For all you gym bunnies out there, skincare might get a bit tricky when it comes to sweaty exercising. Working out is definitely good for you, but it might raise some question marks when it comes to looking after your skin. Here is a breakdown of the effects of exercising on your skin and the adjustments you need to make to your daily beauty routine when working out.
The effects of exercise on the skin
An adrenaline- and endorphin-inducing workout can be addictive not just for your physical and mental well-being. These hormones lower stress and can contribute to better skin quality, while cardiovascular exercise (or cardio, as most of us know it) boosts circulation to oxygenate the skin and flush out toxins in the body. It all results in an awe-inspiring healthy glow that can’t ever be faked with makeup alone.
As good as exercise might be for your body overall, there are still some icky and tricky aspects that can end up harming your skin when out of control. Even though they say sweat is just fat crying, let’s not forget that it comes with a selection of sebum and toxins that your body eliminates through the sebaceous glands. These, in turn, harbour an even wider variety of sweat-loving bacteria who can wreak havoc on your skin.
That nice healthy glow might be just a step away from rosacea and acne attacks, influenced by the bacteria and sebum on the skin, increased body temperature and the salt from sweat. Hence the increased need for a stricter skin and body care routine focusing on hygiene and preventing dehydration.
Before/after gym skincare routines
– If you’re an early bird and enjoy a sweat session first thing in the morning, begin by cleansing your face with a gentle formula to remove leftover products, sweat and dead cells from the night before. Follow with a light moisturising cream (or go without, if you like a bare-face feel during your workout).
– After the shower, cleanse your face again (this is when I most love the fresh feel of a foaming cleanser) and follow with your normal skincare routine, addressing any potential acne or redness concerns – calming toners to reduce flare-ups, niacinamide serum and azelaic acid treatments to tackle acne etc.
– If you like to work up a sweat at the end of the day instead, then make sure to start with clean skin. Remove your make-up first and cleanse the whole face – preferably using the double cleansing method with water- and oil-based products. Make-up can result in blocked pores and blackheads, so always spend some time preparing your skin before working out. I personally just prefer a foaming cleanser when I don’t wear foundation – this is when travel-sized packs come in handy! Follow with a light moisturiser – or go bare skin.
– Cleanse the skin again at the end to remove any traces of sweat and bacteria, and follow with your regular night-time routine.
– When exercising outside, make sure to protect your skin against sun exposure even on overcast days. Opt for spray SPFs that you can top up every 30-40 minutes during longer workouts, especially during the summer – a popular choice would be La Roche-Posay Anthelios Face Mist.
– Outdoor workouts also expose your skin to oxidation, so make sure to apply an antioxidant serum if you live in a polluted area (London, anyone?).