Lauren Hughes (@skinandthecityuk) is a qualified facialist, skincare expert and beauty influencer. She works as a facialist in some of London's top beauty salons and offers skincare advice and product reviews over on her blog, Skin and The City.
We all know that working out is great for our cardiovascular health, tones our muscles and clears our minds. But did you know it can also help to improve the health and appearance of our skin?
There are two main ways that exercise can have a positive effect on the health of your skin:
- Exercise increases blood flow, which brings oxygen and nutrients to the skin
- Exercise lowers the stress hormone cortisol, which can help to improve inflammatory skin conditions
While the benefits are undeniable, exercise can also play havoc with your skin if you don’t look after it properly. Here are my top 10 tips to make sure your skin stays as happy as possible while you are working out.
1. CLEANSE YOUR SKIN BEFORE EVERY WORKOUT
If you are working out first thing in the morning, use a very gentle facial cleanser before heading to the gym. This will remove any dirt and oil that accumulated on the skin overnight but it won’t disrupt the skin barrier.
If you are working out in the evening, it can be tempting to jump right into a class with your make up from the day still on. However this can clog the pores and cause irritation and breakouts. Using a microfibre face cloth with water before you start exercise will quickly remove make up from the skin, so you can go forth and sweat without worry.
2. Avoid micellar waters
Micellar waters have become very popular over the past few years and people often use them instead of cleansing, particularly before exercising. Micellar waters are brilliant at removing makeup, but if left on the skin they can be very drying. It is always best to remove any micellar water residue with a cleanser, so leave this product for removing make up on the days that you aren’t exercising.
3. Wear SPF
If you like to exercise outside, it is essential to wear an SPF, even in winter. UVA rays, which won’t burn you but are responsible for premature ageing of the skin, come through the clouds and damage the skin all year round. So to keep your skin young, healthy and fresh, slather on plenty of broad-spectrum SPF when you take your workout outdoors.
There are some great lightweight SPFs available now that are ideal for sweating in, including the Kiehl’s Aqua Gel SPF 50 and La Roche Posay Anti-Shine Gel Cream. Don’t forget to add SPF to the backs of your hands too - this is where we age first!
4. Use a workout towel or sweatband
During a workout you will often be touching equipment, whether its a yoga mat or a dumbell. Such equipment can be a breeding ground for bacteria. So it is important not to touch your face to wipe away sweat during the workout to avoid spreading this bacteria, which could potentially cause spots.
Instead of your hands I recommend you use a towel or sweatband to wipe away excess sweat. And make sure your towel/sweatband is washed regularly!
5. Wear a headband
If you are prone to spots on your forehead and around the hairline, wearing a headband during a workout can help prevent sweat that has mixed with the natural oils and products in your hair from running down onto the skin and clogging your pores.
6. Gently cleanse your skin AFTER working out too
Sweat can mix with dirt, oil and dead skin cells and cause irritation on the skin, so it is important to wash the sweat off your face as soon as you finish exercising. However make sure to avoid using very hot water on your face, as it can really dry out the skin.
The skin can also be more sensitive after working out, so avoid cleansers that are foaming or gritty and use a gentle cleanser instead. I love the Cerave Hydrating Cleanser or the La Roche Posay Toleraine Cleanser for pre and post workout cleansing.
7. Keep your cool
If, like me, you get very red and sweaty during a workout and it takes you a while to cool down afterwards, using cooling and hydrating products following your post-workout shower can be helpful.
The Darphin Cooling Stick is a skincare product that actually stays cold, so has a lovely cooling effect on the skin and is also very hydrating.
8. Stay hydrated, inside and out
A hydrating face spray is also a great way to cool down and add a layer of hydration to the skin after exercising. My favourites are the Clinique Moisture Surge Face Spray and the La Roche Posay Serozinc.
And it’s not just what you put on the outside - make sure to drink plenty of water after your workout to replace the fluids lost through sweating. Not only will this stop you feeling lightheaded and thirsty, it will also ensure your skin isn’t dry, itchy or dull-looking as a result of post-workout dehydration.
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9. Don’t forget your body!
When it comes to a healthy skincare regime, many people focus on the face. However, active people in particular can often experience spots on their chest, back or legs after working out.
While it’s tempting to just crash out on the sofa in your gym kit, removing your sweaty clothing and having a shower straight after you finish exercise is an absolute must for preventing spots on the body caused by exercise.
Use an anti-bacterial shower gel on your body too, such as The Body Shop Tea Tree Body Wash, to help to keep the skin clear after a sweaty workout.
10. Wear the right sports kit
Finally, wear the right kit. Wearing lighter, looser-fitting clothing such as an oversized workout tank will reduce the amount of sweat getting trapped against the skin and irritating pores. Similarly, good-fitting, second skin co-ords with shorts may reduce the friction that can lead to breakouts on the body.
Also, when choosing your activewear look for good quality fabrics that are breathable and sweat-wicking. This will help regulate your temperature better and prevent unnecessary levels of sweat.
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