Get the low-down on how to take care of your skin after swimming, avoiding the drying effects of chlorine and other irritants in the water.
The Swimmer’s Guide to Skincare
How can you protect your skin from the drying effects of pool water? It’s partly about minimising how much chlorine and other irritants your skin absorbs – moisturise well in advance and always shower before a swim. More generally you’ll want to take good care of yourself. Very hot showers and baths are not your friend, so dial down their temperature. And make sure to drink plenty of water throughout your day, especially if you’re planning a dip.
Products and skincare
1. What beauty treatments can help a swimmer’s skin?
A little exfoliation can go a long way when it comes to keeping skin soft. This might be courtesy of an exfoliating mitten, a loofah or an oil-based salt scrub. Whatever your favoured method, pay special attention to your knees and elbows as these can be your driest areas. Another plus? Your newly smooth skin – cleaned of dead cells – will more readily absorb moisturiser.
An overnight skin mask
When it comes to beating dry skin, the overnight mask is a real heavyweight. Go for one with hydrating properties and slather on a generous layer before bed. Tip: You might want to put a towel over your pillow to avoid moisturising more than your face.
The use of lemons
Ever find your knees look a little discoloured? Try rubbing them with half a lemon to ease dryness and dark patches.
2. Which moisturisers work well?
Any quality moisturiser will hydrate skin and, while you’re in the pool, act as a barrier to the chlorinated water. Products containing antioxidants such as vitamin C and E score major points for swimmers. And how about a nourishing oil? These can easily absorb into your skin – choose your preferred blend and massage across your whole body.
And don’t forget: If you’re likely to catch the sun, opt for a moisturiser with a high SPF factor.
3. What can soothe eczema and sensitive skin?
A thick layer of emollient cream will lend you a protective barrier while swimming. Then as soon as you’ve hit land again, wash using a fragrance-free shower gel and chase this with a moisturiser. If the eczema is on your hands or feet, you could try an intensive moisturising treatment. Apply this at bedtime before pulling on a pair of cotton gloves or socks to wear overnight.
At the pool
4. Can swimmers wear make-up without it smudging?
A little make-up can be worn if chosen carefully. To cover blemishes and imperfections, make-up artist Linda Hay recommends a CC cream or a tinted moisturiser, especially those containing SPF if you’ll be exposed to any sun rays. In terms of blushers and eye shadows, it’s best to find cream-textured ones as these beat powders when it comes to resisting water.
As for mascara, look out for products specially designed for sports players and later use some cotton wool and an oil-based remover to wipe it away. Alternatively, you could dig a little deeper for an eyelash tint – a great option for people who like minimum fuss in the mornings.
5. When do you need to shower?
If you shower before a swim, your skin being wet will mean it’ll absorb less chlorine. Wash thoroughly afterwards too although, be warned, using very hot water will strip away your skin’s natural oils. Turn down the heat and go for a moisturising shower cream before patting your skin dry. It’s then wise to work in your lotion straightaway – by moisturising when your skin is still moist you’ll help the product to soak in better.
A swimmer’s diet
6. Which foods nourish your skin?
It’s all about those essential fatty acids and omega-3. Swap your chicken for salmon, slice an avocado on to toast, or sprinkle nuts and chia seeds over your salads and breakfast muesli.
7. How much water should you drink?
To keep your skin refreshed, drink plenty of water both before and after a swim. Performance nutritionist Alex Popple says: “Generally, the rule is to drink about 125ml of fluid for every kilometre swum." Even a slight degree of dehydration can cause you to feel tired and less mentally sharp.