Save our skin! The best skincare for cyclists
My skin has taken a beating over the years. I remember when I was a snowboarder and model turning up to an important shoot with the most horrendous goggle makes that made me look like Fred Flintstone with his permanent five o’clock shadow. The poor make-up artist had a choice between making the top half of my face the same deep bronze hue as the bottom or trying to tone down the outrageous tan I was sporting from the ears down. She told me then that I needed to take better care of myself, handing me a tube of Embryolisse and telling me to start wearing sunscreen all the time. I took her advice and haven’t regretted it since.
When you spend so much time outside in the elements, taking good care of your skin becomes less about looking good and more about feeling well. The sun, wind, rain, cold, runny eyes, runny noses and extremes of temperature can all make your largest organ cranky and sore skin is a particularly rotten kind of pain, simply because it’s mainly avoidable if you use a little common sense.
Over the years I’ve found brands that really work for cyclists and athletes and discovered the best skincare products for outdoor enthusiasts through trial and error and word of mouth. The products I rely on are best for those of us with sensitive, dry or normal skin – I can’t vouch for skincare products for oily types, as I don’t have that kind of skin myself.
Finding a sunscreen that works for cycling took me a long time and a lot of persistence but last year I finally found one that ticks all the boxes. Previously, I’d found any high SPF sunscreens with staying power made me feel really hot and uncomfortable, as if my skin couldn’t breathe and was covered in a thick plastic film. Either that or they ran and dripped into my eyes.
Not so Premax SPF 50 Suncreen. It’s quick to dry, stays put, isn’t a pain to put on, doesn’t feel like you’ve a film all over your face and you can put makeup on top of it. It’s also water resistant for up to four hours. I won’t use anything else.
Skin Repair Cream
When I raced Glacier 360 with Kym Nonstop last year, the three days of high altitude wind, rain and sun played havoc with my skin. Kym had some fancy skincare oil and cream and told me to use as much of it as I liked, which I did but it didn’t heal my sore lizard skin. At the airport I tried Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour ‘Skin Protectant Nighttime Miracle Moisturiser’ and it was a revelation. My skin felt immediately rescued and permanently soothed. It’s not cheap but a little goes a long way and it’s seriously amazing.
I’m not a fan of insects but then again, who is? I’m even less a fan of spraying myself with noxious chemicals in an attempt to deter them so my weapon of choice is Avon Skin So Soft moisturizing body spray, which also gives your limbs a nice sheen – the perfect compliment to Lycra attire. I don’t know why it works but it just does – this is the US Army’s bug repellant of choice (supposedly).
I just don’t understand people who don’t use chamois cream when road cycling – you’ve simply got to take care of your delicate parts! A good chamois cream is soft, gentle, prevents chafing and saddle sores and is antimicrobial. Why wouldn’t you want that? ASSOS have long been known for their superior Performance Chamois Crème and recently added a specially formulated women’s version. Try it and you won’t regret it. Swoop here.
It’s doesn’t contain sunscreen but I swear by cheap and cheerful Vaseline as it does a fine job of keeping lips supple and moisturized. I like the ‘Rosy Lips’ version as it’s (very) subtly tinted – I sometimes mix in a bit of lippy for some extra colour. Grab one here.
I have crazy dry hands, partly from cycling but also because I like to wash them plenty to try and avoid catching colds and viruses – if you train an awful lot you can actually slightly weaken your immune system so it’s worth taking what care you can to get rid of bugs. Neutrogena’s Norwegian Formula Hand Cream helps heal dry, cracked hands or protects them from the worst of the elements . Ideally, put it on regulary so you don’t wind up with sore hands but if you don’t (I didn’t take any to Iceland last year) it fixes your hands up fairly quickly. It’s pretty greasy so a little goes a long way.
And finally, let’s talk about embrocation. What even is it? A kind of cream or balm that you put on your legs, usually before racing, to warm them up, I’ve never used embrocation so I can’t recommend it or otherwise. Have you any experience of it? Have you any other cyclist’s skincare essentials to share? Do let me know in the comments below.