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Interview: Cycling, Sun & Skin Care

body Sep 13, 2020

Whether its splashing water on your face, or applying a myriad of different lotions and potions, most of us have a skincare routine of some kind.

For all the effort that goes in, it’s prudent to consider what products may be most appropriate for when we are out and about adventuring.

We sat down with Randall Cooper, a specialist sports physiotherapist and Founder of Premax Performance Skincare to chat about skincare, cycling, and the difference between men’s and women’s products.

CWRB: To start with the basics - what is the difference between normal sunscreen and sporty sunscreen?

Well there are some differences, but I might go back a step and talk about some of the problems that we had with some athletes and their sunscreen use - and why we developed a very special sports specific sunscreen.

The issue with a lot of high level cyclists in particular, and other athletes, was that they wanted to wear sunscreen - they knew the dangers of sustained exposure to the sun and the skin cancer risk – but they found that when they applied most sunscreens that are on the market, that the cream itself was very greasy and didn't allow the skin to breathe very well.

With that, they felt that it affected their performance so much so that they decided that on race day or serious training days, that they would actually prefer to get burnt than to actually wear the sunscreen.

So wind back 15 years and I thought “well this is a bit of a problem” and we started looking for some solutions.  What we were able to do was put the sunscreen in a very different medium, that doesn't sit on top of the skin like like the oily ones do. This allowed the skin to breathe a lot better and Premax isn’t the only brand that have done this.

That said, if you just go into the supermarket, for instance, and just see some of the big brands that have got ‘sport’ on the packaging, then it will often just be a marketing thing.  Other brands will specifically change the formula of their creams to make sure the skin can breathe while you're exercising.

It sounds crazy that people would choose not to wear sunscreen! What happens to your skin if you don’t?

If you don't wear sunscreen, there's two major problems. The first is very serious, which is that people can get skin cancers. They can range from benign skin cancers up to very bad melanoma.  

Australia, in particular, is known as the skin cancer capital of the world -  partly because of where we are on the planet but also because Australians really enjoy being outside as well.  With that in mind, it's very important that for your long-term health and survival, that you protect yourself from the sun.  It’s not only sunscreen but also it's got to do with your choice of clothing and the fabrics they are made from.

The other thing is that exposure to the sun over a prolonged period of time can also accelerate ageing. This is true particularly for cyclists who are outside with the wind blasting in their face (which most people will enjoy!) but with the exposure to the sun as well as the elements, we find that skin can get a quite weathered look unless it's looked after very well.  

There is a product that rather than being a sunscreen is a weather defence cream. What is it and why would a cyclist use it over sunscreen?

Going back half a step with this – we were dealing with a lot of elite athletes, particularly cyclists and also skiers, and they would say to us:

“We love your sunscreen but when it's 12 degrees or (in the case of the skiers) - when it's minus three and there's absolutely no sun whatsoever, I've got nothing on my face to protect me. I'm getting chapped from the wind my my skin feels red raw at the end of the day.”

They were trying generic moisturisers and creams from the pharmacy or from the from the beauty shop, but they weren’t doing the job. So we worked with them to make something more specific, and put together a formula that is almost like a halfway house between moisturising cream and a barrier cream.

It’s not thick and nasty, or oily or greasy, it's actually quite a luxurious cream in a beautiful type of medium. We do use some oils in there, but essentially it is a very fine but breathable layer over the face to protect your skin from from the cold air and the wind.

If it is a windy, cold but sunny day, you can have both sunscreen and a weather defence cream on at the same time. Just combine the products to give your skin all the protection it needs.

There are a lot of products on the market that have Men’s and Women's versions – but we’re also wary of a pink tax, where the minute it is marketed to women the price goes up.  Can you explain what the difference may be between a women’s and a men’s product?

There is definitely a naughty thing in businesses, and we're not a brand who does this, but for women the cliché is you “pink it and shrink it”. Some brands charge the same price for less product but that's not what we're doing!

The genuine reason there are different products for men and for women is that there are differences in their skin. Men do have thicker skin - it's actually 30% thicker than what a female skin is, and has a higher oil content so the skin little bit more hardy.

In a product like anti chaffing creams, which are more for the runners and triathletes, we do alter the oil content.  We also use different essential oils for men and for women’s products to suit what appeals to them.

Premax Women's Anti Friction Balm Cycling

When it comes to chamois cream there is quite a big difference between the men and the women's versions. It’s not only the amount of oil in there, but in the ladies version we pH balance it to the ladies anatomy rather than to the skin. The acid levels are different so that it's a neutral cream for that region.

So rest assured, in our products and certainly in some other, it's not a marketing spin. With the right brand, the different products is because there is a difference between the required ingredients.  

Back to sunscreen, do you use the same sunscreen for your arms and your legs as well as for your face?

With the sunscreen,  there's really not too many brands that make a different product between the face and the body. For our sunscreen it's just the one product that can be applied anywhere.

There are some very subtle differences between the skin on the face and on your arms and your legs which could potentially play a part, but we don't we don't differentiate in that way.

How often you should reapply sunscreen?  

It’s not a case of whack it on in the morning and then go out for five hours and forget it -  you do need to reapply along the way.  This is where the products label will help.

When a brand has to test their sunscreen, we do have to go through quite a regimented process to have it approved by the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) here in Australia. If there is a claim on the label that says that it's ‘4 hour water resistant’, that means they've tested it.

They put subjects in a spa bath for four hours - they apply the sunscreen before they get in. When they then jump out four hours later, they can see how much UV light gets through the sunscreen.  

It's only if it still stays above the stated claim (ours is SPF 50+ for instance) after four hours in the spa bath, that they can make the claim that it's SPF 50+ and 4 hour water resistant.  

To bring it back to the individual, sweat is essentially water. Yes you're sweating it out and that can make a difference compared to going swimming at the beach for instance, but my suggestion is when people apply it, they need to check the conditions, how much they are sweating, and reapply when they feel they’ve sweat sufficiently. Every couple of hours if you sweat a lot and it’s hot conditions, or every four hours on a cooler day.  

Generally speaking, are these products safe for use with our kids?

The short answer is yes. There's nothing in Premax, or other products in Australia that aren’t quite safe.

Products that come out of Australia have to be approved by the TGA or alternatively we also have a very, very strict standard with cosmetic products, the way that they are manufactured, and also the ingredients. If anything at all is not safe for kids and the other vulnerable group in skin care is pregnant women, we have to declare it and let them know.

For those of us who are in households where we may share these products – is it better for men to use the women’s products or women to use the men’s?

None of our products are priced differently between the men’s and women’s version, but there are companies that do charge more for women's. If that’s the case, then have a look at the ingredients and see if there is any discernible difference. The ingredients listed by the most prevalent at the top, and then it goes down in ascending order so the thing that's on the bottom is the least prevalent raw ingredient. If there’s not a big difference between the men's and the women's versions then I'll just go for the cheaper option.

I think if you're going to share a chamois cream between a male and a female for instance, I would go with the women's version.

The women's version is slightly more acidic as we discussed before but that's slightly higher acidic level of the cream on a guy is not going to cause too much trouble for them at all so always go for the women’s versions.  

Thanks for chatting to us Randall, and there’s certainly some facts in there that will give our community more confidence in their product choices.

Thanks Katey. Something I have thoroughly enjoyed at Premax, and also my journey in skin care, is that women generally are very happy to talk about it and they have tremendous insight into what works and what doesn't.  We're always here, so if the community wants to reach out to me specifically, or to the brand, don't feel shy.

We can help answer any questions or help with any issues with the products and how you’re using them.


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