Olympic Athlete-Approved Hair and Skincare Tips

by Ilyssa Panitz

Natalie Coughlin trains in the pool for up to four hours a day, which not only has earned her an impressive 12 Olympic medals, but also tried-and-true ways of combating the effects of chlorine on her hair and skin. As the champion enjoyed a blow-out and makeover at the hands of the stylists of theP&G Family Home, DivineCaroline  grilled the swimmer on her beauty and workout routine–and oh, what it’s like to be one the top athletes in the world.

DivineCaroline: This must be such a treat for you to sit here and get all glammed up?
Natalie Coughlin: This is awesome for me. I have so much hair and I am constantly in the pool. When I do get to do my hair it out takes so much effort. Now, I get to leave it to the experts and let them take over. I confess it is nice for a change.


DC: I love your sexy look. Is that what you were going for?
NC: I wanted to have some movement in my hair and I love the look of flowy curls at the bottom. I love the natural look on my eyes because it really enhances my blue eyes.


DC: What was your reaction when you saw yourself in the mirror?
NC: I loved it. It is such a good look for me. It is a better version of what I look like on a day to day basis.


DC: When you prepare for a big race do you wear any type of waterproof make-up in the pool?
NC: Some people wear mascara. I on the other hand don’t wear anything. I don’t bother, especially when I am competing. If anything I make sure my eye brows are well groomed and my skin looks good.


DC: What do you use on your skin to keep it from drying out from all of the chlorine?
NC: I dry brush at night. I take a bristle brush to exfoliate my skin. I also use Oil of Olay on my face every day.


DC: What do you use on your hair to keep it getting dry, brittle and dull?
NC: It starts with a good diet. If you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables it shows on your hair, skin and nails. However for my daily routine I use Pantene Daily Moister Renewal. It is a great light weight shampoo because the 2-in-1 dual action formula really cleanses and conditions my hair from all of that chlorine. I also condition my hair and use a wide tooth comb to comb in the conditioner. Then I let it sit for a few minutes. After I get out of the shower I use a leave in product like Daily Moister Whip. Not only does it smell good but it makes my hair feel great because it is more of a treatment to help take away the frizz.


DC: You talk about diet, which consists of?
NC: Every athlete is different. For me I tend to stick to a vegetarian diet. I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables.


DC: What’s your guilty pleasure?
NC: A hotdog. When I am at football game I pile on the relish and onions. It is so good.


DC: When you are training for a completion such as The Olympics, do you count calories?
NC: No because that makes you too obsessed. It forces you to not pay attention as to what your body needs. I fill my plate with as many greens as I possibly can.


DC: What’s behind the nail trend?
NC: (laughs) I made all the girls do the Sephora stickers with me. They are great and stay on for two weeks. It’s fun to wear.


DC: Do you have a regular ritual before a big meet?
NC: I have a routine. I have done the same Pilates, stretching routine for the past eight years. It gets me in the right mind frame to compete.


DC: What is your exercise routine when you are training for something like the Olympics?
NC: It always changes. But at least for four to six hours a day I do a combination of swimming, Pilates, weight training, circuit training and running.


DC: You have been to the Olympics before. Is it the same old, same old or are you still in awe?
NC: I love it. This has been a really enjoyable Olympics for me. London has put on such a fantastic show and they made it easy to get from place to place. The tube is so cool. The Olympic Village is such a magical place and the people watching at the cafeteria there is so amazing. I don’t know where to look first.


DC: Has anyone left you star struck?
NC: We saw Usain Bolt and that was cool. I can’t say I was star struck but what amazing to see was the entourage he travels with. He came in and all of the other Jamaican athletes started clapping. I thought by the thunderous applause The Prince walked in.


DC: I know you didn’t win any medals this time around but you do represent The United States of America at the Olympic Games. What does that mean to you?
NC: That is so special you have no idea. I have wanted to go to The Olympics since I was six years old. I remember watching them in 1988 and saying I want to one day get there. I have been so fortunate to say I went to three Olympics, swim in 12-events and get 12-medals. That is something I am extremely proud of.


DC: How do you stay so calm under the pressure?
NC: When you step out on that deck it is terrifying. There are millions of people watching, your family, your team mates, it is so overwhelming. But once that gun goes off you just zone out and race. Your years of training just take over and your forget everything else around you.


DC: What will be the greatest memory you take away from the 2012 Games?
NC: I have never done a closing ceremony. This time I am going to participate so I am really excited about that.


DC: Where are these 12-medals?
NC: I keep them in a safe. I used to keep them in my sock drawer but my father wasn’t happy so I had to move them.


DC: How do you and your husband cope being away from each other for long stretches of time?
NC: My husband and I dated when we were in college. He went to UC Santa Barbara and I went to UC Berkley. We are used to the distance and this is nothing new. Facetime and Skype help a lot.


DC: Have you thought about your next chapter in your story after you decide to leave swimming?
NC: I love to garden.