When track and field star Allyson Felix competes in the Tokyo Olympics this summer, she will achieve a shocking new distinction, even for an athlete with six Olympic gold medals. Felix is only 35, but this summer she will have been competing in Olympic Games for half of her life, having started at 18 at the 2004 Athens games.
Felix is a living legend. She is one of the most decorated athletes in the world. And she has achieved that distinction under the relentless critical gaze of close-up cameras that broadcast to the entire world for almost two decades. Every one of her most intense workdays has been our entertainment. And as a woman athlete, she has never been allowed to forget that her appearance, too, is being judged.
“I remember my first Olympics being a teenager, I had much thinner skin then,” she tells Glamour. “As an athlete—especially as a female athlete—there’s this idea of not only having to be great at what you do but there’s also needing to be pretty.” For Felix, whose work requires a tactician’s brilliance as well as immense physical power, this brings up a lot of pointed questions: Whose idea of “pretty”? And what does that mean for women of color?
“As I’ve grown and had more experiences, I’ve been more comfortable in my own skin, more unapologetic of who I am and what I look like,” she says. Unapologetic, as with any word used to describe Felix, only undersells her. In 2019 she wrote a powerful essay, exposing the financial loss she faced from her sponsor Nike when she became a mother.
The public outcry that followed was so profound that, thanks to Felix as well as fellow runners Alysia Montaño and Kara Goucher, Nike changed its policy. In addition to her tremendous athletic success, Felix became synonymous with exposing pregnancy discrimination. Felix—a world-famous nine-time Olympic medalist—felt pressured to hurry up and return to work. She was essentially punished for bearing a child. In sharing her story, she stood up for every mother and future mother in the country.
This summer will be Felix’s first Olympic Games as a mother. She may break new records. And she’ll be appearing in the newest iteration of the iconic P&G mom ads (the company is one of her sponsors). The way she’ll look when she does it shouldn’t matter. But skin care isn’t just about surfaces, Felix points out. “I do work in the sun and outside every single day, so I have prioritize it to be healthy,” she says. “I keep things really basic, but I spend so much time in the sun and sweating, so I’m making sure that I’m cleansing my skin, and keeping it moisturized and making sure I have SPF on.”
This month Felix announced her new lifestyle brand, Saysh. Her goal is that women athletes won’t have to depend on the whims of giant corporations for athletic sponsorships. Eventually they’ll be backed by brands like Saysh.
And now that she’s a new mom, self-care has taken on a brand-new dimension for Felix. We all know that washing your face at night after wearing makeup is important. And we all know that it’s an annoying chore. Maybe this is dumb, but we had to ask: Does the same sheer willpower that makes Felix again and again an Olympic champion translate, at all, to making herself wash her face?
“There’s no connection there,” she says with a laugh. “The discipline goes out the window after a long day.”
Here is Allyson Felix’s quick, simple, safe skin-care routine, in a new installment of Glamour‘s Drop the Routine.
My sun protection
It kind of changes, depending on what the weather is like and what climate I’m in and all of those things, but I at least like SPF 50 on my face. That’s what is in my moisturizer—it’s a great way for me not to forget. I change between some different things, but I like the basic Cetaphil. For my body I don’t have a particular brand, but I bump it up a little bit to SPF 70.
Cetaphil Facial Moisturizer SPF 50+
At night I start with cleansing my skin. It’s very basic—there’s not much to it. I use the Cetaphil cleanser. During the day, if I wear makeup to compete, I usually just do a tinted moisturizer; right now I’m enjoying one from Nars. I might fill in my brows with a Benefit product, or do some basic things, like maybe a gloss. I try to keep it really simple and natural.
Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser
My night cream
I’m enjoying Honest Beauty; they have some things that are a little bit heavier. They have a night cream that I’ll sometimes do, and they have a toner that I’ve used. I like to mix it up.
Honest Beauty Calm & Heal Melting Balm
$33.00, Honest Beauty
I follow up with moisturizer, also from Cetaphil. I’m also making sure that I’m drinking a lot of water; obviously, being an athlete, trying to hydrate is important. And I really like the Kiehl’s whipped butter; that’s something I love for all over my body.
Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion
Kiehl’s Since 1851 Creme de Corps Body Moisturizer
$14.00, Kiehl’s Since 1851
Jenny Singer is a staff writer for Glamour. You can follow her on Twitter.
Originally Appeared on Glamour