Runner’s Face: Everything You Need To Know

Is there anything you notice when you look at an athlete’s face? Maybe a long, narrow face? Or perhaps a gaunt figure? That is what most dermatologists refer to as a runner’s face.

According to the theory, the running motion up and down repeatedly pulls the face into that shape. As a result, the overall appearance is similar to that of an aging person. Our skin sags as we grow older, and we lose all the chubbiness we had as children.

For instance, take a look at a toddler right now. They most likely have fleshy, thick cheeks. However, as they get older, they lose their plumpness. As they progress into their golden years, the cheeks disappear entirely, and the face remains narrow, with the extra skin on the cheeks dropping.

Indeed, you now have a rough idea of the runner’s face, but let me elaborate further in the definition below.

Definition of the Runner’s Face

The most notable feature on a runner’s face is sagging skin. Then there is the skeletal and wrinkled appearance that results from the loss of fat on the face. So much so, a runner appears a decade older than they are.

This gets you wondering, isn’t running meant to make you look younger, so why is your face looking the opposite?

Well, this topic has been on the table in numerous dermatological discussions. Other dermatologists say that it is an urban myth, while others say it is real and that they can fix it.

So who do we believe?

This article will dig a little deeper, looking at all possible causes of the condition. Who you support will entirely be up to you.

Is Running The Main Cause Of A Runner’s Face?

By the name ‘runner’s face,’ the answer would definitely be a yes.

But I do not want to stop at that. I want to uncover all possibilities that could lead to a runner’s face.

So here are some of the insightful findings on runner’s faces.

Doctors against the idea that a runner’s face results from running

One certified plastic surgeon called Dr. Kiya Movassaghi, an enthusiastic triathlete, stands by the fact that you do not get a runner’s face from running. He points out that this results from a combination of having a lean body plus experiencing long-term sun exposure.

He also points out that this gaunt facial appearance goes beyond runners. Skiers, sailors, tennis players, cyclists, footballers, and even slim gardeners have the same impression on their faces.

The main cause of the runner’s face is the skin’s loss of elasticity and volume, which happens to everyone at some point in their lives. The skin naturally starts to produce less collagen and elastin, which is also a factor. Additionally, with continued exposure to the sun’s UV rays, this process is quicker.

Doctors for the idea that runner’s face as a result of running

On the other side of things, one Dr. Rachel Nazarian of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York attest that there are studies that prove that extreme and intense workouts could cause harmful effects to the skin.

And this is due to the increased production of free radicals, in other words, oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a disturbance in the balance amid the generation of free radicals and antioxidant barriers.

Our bodies are machines that start producing free radicals wherever there is pressure or strain typical during exercising. For the body to retaliate against the effects of these free radicals, it employs the antioxidants in the body. The source of these antioxidants is either from within the body or from the diet we consume.

Now here is the exciting part:

When this oxidative stress is on the skin, it causes similar signs of aging since collagen and elastin break down. The result is sagging skin; also the runner’s face.

According to Dr. Nazarian, these effects may subside if the athlete is under a healthy diet full of antioxidants. This way, the skin’s collagen, and elastin remain intact, holding the skin in place.

Other possible causes of runner’s face

While we have already established oxidative stress as one of the causes of runner’s faces, it is not the only cause.

Two more culprits that may cause you to get a runner’s face are extensive exposure to the sun and air pollution. Air pollution is an initiator of oxidative stress. When it comes to sun exposure, the sun’s damaging radiation rays result in the skin gaining uneven pigmentation.

But that is not all; these rays also cause thickened skin, volume loss, wrinkles, and in extreme conditions, skin cancer.

These causes hold more reason as per the myth that the bouncing motion idea. And many dermatologists agree. Most actually attest that exercise is a beneficial addition to a healthy lifestyle, and it has excellent effects on the skin.

For instance, cardio helps with improving blood circulation all over the body. An increased supply of blood means an increase in the supply of oxygen and nutrients. Thus, the skin gets replenished to repair all the dead cells and increase collagen production.

Ways to Protect Your Skin To Avoid Runner’s Face

Indeed, we cannot stop growing old, but we can try to slow down how it manifests on our skin. So this is how you can slow down the runner’s face effect:

Use sunscreen

If you are an outside runner, your skin will thank you when you constantly use sunscreen. You should select a sunscreen with the appropriate SPF according to the area you live in, preferably SPF 30 and above if you live in a hot place.

The sunscreen creates a layer over your skin that reflects off the harmful sun radiation beams.

Always moisturize

When you run, you sweat; and this sweat could wash away any moisturizing factor to your skin. More so, after exercising, ensure that you apply a layer of moisturizer.

Ideally, use an anti-aging kind that will offer the skin a healthy supply of hydration to stay plump.

Protect your face as you run

While you run, you should wear a hat or sun visor to protect your face from harsh sunlight. This is simply creating an extra protective layer.

Cleanse your skin

Skin cleansing is mandatory as it removes all the buildup of dead cells, dirt, and oils.

Additionally, cleaning your skin improves blood circulation, which enhances collagen production. Skin cleansers allow the skin also to breathe better since the pores open up.

Use skin serums

Nutrition is not the only source of antioxidants you can use; skin serums are also a potent source. Vitamin C skin serum is the best for rejuvenating the skin and keeping it healthy and nourished with a good supply of antioxidants.

Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water

Water is essential to any runner. It cools down your body and also plays a big part in keeping your skin healthy. In this case, it helps keep the skin plump and elastic wading off the runner’s face.

Eat a healthy diet rich in antioxidants

As aforementioned, when it comes to oxidation stress, you need an ample supply of antioxidants. When you eat a healthy collection of foods rich in antioxidants, you will not sabotage the skin’s elastin and collagen.

It would be best if you ate plenty of fleshy green vegetables, fruits, and nuts.

Reduce your sugar intake

Some of the sports energy drinks athletes consume have too much sugar that is not healthy for your skin. High sugar intake could contribute to premature aging of the skin. When in excess, the protein molecules cross-link with the sugar molecule, resulting in the advanced glycation end products.

This then affects the collagen and elastin in the skin. The higher the sugar level in your body, the faster collagen breaks down, leading to more rapid aging.

All these skincare routines should be a daily habit that runners and other athletes must follow.

Facts about Runners Face

Now that you have most of the information about the runner’s face, I would like to give you a few extra facts on the runners’ faces.

  1. Runners’ face tends to affect people who are past or in their forties. The effects are more predominant and evident. Younger runners show fewer wrinkles and sagging because their skins are still young and produce collagen and elastin optimally.
  2. Sun exposure is a culprit because it breaks down the skin’s fibers, resulting in a worn appearance.
  3. Running is not the only cause of runners’ face—strenuous workout routines can also affect the same effect.
  4. When you lose weight excessively, the extra skin on the face could also result in a runner’s face. This is because all the fat that was underneath the skin has melted away, leaving the extra skin sagging.
  5. When your skin is dry, the wrinkles appear more pronounced.

What to Do If You Already Have a Runner’s Face

I know that I have highlighted ways to avoid getting a runner’s face up to this point, but what if you already have one? What should you do?

Skincare routines

One way to deal with a runner’s face is to use a cleanser, moisturizer, and serum to keep your skin healthy and elastic. And that is in addition to a healthy diet and lots of water.

Injectable fillers

The other way to help you can reverse these effects is by using dermal fillers. Also called injectable fillers, soft tissue fillers are injected into the skin at various depths to make wrinkles disappear. These injections add volume to the face and restore the skin’s smoother feel counteracting the runner’s face effects.

These fillers are usually temporary because the body absorbs them over time. This means that a person who opts to use this route must have periodic plastic surgeon visits to ensure a retouch.

The most effective dermal filler is the Ellanse dermal filler.

The Ellanse is FDA and MHRA approved, and it works by smoothening the face lines and folds. It also stimulates the skin to produce its collagen for a more long-term effect. This kind of filler shows an immediate result, but with continual use, the skin looks better. The collagen made in the process can stay effective for up to four years.

Possible side effects of Ellanse

Just like any other filler injections, people who use it for a runner’s face might still suffer through a couple of side effects. Some of those effects are :

  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Soreness

These effects are on the mild side that always fades away a few minutes after the procedure.

Places doctors inject the Ellanse

Doctors can inject this collagen production stimulator on multiple face areas to give volume and stimulate collagen production for a less wrinkly face. Here is a list of all the sites a person with a runner’s face can get an injection of Ellanse:

  • The temples and brows
  • The forehead
  • The cheeks
  • The lower face
  • The nose
  • The jawline
  • The nasolabial folds

Bottom Line

If you are a runner, now you can relax, a runner’s face is preventable, but aging is not! When the time comes that your age, embrace it. However, it is not your running that has caused it.

Nonetheless, now you know what a runner’s face is, how it happens, and how to prevent it. And even if you have already succumbed to the facial folds and wrinkles, you still have two options— skin routine or get fillers. The fillers options seem to be the most helpful.

But here is the catch:

If you go with the Ellanse filler option to reverse your runner’s face, ensure that you get a certified plastic surgeon to administer the injections. Also, be aware of the side effects before jumping the broom. Growing old is part of life, but if you can have healthier and younger skin, why not!

Even so, keep the face care routine; it does help too!

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