3 Top Skin Care Concerns After Working Out & How to Address Each One

May 10, 2017
By: Jackie Burns Brisman | skincare.com by L'Oréal
3 Top Skin Care Concerns After Working Out & How to Address Each One

Working out can benefit the overall appearance of your skin. However, those who are loyal to their regular sweat sessions may tell you that there can be some negatives as well—especially if you don’t take care of your skin before and after working up a sweat. From sunburns to clogged pores, we share three of the most common skin care concerns you may experience after working out below—and what you can do to help address each of them!

The Benefits of Working Out

Before we get into those three common skin care concerns, we think it’s important note some of the benefits exercise can have on the appearance of your skin. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, findings from a few studies suggest that moderate exercise can help improve circulation which can, in turn, give the skin a more youthful appearance. As well, keeping up a regular exercise routine can help to reduce stress and promote a better night’s sleep, both factors for maintaining a beautiful-looking complexion.

While it’s well known that regular fitness should be a part of your life, if you aren’t taking the proper steps to care for you skin before, during, and after your workouts, you may find that you’re noticing one of the common complaints below.

Sun Damage from Outdoor Workouts

Hikes, outdoor runs, a long bike ride—there’s something to be said about getting your fitness on outside. However, a common complaint for those who workout outdoors is sun damage.

Spending time in the sun increases your risk of surface skin damage and early signs of visible skin aging, yet some of us still reserve applying sunscreen for a day on the beach or at the pool. It’s important to remember that the sun’s harsh UVA and UVB rays are at work each and every day—rain or shine, winter or summer…you get the idea. This is why you need to be extra diligent about sunscreen application (and reapplication) every day, especially when you get your sweat on outside.

If skin damage due to sun exposure from outdoor workouts is one of your main workout concerns, always apply a product formulated with broad-spectrum SPF to help prevent sunburn before you head outside. Plus, be sure to reapply at least every 2 hours—though we recommend reapplying more often if your workout is particularly sweaty. Also, try to wear a hat, sunglasses, and consider investing in lightweight workout clothes with UV protection.

Dryness from Over-Washing

When it comes to washing your skin, there can definitely be too much of a good thing. Over-washing can strip your skin of the natural oils it needs to stay hydrated. Once your skin becomes dry and dehydrated it can also feel tight and uncomfortable and the visible signs of skin aging may be more noticeable, as well. But, when you workout you sweat and when you sweat you need to cleanse your skin to help wash away excess oil and sweat from the surface, right? So, what’s a gal—or guy—to do?

Before you get any ideas about not rinsing off after a workout know this: waiting too long to cleanse your skin—or worse, not cleansing at all—after a workout can cause a buildup of dirt, excess oil, and sweat on the surface of your skin, which could lead to blemishes. “The enzymes from your sweat can sit on the skin and can cause breakouts,” explains board-certified dermatologist and Skincare.com consultant Dr. Lisa Ginn. She recommends getting water—at the very least—on your skin within 10 minutes of finishing your exercise

Okay, so you can’t skip cleansing, but what happens when you have over-cleansed and your skin starts to look dry? There are a few steps you can take to help address this issue: 

  1. Reach for gentle cleansers – If your regular go-to cleansers and body washes are stripping your skin of moisture, try gentle options like micellar waters. These no-rinse cleansers are all the rage in France because the tiny micelle molecules are suspended in a soft water solution and work to help attract, trap, and remove impurities from the skin’s surface without harsh rubbing, scrubbing, or turning on the sink! Swipe a cotton pad soaked in micellar water across your face and another across your back and chest after working out to help wipe away sweat and excess oil.
  2. Moisturize after cleansing – Think your post-workout skin care routine stops at cleansing? Think again. Every time you cleanse try to moisturize soon after to help replenish your skin with hydration. Look for lightweight moisturizers formulated with ingredients like hyaluronic acid to help give your skin the moisture it craves. Think of it this way, you wouldn’t dream of not downing that water bottle to rehydrate your body after working out, so don’t skip out on hydrating your skin after cleansing!
  3. Workout before your morning or nighttime skin care routine – If your mid-day workouts are causing you to over-cleanse, consider switching up your workout time for early in the day or later at night. This way, when it comes time to cleanse your skin and rinse away those impurities, it will be during your regular morning or nighttime skin care routine when you would have done it anyway.

Clogged Pores from Not Removing Makeup

Remember how we mentioned above how enzymes from your sweat can sit on the skin’s surface after working out and could cause breakouts? Well this concern can be amplified if you fail to take off your makeup before breaking a sweat. You may be one of those girls who wouldn’t dream of being seen without her “face” on—and ladies, I am that girl—but if you don’t remove that glam before you get your fitness on you could experience skin woes down the road.

Removing your makeup before working out should be the first step in your pre-workout prep, right up there with stretching and drinking water. By allowing things like foundation, blush, highlighter, and concealer to remain on your skin before you start sweating, you could be putting your skin at risk for these cosmetics to mix with the sweat and excess oils on skin’s surface which could subsequently cause buildup on the surface of your skin. Keep makeup remover wipes or micellar water and some cotton pads in your gym bag and give your face a wipe down before getting started.

If congested skin is already an issue for you, consider incorporating a bi-weekly clay mask into your routine. Some clay masks have been formulated to help draw out impurities lingering on the skin’s surface, making them a must-have for any fitness enthusiast. 

Interested in learning more ways working out can affect the skin? We tackle topics like runner's face and more here!

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