Dry skin can be a problem for anyone in winter, when cold air and low humidity take their toll, but swimmers often suffer worse than others. Your skin has a protective layer of lubricating sebum that makes it semi-waterproof and helps limit the damage caused by chlorine. However, prolonged contact with water and pool chemicals can reduce this protective skin barrier, leaving your skin flaky, itchy, burning, and irritated.
“Frequent exposure to the chemicals in pool water can result in dry, cracked skin. It can be even worse for those with sensitive skin or eczema, but even swimmers with healthy skin should take steps to protect and nourish their skin in and out of the water,” explains cosmetologist Teresa Wilkerson of A Fabulous Tan, the Central Florida distributor of Havana Sun’s line of suncare products.
But other than applying lotion every day, what can you do to heal damaged skin and prevent the symptoms associated with prolonged water and chlorine exposure?
Cold-Weather Skincare Tips
- A quick freshwater rinse before getting in the pool minimizes the amount of chlorine your skin absorbs in the pool.
- Some products, when applied before getting in the water, help protect your skin. For example, some waterproof sunscreens contain oils that form a protective barrier. Remember—even though it’s wintertime, you still need to take precautions against the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. If you’re swimming competitively, confirm ahead that use of these products is allowed.
- After leaving the pool, shower with warm (not hot) water, and make sure your after-swim shower is your only one. Don’t shower in the morning if you know you’re going swimming in the afternoon. Every shower removes more of the protective oils from your skin.
- If you’re at a daylong event or competition, Wilkerson recommends rinsing off in fresh water between events to ensure chlorine doesn’t dry on your skin or hair. If you don’t have an opportunity to shower, wipe yourself down with Summer Solutions Swim Wipes.
- Stick to gentle, moisturizing shower gels when you’re spending a lot of time in the pool, especially if you’re suffering from or prone to dry skin. You don’t need harsh soaps or scrubs because chlorine removes dirt and sweat from your skin.
- Gently towel dry after swimming and showering. Avoid being out in the cold air with wet skin, as this promotes chapping and cracking.
- Moisturize right after showering with an oil-based moisturizer. If the skin on your hands and feet is very dry, apply coconut oil or Vaseline before bed and cover your hands and feet with socks. Vaseline is also good for chaffed or raw areas of skin.
- People are often much more conscious of staying hydrated in the summer, but it’s just as important in the winter. Drink plenty of water to purify your skin, keep it hydrated, and to help flush toxins and chemicals away. There’s no simpler way to prevent dry skin than increasing your daily fluid intake.
- Take a daily multivitamin and consider supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty acids are responsible for maintaining a healthy cell membrane. The cell membrane functions as a protective barrier, a passageway for nutrients, and it gives cells the ability to hold water.
- Between uses, wash your swimsuit in Summer Solutions Suit Solutions. This will not only help your suit last longer, but swimsuits covered with dried chlorine are irritating to the skin.
- Make sure your pool’s chemical balance is correct. High levels of chlorine can do more than damage your skin; they can cause respiratory and other problems, too.
A Fabulous Tan offers quality tanning oils, sunscreens, and other suncare products throughout Orlando and the Central Florida region. The distributor is an enthusiastic supporter of local swimmers, surfers, and other athletes. Visit AFabulousTan.com to learn more about their suncare products and events.