Skin Care and Exercise (Part 2)

Group of women working out at a gym

While Part 1 of this series may have outlined the skin care benefits of physical activity, Part 2 admits that there is no denying that exercising runs the risk of producing some unwanted skin care effects as well if we’re not careful.

But these negative effects, such as acne or skin irritation, shouldn’t stop us from maintaining a healthy exercise routine. In order to keep these downsides at bay, and to get the most out of your workout, follow the tips below.

  1. Protect from sun exposure

If you are exercising outdoors, and especially if you are doing so during peak sun time between 10am and 4pm, you should make protection from the sun a priority.

Sunscreen is an obvious must, even when it’s cloudy, but some are reluctant to use it because it can sting the eyes when you sweat. If this is a problem for you, try a gel or oil-free version; companies are even starting to come out with powder forms of sun protection. And don’t forget to reapply at least every 2 hours.

For added defense against the sun’s harmful rays, wear clothes that cover as much skin as possible, a hat to shade your face, and sunglasses. Though sunscreen is important, it can’t always be counted on alone when you’re getting all sweaty.

  1. Wear loose-fitting or moisture-wicking clothing

The irritation and increased perspiration caused by exercising in tight-fitting clothes can lead to acne or aggravate preexisting skin conditions.

Wearing clothing that is lightweight, loose-fitting, and even moisture-wicking can help avoid these issues. It is also recommended that you change out of your workout clothes soon after physical activity.

  1. Avoid touching your face

It’s always a good idea to avoid touching your face to prevent clogging your pores with oil and bacteria from your hands, but this is especially a concern when you’re exercising and touching a lot of sweaty and potentially dirty equipment.

If you need to wipe off excess sweat, blot—don’t wipe—your skin with a clean dry towel. Most gyms provide small hand towels for this very purpose.

Another good and related tip is to wash the equipment itself often since these sweaty surfaces collect dirt and oil that can be transferred to your skin. Wipe equipment down before and after use, and wash your hands after your workout for good measure.

  1. (Try to) avoid wearing makeup

It’s best to go to the gym without makeup on and apply it after you’re done exercising. This will prevent any products from clogging your pores while you sweat.

However, there are many noncomedogenic products out there that shouldn’t clog your pores even if you wear them while working out. So while it may be safest—and I think, easiest—to just wait and apply your beauty regimen after any physical activity, if you absolutely must wear makeup at the gym, make sure you take advantage of those noncomedogenic products.

  1. Don’t over-wash your skin

While different sources may give you different answers on whether it’s best to wash your face before or after physical activity, one thing is clear: you probably shouldn’t do both. Over-washing your skin can cause further irritation.

Instead, figure out what best suits your skin type and routine. Maybe starting with a fresh face of unclogged pores will give you a jump on any exercise-related acne. Or, maybe you find it more efficient to wash post-workout. Do what’s best for you, just don’t overdo it.

  1. Tie hair back

Those of us with long hair are probably already doing this anyway—because how else would we ever get any exercising done—but it should be noted that even shorter hair or bangs may benefit from being tied up or pushed back with a headband during physical activity. This is because doing so can help prevent additional oil and dirt from getting on your skin.

What’s more, keeping your hair out of the way and off your hairline has the added advantage of helping you to avoid touching your face because there are no stray hairs to push back.

  1. Wear flip flops in the showers and locker rooms

Any communal space like the gym, the showers, and the locker rooms require the proper footwear. This means wearing an appropriate shoe for the type of exercise you are doing in the gym and bringing along flip flops for the showers and locker rooms.

Don’t go barefoot in a communal shower or locker room. To protect your skin from fungal infections, or even worse, wear said flip flops whenever you are not wearing your workout shoes.

In the end, despite the potentially pore-clogging effects of getting sweaty, exercising does not have to result in skin distress. By adhering to the tips above, you can avoid the negative side effects of physical activity while taking full advantage of the positive effects listed in Part 1 of this series.

Have you tried these methods for keeping your skin clear while working out? Have you tried any other tricks that seemed to help? Let us know what works for you in the comment section!

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