Sweat and Skin: Elyse Love, M.D. on Skincare for Active Women

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By Jasmine Nesi

Maintaining a consistent, healthy skincare routine while also keeping up with a regular fitness routine can be tough. As both a dermatologist and a runner, Elyse Love, M.D. understands the challenges of caring for your skin while remaining active.

Dermatology is among the least diverse specialties in medicine—as of 2016, only three percent of dermatologists are Black. It’s not surprising, then, that finding a doctor who understands and can properly treat Black women’s skin can be difficult. It was this challenge that led Dr. Love to pursue dermatology and to specifically aim to help people of color.

Dr. Elyse Love, dermatologist and marathoner. Photo via Elyse Love

Dr. Elyse Love, dermatologist and marathoner. Photo via Elyse Love

“I had bad acne in high school. I had many experiences where I went to dermatologists and felt like we weren’t speaking the same language. I gave up and was convinced this is how it was going to be,” says Dr. Love. “My mom took me to one of two black dermatologists in Birmingham, Alabama and, within a month, my skin was clear.”

“Looking back, I realize the effect acne had on me. I wouldn’t raise my hand in school or put myself out there. Once I realized the difference it made for me having clearer skin, I knew [becoming a dermatologist] was the path I wanted to take,” she says.

Somewhere among the stress starting medical school and the camaraderie of this new environment is where she found running. “A few of my friends were running and encouraged me to join them,” she says. “My thought was, ‘I have no experience but it sounds interesting, so I’ll try it.’”

Years later, Dr. Love is now an accomplished runner and NYC marathon finisher. She’s also currently a resident at The Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at New York University School of Medicine and will graduate in May 2019. Running in the mornings keeps her grounded in during training season, providing routine and relief amid her busy schedule.

“I always train in the morning because my evenings are unpredictable. The mornings before work are my protected time where I show up for myself,” she says.

Dr. Love is all smiles after completing the 2018 NYC Half Marathon. Photo via Elyse Love.

Dr. Love is all smiles after completing the 2018 NYC Half Marathon. Photo via Elyse Love.

“There’s a feeling of accomplishment that I don’t get with other sports. Running teaches me life lessons. It teaches discipline and reminds me not to compare myself to other people, to only focus on myself,” she says. To avoid comparisons during training and races, she likes to remember that although the person next to you may be faster, you don’t know anything about their background and what they did to get there.

When it comes to running, she says, “if I show up and do what I need to do, I will see the results.”

She believes that anyone can be a runner, if they try.  “You can run; it just takes a lot of patience. Google ‘Couch to 5K’, find a plan (like RUNGRL’s 5K Hustle Beginning Training Plan), sign up for a race. Then, be patient with yourself. Put in the time, put in the effort and be humble. Get it done!”

After graduation is the phase where Dr. Love plans to put it all together: skincare, fitness and wellness.  “How we talk about beauty and what we think about beauty,” she says, “really shapes my practice to help [persons with] skin of color. It makes me really excited for this next chapter.”

Dr. Love’s Skincare Tips for Active Women:

Shower immediately after a run or workout.

Dr. Love says: “Get that sweat off of your skin ASAP. At least take off your sweaty clothes. If not, you’re at risk for acne, folliculitis, etc. from the bacteria and other dirt that sits up against your skin.”

Use sun protection on every single run!

Dr. Love says: “Yes, we’re at significantly less risk for skin cancer [than those lacking in melanin], but we are also at risk for hyperpigmentation. You don’t realize how much sun exposure you’re getting while you’re out running, even on a cloudy day.” Read more about sun protection for Black Women and RUNGRL’s favorite sunscreen, Black Girls Sunscreen.

Makeup While Running? Possibly.

Dr. Love says: “In general, whenever someone asks me, ‘Is it ok to workout with makeup on?’, I ask, ‘Has it been okay for you in the past?’ The answer is, if it works for you, it’s fine. However, if you’re fighting acne, you should likely go without on your runs, since makeup can clog pores even more. I recommend a clean face (i.e. no foundation), however, mascara and even lipstick are okay, if you like.”

Follow Dr. Elyse Love’s journey on her blog, Love and the Sky, and on Instagram @elyselovemd.


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Jasmine Nesi

Co-founder and COO