Did you know that exercise works wonders for the skin?
Exercising removes free radicals from the cells, releasing endorphins and counteracting the aging process by reducing cortisol levels. It increases production of human growth hormone, and thus collagen and elastin; those proteins give skin its strength and elasticity. Yay, natural botox!
Unfortunately, with all that exercising comes sweat, and when it’s left to dry on your skin it attracts bacteria that can cause redness, acne flare-ups, clogged pores, chafing, eczema flare-ups, psoriasis, scalp irritation or itchiness, dandruff, heat rashes, acne, back acne, yeast overgrowth, foot odor, jock itch, athletes foot, and more. Not quite the glow up goals we were hoping for.
Skin care musts before, during and after your workout
Ideally, we need to keep the skin dry and protected as much as we can to prevent these issues. So what do we do since it's widely understood that the benefits of exercising outweigh the downsides it can cause for our skin?
Well, having a proper before, during, and post-workout skin care routine is your best bet.
Prepare Before Your Workout
- Wear the right clothes and socks. Make sure they are light, breathable, sweat-wicking, cotton, and loose. Wear layers so you can remove them as needed so you don't overheat.
- Wash your face with a gentle, fragrance and oil free cleanser or wipe to remove dirt, oil, bacteria and to remove your makeup, if applicable, as it can clog your pores.
- Use a toner that’s hydrating or with beta or alpha hydroxy acid to remove the excess oils and acne-causing debris.
- If exercising outdoors and applying sunscreen separately, use an oil-free water-resistant broad spectrum SPF 30 or higher one and reapply as needed.
To avoid wiping sweat with your hands bring your own clean, antimicrobial towel with medium thickness to avoid possible skin allergic reactions.
Protect Your Skin During Your Workout
- Avoid putting towels on the ground, try to keep your skin dry as much as possible, especially in the folds.
- Try to refrain from directly touching your skin, especially your face, as using shared spaces may expose you to bacteria that can cause skin infections.
- Wipe down equipment that you're using or before use.
- Keep your hair off of your face so that oils and hair products stay off the skin. Headbands and sweatbands may be a good choice here, but remember to wash them as they may trap sweat that might have acne-inciting ingredients.
Cleaning Your Skin After Your Workout
- If you aren’t showering, use wipes to clean your face, neck, chest and body and change clothes as soon as possible.
- Try a cold shower, contrast shower (cycling between hot and cold water) or at least use lukewarm water.
- Wash your face and neck with a cleanser and follow up with your usual skin care steps. Make sure to use a loofah or exfoliating gloves to remove sweat and dead skin cells that may have loosened during your workout. Remember to change your loofah or gloves every 3-4 weeks for the cleanest skin and best hygiene.
If you really want to maximize your routine, let’s not stop there
- Change pillowcases and sheets at least weekly as they get inundated with dead skin cells and bacteria.
- Use fragrance-free laundry detergent/softener.
It’s also important to fuel your body with the proper balance of nutrients for optimal body/skin functioning, and make sure to choose ingredients that help with clean skin. Drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water daily. Eat foods with healthy fats like omega 3, high-quality protein and bone broths and vitamins and minerals like vitamins A , C, and E, manganese, copper, proline, zinc, selenium, biotin, iodine, riboflavin, niacin and foods high in anthocyanins. The use of supplements may be beneficial here to ensure you get enough of those nutrients. Other widely used supplements such as collagen peptides, amino acid compounds, and probiotics are beneficial as well for the skin to flourish.
Note: Talk to your physician before adding supplements or changing your diet.
Preparing the skin and creating a daily skin care routine that works for you is key. But don’t sweat it, just take one step at a time and slowly add these tips to your workout. Your skin will have nothing but glowing reviews for you!