5 Ways to Protect Your Skin While Running Outdoors

Shannon Farrell
woman running outside

Photo: Getty Images

We all have tons of excuses for not running outside in the winter — it’s too cold, it gets dark too early and all that time in the winter air dries out our skin like a raisin. While we can’t change the temperature or be your personal alarm clock in the morning, we can offer you some simple tips to prevent harsh (and sometimes painful) drying.

Prevent Wind Burn
After a run, your face may be dry, red and blotchy — most likely the result of wind burn. Caused by a combination of cold air and low humidity, the skin’s natural oils are depleted, resulting in dry, sensitive skin. To prevent, keep your skin covered. Although a face mask may be a little extreme, do layer on gloves, a hat or headband (to protect the ears), and a neck warmer. Slathering moisturizer on exposed skin is also imperative.

Lotion Up Ankles
Thick, yet flexible, spandex are the running attire of choice this time of year. Our one complaint with the pants — they expose the ankles. While the rest of the leg can be hydrated after the run (preferably just after a shower when the skin is still damp), the ankles should be covered up with lotion before you head out. Our new favorite for the legs is St. Ives Fresh Hydration Lotion ($7.69, stives.com) because the formula is super light so it dries instantly. Plus, it’s a spray so it also applies quickly. It’s a win-win.

Layer on SPF
The sun may not feel as strong, but trust us, it’s still here. (Remember the sun’s rays can still peek through on even the cloudiest of days). Be sure to apply SPF to any exposed skin, especially the ears and nose where the sun directly hits.

Wear Breathable Layers
It’s like a domino effect. You want to stay warm, but overheating can trigger excessive sweating. And sweating, we know, causes body acne. Instead layer on the clothes, starting with soft, moisture-wicking materials against your skin and pulling thicker materials, like cotton or wool, on top. And if you’re running along a track or doing loops, you can always discard top pieces when you start to warm up.

Protect Your Lips
Did you know that breathing through your mouth causes chapped lips? While it is possible to run while breathing through your nose, it’s not easy. Instead, apply an SPF lip balm before heading out. And whatever you do, don’t lick your lips. It actually dries them out even more.

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