Updated: Jun 19
As an avid swimmer myself, I know firsthand how frequent swimming can cause the skin to become dry and irritated. As a dermatologist, I have years of experience removing skin cancers and precancerous growths from longtime swimmers who did not take the proper preventative measures to protect their skin.
I put together this skincare guide to help my fellow swimmers understand how they can prevent chlorine and sun exposure from damaging their skin.
ALWAYS apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before swimming.
Use an SPF 50 mineral sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide on your face.
Opt for “very water-resistant” sunscreens with a rating of 80 minutes.
Sun protection is the most crucial step you can take to protect your skin. Without sun protection, ultraviolet light (UVA & UVB) can damage your skin and cause wrinkling, hyper-pigmentation, sun spots, and skin cancer.
The effects of UV on the skin are cumulative, so it is never too late to start taking more precautions. Our skin thins as we age, making us more susceptible to sun damage in our later years.
Make a habit of always putting on facial sunscreen before swimming. The ingredients that make the sunscreen water-resistant create a hydrophobic barrier between the skin and water. This barrier protects your skin from pool chemicals and other irritants that cause dry skin.
I recommend Dermasport's SPF 50 Facial Sunscreen as the best water-resistant sunscreen for swimmers.
Use a gentle cleanser to remove chlorine and sunscreen residue from your skin after swimming.
Avoid soaps and cleansers that can strip away your skin’s protective layers and make you more susceptible to sunburns.
Opt for a pH-balanced cleanser to help maintain your skin’s normal barrier function.
Your skin has a protective layer of naturally occurring oils that protect you from unwanted substances. Pool chemicals, such as chlorine, can strip away these oils and break down your skin’s natural barrier protection, leading to dryness and irritation.
Your skin’s natural pH balance can also be adversely affected by prolonged exposure to these pool chemicals, leading to further dryness and irritation.
After swimming, your skin will need to recover. The first step towards a successful recovery is the removal of chemical irritants with a cleanser suitable for sensitive skin, like Dermasport's Gentle Facial Cleanser.
After cleansing, use a moisturizer with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and botanicals such as aloe to soothe and hydrate the skin naturally.
Moisturize daily, even when you are not swimming, to get the best results.
A good facial moisturizer will help rehydrate your skin and repair its natural barrier function, which is critical for moisture retention.
Our skin thins as we get older and makes us more susceptible to damage from chlorine and other pool chemicals. Well-hydrated skin offers the best protection against these chemicals drying out your skin. As an added bonus to your post-swim routine, you can use an eye treatment product like Dermasport's RENEW Eye Cream to help reduce the appearance of dark circles and goggle marks.
If you are going to be a regular swimmer for many years you want to make sure that it does not become an unhealthy activity. Following these tips should help keep you in the pool and out of my office.
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“Sunscreen FAQs.” American Academy of Dermatology, Accessed June 2022