There's a number of ways that Olympians prepare for the Games. They train rigorously, dominate trials, and eat a certain diet. A solid beauty routine probably seems like it wouldn't be a priority for athletes whose end goal is winning a medal. But, especially in the case of winter sports, great hair, makeup, and skin isn't just for aesthetics. When you're facing sub-zero temperatures and harsh winds on the slopes and on the ice, you have a few beauty secrets and tips on how to deal with the different weather conditions.
Ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, we polled US Olympians on their competition day beauty routines and what products they use when they're off the slopes and ice.
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Alexa Scimeca Knierim, 2018 Team USA Pair Skater
When she's getting ready to hit the ice with her partner, husband Chris Knierim, there's two key parts to Alexa's ice-ready look: spray and sparkle.
The skater's hair is heavily pulled, pinned, and sprayed so that it stays out of the way during the pair's routine. "In reality, for a pairs competition the female skater's hair really does need to be tucked away simply from a safety standpoint; anything that would infringe on a line of site, get caught mid-air, or compromise Chris's ability to catch me, has to be removed from the equation," she explains.
In addition to bedazzling all of her costumes herself [that's where the sparkle comes in], Alexa also relies on cosmetics to help her stand out on the ice. The athlete's usual look consists of a matte finish, a bright cheek, and and a strong lipstick. "It's somewhat like stage actors—you want the people in the back row of the theater to be able to see that you have rouge on your cheeks and your lipstick is hot pink," she says. "As such, we wear it heavier for performances, than you might otherwise for a date on Friday night."
Alexa uses her time off the ice to give her hair and skin a break from using heavy hair and makeup products, which she says combined with nerves, can lead to annoying breakouts. "I have very fair complexion, so I wear some form of sunscreen year-round, and I'm also good about doing regular rejuvenating skins masks," she says.
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Elana Meyers Taylor, Olympic Bobsled Silver Medalist
On race days, Taylor starts by flat-ironing her hair with a little bit of a curl at the end. She preps her strands with Pantene Gold Series Hydrating Butter Crème ($7; target.com) and Pantene Gold Series Intense Hydrating Oil ($8; target.com). These products are the athlete's go-tos because they strengthen her hair, which gets damaged and caught in her helmet every time she takes it on and off.
"The reason I get up and do my hair is twofold: First, I believe if you look good, you'll feel good, and perform well," she says. "Doing my hair helps me feel like I look good. Second, doing my hair makes sure my helmet fits correctly. When I wear my hair natural, my bobsled helmet fits differently than when I wear it flat ironed. I flat iron it to get a consistent fit."
When she's not competed, Taylor still relies on the Hydrating Oil because it makes her hair feel soft, without being oily.
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Michelle Kwan, Two-Time Olympic Figure Skating Medalist
As Vera Wang, the designer who made most of Kwan’s costumes said, “It’s all in the eyes.” When the Olympian was on the ice, she would she would never leave home without eyeliner. "I would always use waterproof eyeliner and mascara because you’re skating fast and would get teary-eyed," she says.
The Olympian loves products and being able to feel and look good so she always had fun with her makeup routine. "I think I was one of the first athletes to glue on crystals," Kwan told us. "I would basically glue the crystals on my eyes—this was back in ’96. I didn’t have the help of a hair or makeup artist, I did it all myself. It was part of getting into the zone and the performance."
When she wasn't competing, Kwan still reached for the eyeliner. She told us that she would dramatically draw it on even when she was training and no one else was at the rink.
Oksana Masters, Three-Time Paralympic Rower and Cross-Country Skier
"On race days I will use Pantene Sheer Volume Shampoo ($4; target.com) and Pantene Sheer Volume Conditioner ($4; target.com) followed up with Batiste Dry Shampoo ($6; target.com) before I French braid my hair," she tells us. "The mix between Pantene Sheer Volume Shampoo and the dry shampoo helps give my hair body and texture for when I French braid my hair for races."
"I wash my face with Olay Gentle Clean Foaming Cleanser for Sensitive Skin ($5; target.com) and then follow it up with the Olay Total Effects Tone Correcting CC Cream ($19; target.com) that has SPF 15 in it for a base foundation, followed by MAC Studio Fix Powder Foundation ($29; nordstrom.com) for a fuller coverage and COVERGIRL mascara ($7; target.com)," Masters says. "I like to keep my hair and makeup routines easy and simple on race days."
On the odd day that Masters isn't training, her hair and skincare routine isn't all that different. She uses the same Pantene shampoo and conditioner and Olay cleanser, but she likes to follow that up with Olay's Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream ($24; target.com), a fragrance-free formula that's great for her sensitive skin.
She does switch things up a little bit with her makeup. On days off, Masters goes for a little more coverage. Along with COVERGIRL mascara, some of her favorite products are MAC Studio Fix Liquid Foundation with SPF 15 ($29; nordstrom.com), Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder ($38; sephora.com), MILK Makeup's Lip + Cheek stick ($24; sephora.com), and Anastasia Beverly Hills' brow pencil ($21; sephora.com).
To learn more, visit teamusa.org. The Winter Olympics are live Feb 8.