Besides the actual act of running, runners enjoy two things: talking about running, and talking about what running has done to their body. Not just the balky knees and shin splints, either. Running has a way of wreaking havoc on skin, too. I know, because as a runner (see?) I’ve re-engineered so much of my skincare, haircare, and plain bodycare to offset the effects of putting in the miles—from the shampoo I use to deep-clean my scalp to the sweat-proof SPF I never forget. That’s to say nothing of the footcare products, either.
If you’re a runner (of any kind), below are the 15 products I’ve discovered that I think are worth plugging into your existing grooming regimen. I don’t expect you to add all of them, but I’m betting you’ll find at least a few that will treat some of the running-induced situations that you’ve dealt with—and keep you happier out on the road, too.
The Grooming Products Every Runner Should Consider
1. Sport SPF for Face and Body
I say it over and over (and so do dermatologists), but it’s forever worth saying again: sunscreen, always, everyday, no matter the weather. Runners, though, need an SPF that won’t wash in the first half-mile. You want a waterproof SPF that is specifically formulated for face and body use, or separate products for each. They will either be approved for 40 or 80 minutes of coverage, the two thresholds allowed by the FDA. Obviously 80 is a surer bet, especially for distance runners. Usually any SPF labeled “sport” means it stays strong through sweating or water (in case you like a rain jog or a triathlete).
The Best Sunscreen for Runners
2. Anti-Chafing Cream
Chafing is friction, and friction—when it comes to skin—is a product of moisture. Sweat, specifically. Hopefully your running clothes have their own anti-chafing and moisture-wicking abilities, but the battle against chub rub and raw nipples needs to be fought at the source. Anti-chafing creams are the answer. I prefer ones with tapioca starch. They leave my hands chalky, so I have to wash them after applying. But it’s an all natural anti-chafe solution for my most sensitive skin, which I appreciate.
The Best Anti-Chafe Cream for Runners
3. Co-wash for Hair
I know this sounds wild, but you don’t need to shampoo your hair after a run—sweat and salt washes out pretty easily with just a rinse. On days when I’m not planning to shampoo, I’ll instead use a conditioner-focused “co-wash”, which will lightly cleanse the scalp and strands while strengthening and softening them. Your hair’s already been soaked through with salty sweat, so save the harsher shampoo for another day.
The Best Co-Wash for Runners
4. Detox Shampoo
Okay, so sometimes that “another day” comes and you have more buildup—from sebum, sweat, dry shampoo, and styling product—than even the best shampoo can handle. Enter the detox shampoo, a power wash for your scalp. Of course, detox shampoos can parch your hair, so use them once a week at most (and every two weeks if it’s too much intensity), and follow with a conditioner.
The Best Detox Shampoo for Runners
5. Oil-Free Moisturizer
When I say to get an “oil-free” moisturizer, it doesn’t necessarily need to be oil-free. You want something lightweight that lets your skin sweat easily. I lean toward airy creams or gels, instead of serums or anything too thick.
The Best Moisturizer for Runners
6. Foot Cream
For runners, calluses are both helpful cushioning and badges of honor, but there’s no need to have gnarly feet. A foot cream keeps your dogs supple and helps soften any unnecessarily big big callouses so they wear down to a more appropriate size.
The Best Foot Cream for Runners
7. Purifying Face Mask
With all of the sweating you’re doing, taking the time every so often to feed your skin a healthy helping of nourishment makes sense. Doubly so if you run in a city, where there’s more pollution in the air—and in your skin. A detoxifying or purifying face mask once a week, ideally with a pore-vacuuming ingredient like clay, is like a direct hit of vitamins and moisture for your mug.
The Best Face Mask for Runners
8. Effective Deodorant
Post-run, it’s possible—probable even—that your pits will keep sweating as your body comes down. Your call if you want an antiperspirant that actually prevents you from sweating, but you’ll at least want a deodorant to mask the musk and minimize moisture. Arrowroot powder is my favorite moisture-wicking ingredient in non-aluminum deodorants, as an all-natural way to shut down bacterial funk and absorb sweat.
The Best Deodorant for Runners
9. Calming Toner
Sweaty skin is stressed-out skin. A witch-hazel-powered toner can help “center” your skin after cleansing, to restore your natural pH levels, plus mitigate irritation and redness.
The Best Toner for Runners
10. Foot Soak
I’d love to tell you to take a bath every day, but that feels like a luxury. At the very least, soak your feet once a week. Epsom salt works for basic muscle relaxing, but a dedicated foot soak will do that and more, soothing skin and nixing foot funk.
The Best Foot Soak for Runners
11. Gentle Cleanser
I don’t like using an intense cleanser right before or after a run, as it tends to lead to red and irritated skin. Plus, if I’m going to wash my face an extra time or two every day, I want to use a gentle cleanser that won’t add any more stress to the skin. I love milky cleansers for this, though anything labeled “gentle” and lacking ingredients like salicylic acid. (But that ingredient comes into play yet, as you’ll read next.)
The Best Gentle Cleanser for Runners
12. Pore-Clearing Serum
Before bed, I like to use a salicylic acid-based serum in order to rinse out the pores (it balances oil production and frees up trapped skin cells and sebum buildup). This ingredient can leave your skin a little reddened (especially in the ideal 2% formulas), hence why I prefer to sleep it off. I also alternate its use with retinol (every other night), since the two ingredients don’t usually play well together. Retinol is a great way to prevent clogged pores in the long haul, too, but I can’t draw as clean a line with that ingredient and running. Salicylic acid is imperative, I feel, and especially if you are prone to acne or have oily skin.
The Best Salicylic Acid Serum for Runners
13. Recovery-Focused Night Cream
Your body repairs itself during sleep, skin included, and shut-eye is when you get the most bang for your buck in terms of skincare products. I like using night creams with a focus on recovery and restoration, so that I wake up with supple, better-fortified skin. It’s possible that you’ll want a heavier cream for dry winter nights or spaces that go hard on the A/C, or a really light cream for sweaty summer nights or humid bedrooms. But the one below is a great middle ground for most people and all skin types.
The Best Night Cream for Runners
14. Lightweight Hair Stylers
The best hair styler for you is between yourself and your barber, to be honest. But I can tell you that anything heavy and sticky will likely sweat its way onto your scalp and down your face as you run. If you’re going to make your hair look good for a run (and I respect the game), try a salt spray or a lightweight—almost liquid-like—styling cream. And go easy. Here are two terrific lightweight stylers.
Two Great Hair Stylers for Runners
Beard balms, hair balms, foot balms—you can balm almost anything. But if I had to choose a most-important balm, it’d be the ones for lips, nails, and knuckles. Put it in before a winter run to lock in moisture. Use it after every run to help the skin recover after a post-run scrubdown. Maybe reapply before bed, too. No one wants knuckles that look like a dried-up lakebed.
The Best Balm for Runners