Love to exercise, but worried about the effects it could be having on your skin? From facial redness to teenage-worthy breakouts, working up a sweat can take its toll on your complexion if you don’t take precautions. Luckily, we’ve got it covered with these expert tips to keep you body beautiful before, during and after your gym visit…
There are plenty of ways to look after your skin pre-workout. “Before any gym session, the most important thing is to ensure that you have removed your make-up”, advises skincare expert and Huffington Post blogger Seena Seka. “If you start exercising with make-up on, your pores will clog up due to the sweat and oil on your face, which is damaging.” Pores open up naturally when you sweat, so make-up can block your skin’s ability to breathe. “This can lead to acne cosmetica, a form of acne that looks like little red bumps with no inflammation”, explains skin expert and owner of Renew Medical Aesthetics (renewaesthetics.co.uk
) Kelly Saynor. “Mascara is fine, but everything else needs to be removed.” Kelly advises cleansing your face before you begin your workout as just travelling to the gym exposes you to pollution and bacteria.
“I would be cautious of putting products in your hair before exercise,” Kelly advises. “As you become sweaty, your hair can get wet, meaning that these products run down onto your face and ultimately block your pores.” Seena recommends tying your hair back, as it may be oily or have gathered pollution throughout the day, meaning that if it makes continuous contact with your face during a workout it could transfer oils, causing spots. However, avoid wearing a headband: “Headbands across the forehead are not recommended as they can cause a backup of oil and perspiration in the pores,” advises dermatologist Dr Salinda Johnson of the London Cosmetic Clinic (thelondoncosmeticclinic.co.uk
). “This results in pesky bumps or breakouts. If you find yourself with clogged pores and can’t live without a headband, push it further back in your hairline.”
Hydration from within
Don’t forget that when exercising outdoors, it’s important to wear a sunscreen with a light formula and to make sure that it has a high enough SPF to stop you from getting sunburnt, says Seena. Leading dermatologist Dr Simon Zokaie and founder of the Linia Skin Clinic (liniaskinclinic.com
) advises ensuring that your skin is well hydrated from within by drinking plenty of water and moisturising with a light product to protect the outside. “If you are prone to flushing, I would apply an antioxidant serum to help combat the inflammation,” says celebrity facialist Debbie Thomas (debbiethomas.co.uk
). “The serum should soak into the skin so it won’t sweat off when you’re training.”
Taking care of your skin while you’re in the process of sculpting those abs may sound strange, but it’s vital if you want to avoid annoying breakouts. Dr Simon advises drinking plenty of water, as the body’s organs can become dehydrated and, as the skin is the largest organ, it will be affected first. What you wear is also important – Dr Simon suggests steering clear of warm clothing and instead choosing breathable, wickable wear which allows your skin to perspire, helping to regulate your temperature.
Total wipe off
“You should also take care to wipe down any equipment you intend to use with antibacterial wipes,” adds Seena, as bacteria breeds easily on kit and you can’t trust others to clean it for you. Avoid touching your face or body while exercising to prevent bacteria being transferred directly to the skin, and don’t wipe your face with your hands – use a towel to pat your skin dry instead. However, Dr Salinda advises taking your own: “The towels at the gym have been washed with industrial detergents and bleaches,” she explains. “If they don’t wash them thoroughly, there could be residue of detergent that you don’t want on your skin.” However, make sure yours is clean as using the same towel for a few gym sessions is a big no-no, Kelly warns: “A used towel will be full of old sweat teeming with bacteria.” Into boxing? Unfortunately, those gloves can harbour a lot of germs, so carry a bottle of hand sanitiser with you to use before you put them on, or invest in your own pair.
Be sure to continue taking care of your skin and hair even after your session is over in order to retain nothing but your post-workout glow. “As soon as you can, cleanse your skin well to remove the toxins, sweat and oil and moisturise well to hydrate,” says Dr Simon. “Do not apply heavy make-up, but if you do have a lot of redness in your skin, look for moisturisers or skin serums with soothing ingredients such as white tea, sea whip, azulene, chamomile and bisabolol which will help to calm the skin by taking the pressure away from the capillaries.” This is especially important if you suffer from skin conditions such as keratosis pilaris, a harmless condition that leaves the skin feeling rough and bumpy, as if covered in permanent goosebumps, which will feel worse if you don’t cleanse properly after exercise.
Allow your pores to breathe
Another great tip is to change out of your fitness gear immediately, as it will allow your pores to breathe and prevent breakouts in areas such as your back and chest. Melissa Power, personal trainer at Centric:3Tribes (3tribes.co.uk) recommends showering straight after your workout to remove the build-up of bacteria and sweat in the pores, but avoid excessively hot water as this leads to facial flushing and can strip the skin of its natural, vital oils. “Don’t forget to pay extra attention to acne-prone areas where sweat accumulates most, such as the chest, back and stomach when washing,” advises Kelly.
Melissa suggests letting your skin breathe for a while after your workout, as make-up will clog on hot skin and sweaty pores, so you’ll end up using more than necessary and congest the skin even further.
Banish aches and pains
Once you’ve washed, Dr Preema Vig of the Dr Preema London Clinic (drpreema.com) recommends applying magnesium oil topically all over your body. “Not only is this great for moisturising your skin, but it also alleviates aches, pains, inflammation and muscle soreness and is linked to improving stress-induced dermatological disorders such as acne,” she explains. One final tip – “Carry on drinking lots of water after your workout in order to keep your skin hydrated and wash out any toxins,” advises Kelly.