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Alix Klineman might not be a dermatologist, but she knows a thing or two about protecting her skin: As a leading beach volleyball player who will be competing for team USA at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics, Klineman spends a lot of time in the sun and sand. The pro athlete, who stands at 6’5”, had been an indoor volleyball player from eight to 26 before she transitioned to beach volleyball. “I had such baby skin; my skin was so young and not damaged. [At first] I was just like, ‘Oh, this is fine. I'm getting a little tan,’” says Klineman of her skin-care journey. “I've kind of learned the hard way because now I do notice that I have some hyperpigmentation and a little bit of melasma,” she adds. “Now, I’m like ‘I need to take care of it and do everything I can to protect it.’”
On an average day of practice, Klineman spends two to three hours on the sand, which leads to cumulative sun exposure. All that time under the rays has motivated her to find the best possible formulas for her needs. “I have a different sunscreen for different situations, but I’ve tested so many and I feel like I really know which ones are the best,” she says. “I feel like I've hacked the whole sunscreen industry.” She counts Eir’s Surf Mud Pro balm as a major go-to. “It’s my favorite because it is so heavy duty,” says Klineman, who requires a protective layer that will last through a 90-minute game. “It’s not realistic for us to reapply while we are playing. At that point, we have sweat and sand on us and we aren’t blank canvas anymore.”
Of course, it’s not only sunscreen that Klineman is taking into consideration as she gears up for the Olympics. There’s other skincare —like how to actually get the sunscreen off (she prefers oil-based cleansers)—as well as her focus on mindfulness.
Here, Klineman shares more about how she stays centered as she trains for sports’ biggest event, from diligent skincare to listening to Drake before she spikes the ball.
1. There’s No Question When it Comes to Sunscreen
I have a lot of different sunscreens for all these different situations. Eir is heavy-duty and it's almost like you draw it on. I'm a heavy sweater, so this is the only one that I've found that will actually stay. Then I have a clear Shiseido one, which I really like because it's super easy to apply and is perfect if you haven’t makeup on. Then there is Tizo that I really like. If I'm not playing volleyball, I like to put this as my base and then build makeup on top of it. It's tinted and it's SPF 40. Those are kind of my three go-tos [for the face].
$30.00, EIR NYC
Then for my body, my favorite is Sun Bum because there's a lot of zinc in it. It's really white, but that's usually the whiter the sunscreen, the better it protects you, which is what I've learned. It’s a spray which is really convenient for your body when you're trying to, you know, apply a lot of area.
$18.00, SUN BUM
2. Taking Sunscreen Off Is Just as Important as Putting it On
My holy grail face wash is by Marie Veronique. That's another brand that I really love. It's founded by this former chemist so she knows so much about just how your skin operates and the microbiome and your skin barrier and all that. She actually wrote a book called the Acne Answer and I've dealt with hormonal acne, on and off throughout my adult life. This is an oil-based cleanser, which I really like, and I've used oil-based cleansers or even lotions until this brand. This is a really gentle formula but at the same time, it gets everything off of your face. I feel like this is more nourishing and hydrating because of the oil. And I feel like we've always been taught like, ‘Oh, use oil-free if you have oily skin,’ but there’s a lot of science supporting that you actually want to put oils on your skin and that helps regulate the amount of oil that your body and skin produce.
$40.00, MARIE VERONIQUE
$24.00, EIR NYC
3. Make Time for Non-Work Pursuits
I'm somebody that can't really live and breathe volleyball. I need other things in my life to make me happy. I also feel like it's a good backup because there are days where volleyball isn't as fun or I don't play well or something is bugging me about volleyball. When I have other things that bring me joy on the side, that really adds to my overall happiness and the balance in my life. I love cooking, so I always make a point to cook a really elaborate dinner with my boyfriend or my friends or family. I love photography and I love going to the beach. No matter how busy I am or no matter how much I want to win gold in Tokyo I know that I'm actually my best and happiest self if I make time for those things off the court as well.
$45.00, EIR NYC
4. Hydration is Key...With a Little Something Added
When I played indoor volleyball, I never had to worry about [hydration] because you're always in these air-conditioned gyms. When I first switched to beach, my first hot tournament was in Fort Lauderdale and I didn't really worry about drinking water. I drank a normal amount of water but we had a busy day with practice and press. The next day we started the tournament and I have never felt so awful on the court. I barely felt like I could make it to the next point. I felt like my body was shutting down on me and I couldn’t figure it out. Afterward, I was talking with my partner and my coach who are both very experienced and they asked, ‘Did you drink a lot of water yesterday?’ That was the first lesson that I learned and I learned it the hard way.
Now, I drink so much water, especially when I get to a tournament. A big part of that too is having electrolytes. You can drink a lot of water and after a certain point, your body won't absorb it anymore, so the electrolytes actually help you retain the water. A lot of times, I wake up in the morning and I pour some electrolytes into a glass of water and I chug that first thing. I try to carry a Hydroflask around with me all day so that I'm reminded to keep drinking water. When we went to Cancun this spring, we had three tournaments there. It was so hot and I was so worried about being dehydrated. I drank more water than I had ever drunk in my whole life and I didn't have a single blemish. I felt like I just flushed my body out with water.
$45.00, HYDRO FLASK
There’s this one electrolyte called Hydrant and I like it because they use only natural flavors and real sugar and electrolytes. I don't like anything with artificial flavoring for me, or even artificial sweeteners. If I can taste Stevia, I can't do it. I’ll add the lime flavor Hydrant and then sometimes I'll even add a packet of collagen, so then I'm getting 10 grams of protein, electrolytes, and some water.
5. Visualize Success
We always take five minutes to visualize before we go on the court. We'll usually get to the venue, we set up all of our stuff, and we get our bands out to warm up. But before we do any of that, we know we shut our eyes [and visualize]. I put on some music, set a timer for five minutes and I try to visualize myself playing great, being confident, and going through all the motions of things that I know how to do so that when I actually go onto the court. I feel like I’ve seen myself do it, so it gives me a little boost of confidence.
I really like a lot of Drake's old stuff, like Take Care and I love to listen to that album to pregame. I feel like it has a lot of swag and like it gets me in the zone.
Originally Appeared on Vogue