Exercise can do wonders for your skin: you get a natural glow, boost circulation to drive oxygen and nutrients to your skin cells, and sweat out all the toxins. But if you’re not careful, you can also get clogged pores, breakouts from bacteria that thrive in a gyms’ sweaty environment, and sun damage. Here’s the most effective skincare routine for anyone who exercises regularly.
Don’t touch your face
DO you know that the average person touches their face from 2,000 to 3,000 times a day (or an average of 2 to 5 times a minute!) It’s an unconscious habit, but try to break it — especially in the gym. Bacteria love the moist, sweaty environment. The weights, mats or even the tables and chairs have millions of acne-causing bacteria. So tell yourself, again and again: HANDS OFF YOUR FACE.
You also need to keep your hair away from your face — and that goes for guys or ladies with short hair, too! That’s how forehead acne starts.
Use clean towels
How often do you reuse the towels in your gym bag? If you have acne-prone skin, wash them after every workout, or dry them in direct sunlight to kill bacteria. To freshen up in the middle of a workout, use disposable facial wipes in convenient travel packs. Old towels — or even towels you draped on the bench or workout machine — can pick up bacteria. One study reported in Time magazine found that nearly 90% of bathroom towels have coliform bacteria and about 14% carried E. coli!
Skip the makeup
Sweat is your body’s natural detox treatment. So don’t stand in its way: keep your face bare and make-up free. If you’re working out after work, wash your face and remove all traces of makeup with a wipe or a bottle of micellar water. (Read about our favourite micellar water hacks!)
Avoid oil-based cleansers, which will still leave residue that can clog pores. Besides, with all the sweating you’re going to do, you’re not going to need or want anything thick or heavy on your face!
If you’re not comfortable not wearing any makeup in public, make sure it’s non-comedogenic. A sheer, tinted moisturiser may work better for you than a creamy, long-wear formula. Water-based BB creams can also feel light on the skin. However, dermatologists prefer you skip this step altogether if you have oily or acne-prone skin. Let your skin breathe!
Don’t skip on sun protection
If you’re exercise during daytime, you need sunscreen. A lot of gyms have huge windows that don’t filter out UV rays, and you’ll need even stronger protection if you’exercise outdoors. Your goal should be to even out skin tone, not necessarily conceal or contour. You can use a tinted sunscreen, or mix a drop of your usual foundation with a sunscreen, and you get both coverage and camouflage!
Cleanse extra thoroughly
This is a critical part of an effective skincare routine — every day, and especially after exercising. A shower just isn’t enough. You need to bring a good cleanser that can remove dirt, bacteria and sweat. If you’re acne-prone, get an anti-bacteria cleanser with gentle ingredients like tea tree oil or witch hazel. Your skin is extra sensitive after a workout, so don’t use anything too harsh or drying.
If you tend to get really red after exercising, get calming ingredients like green tea or chamomile. You can also wet a towel in cold water and press it against your face to reduce inflammation and help close the pores.