We asked you--Women's Running readers--for the beauty dilemmas you face while maintaining a full schedule of work, family and friends, and running. Our experts answer your most common questions and offer practical advice to help keep your skin, hair and feet healthy.
I run all the time and consider myself in great shape. Why do I still have cellulite?
"Cellulite has nothing to do with the state of fitness or one's weight," says Dr. Charles E. Crutchfield III, medical director of Crutchfield Dermatology and adjunct clinical associate professor of dermatology at the University of Minnesota Medical School.
"Cellulite is genetically based. It's a normal, anatomic variation in the skin. Fibrous bands keep the skin together and can pull more tightly in some areas, causing a dimpling effect. These fibrous cords that hold the skin together are normal," he says. "In fact, studies have shown that more than 90 percent of all women have cellulite."
While there's no cure, topical treatments can mask the appearance of cellulite temporarily. Murad Firm & Tone Serum ($77, murad.com) contains cayenne pepper to help improve circulation and the herb cat's claw to reduce the appearance of dimples. Self-tanner is also a good smokescreen for cellulite. Paraben-free Fake Bake Sunless & Skinny ($22, fakebake.com) contains copper mineral and sea kelp to firm and tone skin while gradually bronzing.
I'm in my late 30s and I still get acne. Help! What can I do to treat and prevent breakouts?
You're not alone. Seventeen million American adults suffer from acne. In fact, according to a Harris Interactive Survey, about half of all the acne patients seen by dermatologists in 2008 were adults. Acne is not an adolescent phenomenon; it's hormonal. Any fluctuations in hormone levels can cause a breakout. And when you're stressed, your skin is more prone to inflammation and therefore acne, says dermatologist Richard Fried, M.D., and author of Healing Adult Acne.
Dried sweat and bacteria, particularly after a workout, can clog pores, so be sure to wash your face and body as soon as you can post-exercise. Use Pond's Exfoliating Clean Sweep Cucumber Towelettes ($7, drugstores) to remove dirt, sweat and grime. Also, wear wicking, quick-dry clothing to prevent body acne and take a shower post-run as soon as possible.
If pimples persist, try over-the counter or prescription products with retinoids. "Topical retinoids should be at the center of acne treatment," Fried says. Keep in mind, OTC topical retinoids are alcohol-based and can be drying and irritating, particularly when you first use them. Fried recommends water-based Atralin Gel (available by prescription), which is less harsh and has collagen, glycerin and hyaluronic acid, an anti-aging bonus.
Be sure to look for the word "noncomedogenic" on the label of your sunscreen, moisturizing lotion and makeup. Noncomedogenic products are less likely to cause blackheads or whiteheads. However, no single product is perfectly noncomedogenic for everyone. Be sure to test products and discontinue use if irritation occurs.
I'm a distance runner, and my skin seems to be aging faster than I am! What can I do to slow the signs of deterioration and aging?
"Aging is part genetic and part environmental," says dermatologist Francesca Fusco, assistant clinical professor at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. Runners are often exposed to high levels of ultraviolet sun rays, which are a major cause of skin damage like wrinkles and sunspots.
"A broad-spectrum sunscreen properly applied and reapplied is key in diminishing the UVB and UVA damage that causes the breakdown of collagen and elastic fibers, and causes lines, wrinkles, and rough and uneven pigmentation," says Fusco.