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Looking Your Best When You Live an Active Lifestyle

woman running

We all understand that the benefits of regular exercise are far-reaching. Along with keeping our bodies healthy and looking toned and trim, working out can boost your mood, enhance your sleep patterns, and even rev up your sex life. But if you’re a regular gym-goer, you may have noticed that a strong exercise habit can come with its own aesthetic pitfalls. Here, learn how to keep your hair, breasts, and skin looking as good as the rest of your body even after years of punishing workouts. 

Your Skin

Adult acne is typically related to hormones, but sweat, bacteria, and other pore-clogging contaminants can also contribute to frequent breakouts. To keep extra oil and residue from hair products away from your skin when you sweat, be sure to tie your hair back, away from your face. If you have bangs, use a headband to push them back. Avoid touching your face while you’re working out, because bacteria on your hands can be transferred to your skin and lead to pimples. If you sweat a lot, use a clean, dry towel to blot sweat from your face. Finally, when your workout is over, wash with a mild cleanser intended just for the face.

Redness is also a common complaint among the very active. Temporary redness after physical exertion is natural, but redness that persists or is accompanied by bumps, stinging, or itching may be due to a condition called rosacea. Although rosacea isn’t dangerous, it can be frustrating and uncomfortable. Unfortunately, exercise is a common trigger. If you’re bothered by a flush that gets noticeably worse with exercise, eating spicy foods, or other environmental factors, see your general practitioner or a dermatologist. There are several effective options for managing the symptoms of rosacea.

Outdoor runners and other fitness enthusiasts may be faced with freckles and other types of brown discoloration. While many people like the look of a smattering of speckles, others prefer creamy complexions. Be sure to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen at least 30 minutes before you head out. Choose an SPF of at least 35, and reapply every couple of hours. Keeping your skin shielded from the sun can prevent your existing freckles from darkening and keep new ones from developing (not to mention protect you from sunburn and skin cancer). At home, choose moisturizers and serums that contain ingredients such as soy lecithin and retinol. These products speed up cellular turnover to fade spots and keep your skin soft and healthy.

Your Breasts

Our breasts are supported by a complex system of connective tissue, keeping them high and perky in our youth. As we age, this tissue gradually loses elasticity and strength, leading to sagginess. But other factors can affect these support structures as well, including — you guessed it — exercise.

High-impact exercises, such as running, cause the breasts to bounce, and the repetitive motions can strain the supportive tendons and tissues. This can potentially lead to premature sagginess. When it comes to droopy breasts, a good sports bra is the best line of defense. This is especially important for women who have naturally large breasts or breast augmentations.  Sacramento-area plastic surgeon Dr. Wayne Yamahata advises recent surgery patients to take a break from working out for at least a month following surgery. This allows the chest muscle and other nearby tissues to heal undisturbed and stave off sagginess or other irregularities.

Be sure to try on plenty of sports bras when shopping, because they are often sized differently than regular bras. While you’re in the dressing room, don’t be afraid to take each bra for a “test drive.” Bend over, stretch, and lie down to ensure your breasts stay stable and the bra is comfortable in a variety of positions. Hop up and down or do a few jumping jacks to assess bounce. If you’re a frequent exerciser, pick up enough to slow down wear and tear. Once you notice your bras beginning to lose their elasticity, it’s time to pick up a few new ones to ensure your breasts don’t follow suit.

Your Hair

Active lifestyles create a variety of hair hazards. Chlorinated pools, UV exposure, and frequent post-workout washing can leave hair dry, damaged, and unmanageable — a major frustration for image-conscious gym-goers.

One relatively new solution for avoiding dryness even after frequent showers is cleansing with conditioner only, called “co-washing.” Although it seems counterintuitive, most commercial conditioners are formulated with enough surfactants to cleanse hair of dirt and grime without stripping it of its natural oils. Many co-wash converts report that their hair is less frizzy and easier to manage.

If you’re pressed for time or want to hold on to yesterday’s blowout, dry shampoos can absorb excess oil and sweat for hair that looks and smells perfectly fresh without water.

To further reduce unnecessary damage, cut down on your heat styling habit. Let your hair air dry a few times a week, and save the flat iron for special occasions.

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