As a tennis or pickleball player, nothing feels better than breaking a sweat over a good game on a sunny, cloudless day. The sun on your face, the cool air on your skin, and a little healthy competition make outdoor sports activities a popular choice to stay fit and have fun.
However, while tennis and pickleball can be great for your physical fitness and mental health, outdoor time can sneak up on your skin. Exposure to UV rays is always a concern for extended time outside—and not all sunscreens are created equal.
Read on for a complete guide on the best skincare for athletes and how to protect yourself on the court from sun exposure.
Understanding Sun Exposure: Assessing the Risks
Any extended time outdoors playing tennis or pickleball comes with the risk of sun damage to your skin. Especially on hot, sunny days, your face, neck, arms, and legs are vulnerable, and it’s easy to forget to apply sunscreen.
What are the risks of sun exposure that make skincare for sports so necessary?
Out on the court, limited or no shade is available, and clothing isn’t always reliable sun protection—especially considering uniform requirements and practicality. Because the effects of sun damage and UV rays are sometimes only visible in the long term, athletes may not consider sun protection a vital part of their skincare routine. But just like training, warming up, cooling down, and hydrating, protecting your skin should be essential to your preparation for the court if you want to maintain healthy skin as an athlete.
Solar Radiation and its Impact on Athletes
A 2022 review found that the duration and timing of sun exposure and extreme training and environmental conditions increase the risk of skin damage. In outdoor athletes especially, sunburn rates are high, as well as markers of skin damage.1
The research shows that long-term sun exposure on outdoor athletes can lead to precancerous lesions, melanoma, and keratinocyte carcinoma (KC).1 According to the same research, sweating can increase the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight, and there’s evidence of high-intensity and endurance exercise impacting immune status and antioxidant capacity negatively as well.1
Therefore, if anyone should be concerned with protective skincare, it’s athletes. But that doesn’t mean you need to hang up your racket for good. Incorporating a quality SPF into your athletic routine can make all the difference when it comes to preventing skin issues down the road.
Choosing the Right Sunscreen: Your First Line of Defense
Sunscreen may be the most apparent protector one can use while playing tennis or pickleball—but with so many choices in the market today, knowing which sunscreen is best for your needs can be a challenge.
Choosing a sunscreen product that’s water and sweat-resistant is vital for athletes, especially considering how sweat can make you more susceptible to burns and skin irritation. If you’ve ever worn sunscreen on your face while exercising, you probably have experienced the unique displeasure of getting it in your eyes.
How can you avoid stinging and burning eyes during the heat of a match while still protecting your skin? The answer is selecting a mineral-based sunscreen rather than a chemical-based one.
Mineral sunscreen benefits people who are active outdoors. It has zinc oxide and titanium dioxide—the only sunscreen ingredients generally recognized as safe and effective by the FDA.2 The additional advantage of mineral sunscreens is that they are safer for those with sensitive skin and are safe to apply on top of makeup and other skin care products.
Top Skincare Tips for Athletes
Knowing how to apply mineral sunscreen to maximize its benefits is key. When choosing which sunscreen and skincare products to implement for tennis and pickleball games, here are some additional tips to keep in mind:
Use a tinted sunscreen – Especially when using mineral sunscreens, sometimes a white film is left behind on the skin from the titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Tinted sunscreen can protect your skin without giving your skin a discolored appearance.
- Reapply often – In most cases, mineral sunscreens must be reapplied more frequently than chemical sunscreens. Make sure to reapply sunscreen roughly every two hours.3 (On the pickleball court, that equates to roughly every 4–6 matches.)4
- Nurture your skin post-game – After exercise, washing away all the sweat and grime from the court is a good idea, as sweating can create a warm and wet environment for bacteria to grow.5 Showering is best for removing the sweat, oils, and germs that build up after a workout, especially if you’re acne-prone. If you’re short on time, you should at least splash your face with water, but ideally wash your face with a gentle cleanser ASAP to prevent sweat and buildup of dirt that can create blackheads. Once you shower, be sure to finish your short and sweet skincare routine with a collagen serum and a facial moisturizer.
For non-comedogenic skincare products that protect athletes against the sun and keep their skin even-toned and healthy, explore CLEARSTEM’s shop today.
Protect Your Skin and Support Your Active Lifestyle with CLEARSTEM
Your time on the court is important to you—and as the largest organ in your body, your skin is important, too. CLEARSTEM’s revolutionary products allow you to protect your skin while looking your best so you can focus on the game.
YOU'RE SUNSHINE is a water and sweat-resistant mineral sunscreen designed to protect all skin types with SPF 50+. Better yet, the sunscreen is scentless and tinted, designed to even out your tone and reduce acne breakouts. For the best in healthy sun protection for athletes, check out our entire CLEARSTEM SPF collection.
For the best in skincare for athletes—from treatments for acne-prone skin to their signature hormonal acne supplement—trust CLEARSTEM to protect and nourish your skin so you can look good on and off the court.
- National Library of Medicine. Photoprotection in Outdoor Sports: A Review of the Literature and Recommendations to Reduce Risk Among Athletes. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8850489/
- Everyday Health. The Difference Between Chemical and Mineral Sunscreen. https://www.everydayhealth.com/skin-beauty/chemical-vs-mineral-sunscreen-whats-difference/
- John Hopkins Medicine. Sunscreen and Your Morning Routine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/sunscreen-and-your-morning-routine
- Pickleball Union. How Long Does a Pickleball Game Last? https://pickleballunion.com/how-long-does-a-pickleball-game-last/
- Everyday Health. 6 Must-Dos for Protecting Your Skin Before and After Working Out. https://www.everydayhealth.com/skin-beauty/skin-care-musts-before-after-your-workout/