For many of us, daily exercise is a regular part of our weekly routines. And for some of us, the New Year is the perfect time to start. Wherever you fall in the spectrum, exercise is amazing for your overall health, but it’s important to be mindful of how you care for your skin while working out. Here are a few tips to ensure that your skin gets the TLC it needs before, during and after your workout.
The Prep: Cleansing, Moisturizing & Makeup
There isn’t much you need to do to your skin to prepare for exercise. Especially if you work out in the mornings; it’s perfectly ok to wash your face after working out only. In fact, that’s the most important step in maintaining a healthy complexion as sweat, oil and bacteria have accumulated on the skin at that point.
If you do wash your skin before working out, don’t skip moisturizer. Your skin loses water due to evaporation during exercise which causes the skin to be dehydrated. Dehydration leads to surface lines and premature aging. The use of a lightweight moisturizer will help the skin retain water during this process. If you are working out outside or exposed to any daylight, use a lightweight moisturizer with sunscreen (at least SPF 30).
As part of your body’s excretory system, the skin performs its excretory functions primarily via the sweat glands. As you work out, sweat, salt, excess oil (sebum), and water are excreted out of the body through the sweat glands. If you are wearing a heavier foundation its good practice to cleanse your skin pre-workout with a mild cleanser followed by an alcohol-free toner to prevent any possible blockages in these pores. If sweat and oil cannot be easily excreted, you will likely develop congestion and breakouts in that area. Alternatively, use a mineral powder or a tinted moisturizer. Both should be lightweight, give a bit of coverage and most importantly, protect skin from UV rays if sun exposure is a risk. Lipstick is of course fine to wear and looks fabulous (think Flo Jo, Tina Thompson, Shannon Rowbury and Michelle Carter)!
The Workout: Headbands & Hydration
Headbands are great to keep hair away from the face and even soak up some sweat, but try to avoid wearing headbands directly across the forehead. For oily, acne-prone, or breakout prone skin types, headbands, bandannas and hats worn across the forehead can cause a buildup and backup of perspiration and oil in the pores resulting in bumps or breakouts.Try wearing your headgear further pack in your hairline, not directly across the forehead.
Misting during workouts is not recommended. If you mist your skin with a water-based toner or tonic, you want to be sure to seal the hydrating elements into the skin. If not, the dry air will attract the moisture and water out of your skin leaving it tight, dry and/or dehydrated. It’s also very important to replace the water you lose from perspiration before, during and after workouts. While most research suggests that drinking water is the least efficient way to hydrate the skin, it is very important to your overall health.
Be sure to avoid touching your face during workouts and be diligent about washing hands thoroughly before and after workouts. The last thing you want to do is introduce bacteria to your skin (gym equipment are breeding grounds for bacteria) while working out, potentially resulting in a new or worsening breakout.
The Post: Cleansing, Calming & Moisturizing
This is the most important step! Once you’ve completed your workout, it is important to get out of your sweaty clothes as soon as possible; wearing sweaty clothes post workout can lead to clogged pores, breakouts, and body acne. Most people experience breakouts along their shoulders and back for this very reason. Ensure you cleanse your body and face, avoiding anything harsh or drying and follow up with an alcohol-free toner and moisturizer. Don’t forget SPF (sunscreen or mineral powder) if your skin will be exposed to daylight.
If you experience redness after working out, look for a moisturizer, serum or even a mask (if you have the time) with calming, soothing ingredients like aloe vera, chamomile, bisabolol, etc to help calm the skin. Keeping them in the fridge will help calming even faster.
Exercise is great for the body and even assists in a healthy complexion and glow. These easy skincare tips can help ensure your skin stays healthy and glowing even after your toughest workouts!
- Image: Flickr, Unknown
Nia is a licensed esthetician, creator of @SkinByNia and the Skincare Editor of the BeautyWell. When she isn’t performing services, or researching and buying all things skin, she works in construction. Really.