Original Article By Annet King
A nice, sweaty workout is good for you, right? It gets your heart pumping, your muscles moving, and your endorphins rushing while promoting general fitness and an overall sense of well-being. What's not to like? Well, if you have oily skin and don’t follow certain steps, it can lead to skin issues and breakouts.
Feel like your complexion takes a bit of a beating when you break a sweat? That's because the skin is your body’s largest organ and one of its many functions, just like your kidneys, is to eliminate waste. Sweat is one of the best ways to get impurities like ammonia, urea, sugar, and salt flushed out via your pores, but if your sweat ducts are blocked, problems can arise. As your body heats up and circulation increases, oil production also shifts into high gear, which is all good unless, again, your pores are blocked with makeup and other occlusive ingredients that we’ll get to in a second.
The good news is if you take the proper precautions to keep breakouts at bay, exercise is very beneficial to your skin's health! When you work out, the tiny capillaries in your skin open up, allowing blood to deliver oxygen and nutrients to skin cells while whisking away the waste. O2 rich blood also helps neutralizes rogue molecules formed by the sun and environment that cause premature aging. Collagen and elastin production is revved up, helping to not only prevent but thwart lines and wrinkles. We also know that exercise lowers stress hormones and helps sensitive skin, rosacea, and acne. In fact, a study from the Harvard School of Medicine showed women who participated in vigorous exercise reduced their risk of developing psoriasis by 25-30%.
Here's how you can reap all the benefits of a great workout without compromising your skin.
Before You Work Out:
Starting with a freshly cleansed face is the best option. You don't want your makeup, SPF, and a day's worth of grime blocking the sweat or allowing irritants to sneak in. (Experience a stinging sensation while working out? It’s the chemicals in your makeup seeping in and triggering your skin’s immune response.)
Longwearing, waterproof, or full coverage foundation and powder are the worst triggers for congestion bumps and breakouts. Use a water-soluble cleansing oil or wipe to melt it off before you work out and follow with a light, oil-free moisturizer or mattifier to absorb excess oil.
If you wouldn’t dare to be seen without a little makeup on, start with a clean face and then apply a lightweight, oil-free tinted moisturizer, tinted lip balm, and waterproof mascara.In either case, a non-comedogenic moisturizer that contains SPF is imperative if you're going to be working out outdoors. And, be sure to tie back long hair and wear a headband to keep bangs (and pore-clogging hair care products) away from your skin.
During Your Workout:
Avoid touching your face while you work out. Everything your hands touch (from the weight machines, to mats, to other equipment) is dirty and you do not want to transfer bacteria to your face.
Rubbing your face roughly and continuously with a towel is another no-no. It's ok to gently blot if you're sweaty, but aggressive rubbing exfoliates and damages the skin’s barrier function, causing inflammation and possibly opening up pimples. To cool your face down and reduce redness, spritz with a calming toner after you blot.
If you're prone to body breakouts, avoid too-tight clothing and synthetic fabrics (organic cotton is the best choice). Wearing a baseball cap might also be the reason for those forehead friction pimples, so it’s best to leave it at home. Lay down a gym towel so bare skin doesn’t come into contact with publicly-shared surfaces like weight benches.
When finished, you'll want to rinse your face with tepid water to encourage skin to cool down and stop sweating. Use a foaming cleanser that contains salicylic acid or, if you don't have access to a sink, swipe a quick-cleansing towelette across your entire face and décolleté and finish by applying an oil-controlling lotion. If you feel particularly grubby, this is also great time to apply a detoxifying clay or charcoal-based masque.
If you have the time to squeeze in a shower, your skin will thank you for it. As sweat dries it leaves behind salts and other impurities, which can clog your pores, so the sooner you can remove them, the less likely blemishes will appear.
Remember, exercising can be good for your body, mind, and skin if you just follow these few, simple steps.