the runner-radar!

    • You are giving me hat envy. I always think you look so cute in your running pics with your hat. Definitely check out the powder. It is so nice to be able to dab it on before a run or on top of make up and not feel greasy!

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