Maybe you’re a competitive swimmer or maybe you just log some laps in the pool to stay fit. Either way, swimming makes up an important part of your week. But even as you get more toned and your lap times shrink, your hair is taking on a strange greenish tint and your skin feels like it’s been stretched over a drum and baked in a convection oven.
The green hair is easy – they make shampoo for that. It’s the copper that’s giving you the green. Look for a shampoo that removes it.
As for your skin, there is a widespread misconception out there about where so-called “swimmer’s skin” comes from. Contrary to popular belief, it is not the chlorine in the pool water that is to blame for your dry itchy skin – it’s the water itself.
At this point, you are probably wondering just how it is that simple unadulterated water can be to blame for drying out your skin. According to Dr. Norman Levine, “Chlorine may seem harsh, but the amount diluted in a swimming pool doesn`t have much of an effect on skin. Water, though, removes the thin layer of surface oil on skin that normally locks in moisture. Without that protective layer, fluid in the skin and surrounding cells evaporates rapidly, drying the skin. Lack of moisture also causes tiny fissures to develop, allowing the skin to become irritated and itchy.”
The key then is to help maintain that moisture barrier on your skin. There are three simple ways to help do this.
- The first place to look is at your cleanser. There are a variety of chlorine-fighting cleansers on the market that certainly won’t hurt your skin to try, but may not actually provide enough benefit to warrant the price tag. On the other hand, if you were to put that money into a simple, natural cleanser, you could be well on your way to healthy skin while you’re still n the shower.
- Pay attention to how you dry off. It is tempting to rub your body down with a big terry cloth towel when you get out of the pool. The friction form the towel can not only scrape that moisture barrier out of the way, it can also irritate and inflame your skin cells. Instead, try patting yourself dry gently. This may take a negligible amount of additional time, but your skin will thank you for it down the line.
- Experiment with different moisturizers. Look for waterproof and sweat-proof products if you can find them. Some moisturizers that offer superb protection may just feel too heavy on your skin and some of the more lightweight facial creams may seem as though they are gone – vanished – in 20 minutes or less. With a moisture barrier to protect and fortify, be sure to look for moisturizers that include Vitamins E and A. Also check the ingredients for natural extracts. A good rule of thumb: the fewer words, the better.
These are only a few of the many ways you can help maintain young, healthy skin. Try them out and see what works for you and what doesn’t. But whatever you do, do something to keep dry skin and premature aging at arm’s length.