My skin hurts when I run outside in the cold, so I asked a derm what to do


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Photo: Getty Images/ dusanpetkovic

At this point, I’ve got the whole staying-warm-during-outdoor-winter-runs thing down to an art form. Fleece running tights? Check. A heat-bonded jacket? Check. Insulated gloves, socks, and a hat? Check, check, and check. However, while keeping my body warm during sub-zero sprints is a no-brainer, my skin is a totally different story. No matter what I do prior to hitting the pavement, after 30 minutes in the elements my face feels like it might fall right off. So I asked a dermatologist: What should I be putting on my skin before working out in cold weather?

The answer, according to dermatologist Heather Woolery Lloyd, MD and founder of Specific Beauty, is three-fold. “You want a barrier, so a ceramide-based product would be helpful because the wind can strip your skin,” she explains. “The wind against your skin is in a way mechanically removing the top layer, so you want to have a barrier. So ceramides are important because that’s truly what they are: barrier repair.” You’ll want to prevent moisture from leaving your skin by way of transepidermal water loss (which will ultimately dehydrate it), so look for the phrase “barrier repair cream” on your labels for a hint that they’re packed with ceramides.

In addition to this protection from the elements, you’ll also want to look for an ingredient that pulls the moisture from the air to help hydrate your skin. Dr. Woolery suggests hyaluronic acid, which can hold up to 400 times its weight in water, or (rather surprisingly) glycerin, which also helps raise the moisture levels of your skin when applied topically. And even if it’s below freezing and cloudy when you lace up, it’s important (as always) to layer up with sunscreen.

Easy enough, right? All you need are these three products and a pump-up playlist, and you’ll be ready to log your daily miles through springtime.

If you need some running motivation during the cold winter months, here’s why you should be getting in an outdoor jog at least once a week. Stressed about freezing your butt off? Don’t worry—we rounded up all the best winter workout gear to keep you warm.

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