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Matthew Ankeny Wants You to Take Care of Your Skin

Interview by Brad Roe, Images by Brian Vernor

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We meticulously take care of our bikes, make sure we train right, get the proper nutrition and enough sleep, but many cyclists overlook recovery for their largest organ: skin. With his new company West Skincare, Matthew Ankeny wants to change that. We caught up with him for a few questions about skincare. 

PELOTON: Why did you start West Skincare? 

Matthew Ankeny: I believe in living fully and recovering responsibly. Intelligent rest is a part of every activity. Cyclists tend to do a good job of taking care of their legs and their bikes post-ride, but their skin, not so much. I think that’s something that needs to change. I didn’t want West Skincare to be another glossy cosmetics brand — I want to engage with active people on their level and offer products that very concretely help improve their skin health. I think speaking the language is important. And efficacious formulas that work are important. Hopefully we can have cyclists cleaning their skin even more religiously than they clean their bikes.

PELOTON: Do cyclists need to take better care of their skin pre-and-post ride? 

MA: Definitely. And I was complicit in this for years. I didn’t think about my skin, which is insane. A good ride leaves you dehydrated, wind-burnt, sun-exposed and covered in environmental debris. The face is fully exposed during a ride. It’s crazy to not help it recover. Pre-ride, deep hydration is key. A moisturizer with sodium hyaluronate — which is a smaller version of hyaluronic acid — goes deep into the skin to retain moisture. Then, always apply sunscreen — a broad spectrum SPF 50. Apply it when you kit up, so it can settle for a few minutes. Post-ride, we’re in recovery mode. I love our Scrub, which is a hybrid exfoliant — manual to clear off the debris and enzymes to clear out the skin cells. When your skin is dehydrated and sun-exposed, it creates excess oil (sebum) to fight that stress. So re-balancing the skin post-ride is key. Then, apply a rich mask and a recovery cream with nutrients and hydrating elements to help skin cells rebuild and retain water. Next day, your skin will be ready to ride again.

PELOTON: We are recent converts to your products and we need to know what is in the Recovery Cream? 

MA: It’s magic. So, the Recovery Cream supplies loads of hydration and also stimulates lipids in the skin. Lipids are fats and they build up the skin cell walls. A sturdy lipid barrier retains water better and leads to firmer, smoother skin. It’s also a nice, thick barrier cream, so it helps prevent water evaporation while soothing irritated skin. Put it on after a big ride and overnight. You’ll wake up a younger person.

PELOTON: Walk us through a daily skincare routine and what benefits we will see immediately? 

MA: The baseline is cleanse, moisturize, SPF (during daylight hours). It’s like brushing your teeth. If you’re not doing that, you’re simply neglecting your skin. Morning, evening and post-sweat, use a properly formulated cleanser and a moisturizer with nutrients to “feed” the skin. In the morning, that’s all I do, plus SPF. After a workout or in the evening, I use more robust formulas. I like to exfoliate every other night and I apply a mask once or twice a week — usually after I shave. Shaving is like mini-microdermabrasion, so your skin is nice and fresh. Give it something to drink up. A full night routine would be: scrub, cleanse, mask, recovery cream. That thick cream overnight works wonders.

As for benefits, your skin will feel soft to the touch (not dry or oily), the appearance will be smoother, pores smaller and the tone will be more even. I have a thick beard and now I rarely get razor burn. That’s a nice perk. If you’re starting out, part of the education is thinking about and looking at your skin. Know what dry or oily skin feels like for you. Know what redness and irritation looks like. And then you’ll be able to see the difference. It becomes apparent quickly and the results are quite satisfying — both short-term and long-term.

PELOTON: Should skincare be part of a cyclists recovery process? 

MA: Absolutely. The skin is our largest organ and it’s really good at being resilient and adapting. But when the skin is irritated — dry, oily, red, sensitive — it is fighting and it’s stressed. And that stress adds up over time. The faster we can restore the skin to a balanced state, the happier and healthier it is. Don’t let the skin suffer after a ride. Give it hydration and nutrients, just like you do for your body. Food and water, the skin needs them, too. And it feels good. We all know that stinging, wind-burnt feeling after a ride. It’s not a mandatory part of cycling. These products save you from that, plus you’re doing the good, long-term work for your skin’s health.

PELOTON: What is the easiest way for cyclists to try West products? 

MA: You can order direct from our website. We offer free shipping and we include a soft facial cloth in all shipments. We are also planning to have face wash stations at gravel events — like the fantastic Gravel Mob. So you can ride hard, then wash your face. That’s what it’s all about.