Beauty Tips

Gym-Proof Your Skin

We could talk all day about how good exercise is for your body, fitness and overall health, but all that stretching and sweating can take its toll on your complexion. We’ve asked the top personal trainers, dermatologists and beauty experts how we can reap all the benefits of training hard without letting our skin suffer.

  • PROBLEM: Is that a wrinkle?
    Exercise in general makes your skin look younger, glowy and more taut. But the stress of hardcore cardio can increase cortisol and break down collagen, leading to a lack of skin firmness, and exercising outdoors can cause damage and lines.
    The experts say…
    NIKI: I suggest no longer than 30 minutes for HIIT training or intense cardio, but that said, it’s the love of what you do that is going to make you look young. If you have a passion for endurance training then keep going, just make sure to use relaxation techniques to help manage your body’s stress response.
    BRIT: Protect against damage from the elements (sun, sea water, wind) by ensuring you use a physical, broad spectrum SPF 30+ and a powerful antioxidant serum containing L-ascorbic acid. When you become leaner you reduce body fat, and a lack of fat in deeper layers of the skin can give a drawn, gaunt look in the face. Using cosmeceutical products containing peptides (protein!) will help keep the skin strong, and you can stimulate healthy collagen production with a dermal roller.

  • PROBLEM: Time to split
    From skin to scalp – the humble ponytail is the go-to hairstyle for active ladies, and while it’s brilliant at keeping our locks away from our faces, the constant tying can cause hair breakage. Meanwhile, chlorine from the pool will strip your mane of the natural oils it needs to stay luscious and healthy.
    The experts say…

    NIKI: There are now great hair tie alternatives, such as the plastic coil hair ties from Sweaty Betty, that do no damage and don’t even leave the unsightly dent in your hair. If you are a swimmer it’s important to be proactive to avoid hair damage. Protect your hair with a swim cap and follow up each swim with a strong conditioner and split end repair serum.
    EMMA: When swimming, I would recommend using a deep conditioner that you leave in on your hair. I’d also recommend using a nourishing hair mask once a week to maintain softness.

  • PROBLEM: No one likes a flaker
    More exercise brings with it more showering and more shaving, because being stubbly and sweaty is not our vibe. But this can lead to dry, dehydrated skin – also not a good look. Can we ever win?
    The experts say…
    NIKI: People’s skin tends towards dryness in the winter months, so it’s important to change your skincare products with the seasons. I like to use a day oil with primrose, which helps balance the skin tone then allow the skin to breathe at night with just a toner or serum.
    BRIT: When you exercise, very little of the water you drink will actually get to the skin cells, as your body will replenish the muscles and organs first. I suggest Hylauronic Acid Products – the b5 Serums are literally a drink for the skin.

  • PROBLEM: The dreaded chafe
    If anything proves the phrase, ‘no pain, no gain’ it’s chafing – the burning sensation you experience mid-workout thanks to your skin rubbing against either your clothing or other skin. Ouch.
    The experts say…
    NIKI: It’s worth going into an expert technical fitness shop to have a fitting and find the right apparel for your body type and the exercise you are undertaking. If the issue is skin against skin, try applying Un-Petroleum Jelly to the areas both before and after.
    BRIT: Make sure your training gear is made of spandex or lycra as opposed to cotton, which holds onto sweat and becomes stiff and rough. To treat chafing that has already occurred I would recommend a barrier cream (ideally one with silicone in it) which can be found in your local chemist.
    EMMA: A good moisturiser like the Avene Tolerance Extreme Anti-Irritating soothing cream can help to prevent your skin from chafing, and also helps to calm your skin after exercising.

  • PROBLEM: When bad skin happens to good people
    We thought we’d left spots way back with our teenage years, along with our terrible dress sense and questionable boyfriends. But alas, thanks to sweat clogging our pores, it’s hard to keep our complexions clear and bacne at bay.
    The experts say…
    NIKI: Simple – exfoliate. Whether you tend toward clogged pores on your face or body, exfoliating daily will keep them clear and ingrown hairs at bay. I love Exuviance Age Reversal Foaming Cleanser for my face and Nip+Fab glycolic pads for the body.
    BRIT: If you suffer from a mild breakout, use a gentle antibacterial cleanser that contains tea tree. For those with a more serious skin condition, use a salicylic acid cleanser – the active ingredients here cleanse the pores of any excess oil residing there, therefore allowing the skin to breathe.
    EMMA: Make sure to cleanse your skin properly after working out – a double cleanse is also a good idea for at night. If you’re going to wear makeup when working out, consider something light like the bareMinerals complexion rescue which offers coverage but doesn’t clog the skin.


Personal trainer and founder of barrecore, the hottest new fitness craze, Niki Rein knows first-hand how exercise can affect your skin.
Brit Ekelund is an expert practitioner at DestinationSkin and provides ethical solutions for all your skin concerns.
Editor of, Emma Leslie is an authority on all things beauty and the musthave products.}

Health & Wellbeing