The Strange Ways Working Out Can Affect Your Skin

January 30, 2017
By: Jackie Burns Brisman | by L'Oréal
The Strange Ways Working Out Can Affect Your Skin

While working out has many positive benefits for our mind, body, and spirit, turns out, there are some strange ways your favorite fitness routine can affect your skin. From body breakouts to “runner’s face,” check out the strange effects working out has on your complexion, below.  


The increased sweat from working out combined with excess oils and surface debris, trapped ever-so-tightly under a sports bra or yoga pants, creates the optimal breeding ground for bacteria. Add not showering—or at the very least, rinsing off—post-workout and you’re almost guaranteed a peppering of pimples across your facial complexion, back, and/or chest. To stave off workout-related acne, hop in the shower and wash your skin from head to toe no longer than 10 minutes post sweat sesh. No shower? Use a micellar water or cleansing wipe to hold you over until you can suds up.

Runner’s Face

Runner’s Face…it even sounds like a dirty word. Marked by a sunken, sagging appearance, some people believe runner’s face is caused from bouncing while pounding the pavement during frequent runs. While that remains to be seen—most dermatologists will tell you this is a big, fat lie—runner’s face is real…it’s just not caused by running. On the contrary, the premature signs of aging that show on a runner’s face are instead the result of not protecting the skin before heading outside for a run. Going on long runs or even short sprints without first layering on a broad-spectrum SPF is a guaranteed way to mark your complexion with wrinkles, fine lines, and dark spots. Before heading out for a run, layer a sweat-resistant broad-spectrum sunscreen of 30 or more—reapplying liberally and often—over an antioxidant serum. This way, you’re not only protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays, you’re also creating a shield against free radical damage. Win, win! Up your protection by wearing a visor and sunglasses to better shield your skin from the sun’s UV rays.

Dry Skin

Outdoor runners, you aren’t off the hook just yet. Both cross country runners and indoor swimmers can have something in common: dry, tight-feeling uncomfortable skin. And, as it turns out, their workouts of choice may be to blame. While excellent for warding off bacteria, the chlorine found in swimming pools can wreak havoc on skin if it’s not being taken care of properly. Wet your body (and hair!) with fresh water before you dip into the deep-end. After your swim, rinse off immediately and layer on a rich, emollient body cream or balm. If you run your laps outdoors, the climate could be the cause of your dry skin. Dramatic changes in temperatures, low humidity, and blustering winds can cause your skin to feel and look dry and chapped. Cover up before heading outdoors for your run with both layers of clothing and a layer of body cream to act as a barrier against the elements. Post-run, shower up and smooth some lotion over your skin again to keep it soft and supple—and don’t forget the SPF!

The Positive Effects Of Working Out

Now before you swear off the sweat, let us share some of the more positive skin side effects of exercise. Working out is known to help reduce stress and promote a better night’s sleep—two things necessary for a clear, glowing complexion. What’s more, the American Academy of Dermatology shares that findings from a few studies suggest that moderate exercise can improve circulation. This, in turn, may give the skin a more-youthful appearance. Practice good skin care habits in conjunction with your fitness regimen and you’ll be better equipped to avoid the more negative side effects we list above!

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