Caring for skin when you exercise (hi, sweat!) is a question my clients ask often. It’s important to take skin care into account before, during, and after exercise to maintain a healthy and balanced complexion. Here's how to keep your skin from suffering though your workout.
While the should-you-wear-makeup-to-work-out debate is alive and well, it’s actually more important to wash your skin after than before working out because — even if you're diligent with your makeup-removing wipes — oils, bacteria, and sweat will accumulate on the skin. Still, if you're wearing a heavy foundation & you have time to spare, it’s good to wash your skin with a mild, non-drying cleanser, followed by an alcohol-free toner, and lightweight, oil-free lotion before hitting the gym. If you are exposed to daylight or sunlight during exercise, then use a moisturizer with sunscreen and dust on an SPF-infused mineral powder which can provide a bit of coverage in addition to protection from damaging UV rays. Eye makeup and lipstick are fine to wear if you don't mind having mascara sweating down your face.
To Moisturize Or To Not
When you exercise, your skin loses water due to evaporation leaving it dehydrated. This can increase surface lines as well as dead skin cell buildup, clogging your pores. Using a lightweight moisturizer will help to retain the water in the skin. If you're exercising outdoors, it’s best to use a very light moisturizer (with a sunscreen!).
Avoid Misting Sprays
If you mist your skin with a water-based toner (even if it’s alcohol-free) and do not apply any moisturizer over it to seal in the hydrating ingredients, it can attract the moisture and water out of your skin and into dry, winter air. Moisture acts like a magnet in that it attracts other moisture and will always go to the driest area. So, misting your skin will make the moisture within your skin evaporate out, leaving it tight, dry, and dehydrated. This is also true of airplanes. Misting alone is not recommended before, during or after workout.
Surely this isn't a surprise, but machines at the gym house many harmful bacteria, so it's best to keep your hands off of your skin (and out of your mouth). You don’t want to introduce bacteria that can possibly result in new breakouts, or the spreading of existing breakouts. Always wash your hands before and after working out — and, if you can, when switching machines.
Headband and Bandana Enthusiasts, Beware!
Headbands, hats, or bandanas across the forehead are not recommended as they can cause a backup of oil and perspiration in the pores. This results in those pesky, clogged bumps or breakouts. If your skin is not prone to breakouts (lucky!), this may not be an issue for you. but if you find yourself with clogged pores and absolutely can't live without a headband or bandana, push it further back in your hairline.
RELATED: Here's How To Properly Hydrate Your Skin
When you're done working out, wash with a mild gel cleanser to thoroughly remove oil, toxins, and sweat. This is especially important if you have oily, combination, or acne-prone skin. After a workout (or any time you wash your skin, for that matter), avoid cleansing gels that contain sodium or ammonium lauryl sulfate: These ingredients will pull water out of the skin, leaving it dehydrated. For drier skin types, wash with a lightweight cleansing lotion. After cleansing, wipe your skin with an alcohol-free toner and immediately apply a moisturizer for your skin type. If it’s still daylight, be sure to apply a moisturizer with sunscreen or dust on SPF mineral powder.
If you have a lot of redness in your skin after your workout, look for moisturizers or skin serums containing soothing ingredients like white tea, sea whip, azulene, chamomile, and bisabolol to help to calm the skin down by taking the pressure off of capillaries. If you have the time when you get home, apply a thin coat of a gel-based mask to cool heat-activated skin and infuse water deep into the cells. If you keep it stored in the refrigerator, it will calm the skin down even faster.