Pre and Post Workout Skin Care for Sensitive Skin

Whether you're a dedicated gym rat or you’ve only just started your fitness journey, you’re doing something amazing for your body! However, working up a sweat consistently can have a negative impact on your skin if you do not take proper care. With dirty gym equipment, excessive sweat, and tight gym clothes, breakouts and irritation are bound to occur without a dedicated, workout-friendly skin care routine.

Perfecting both a pre- and post-workout skincare routine will help ensure you have healthy skin to go along with your healthy body.

Keep reading to learn the best tips for skin care for exercising.

pre and post workout skin care tips infographic

Pre-Workout Skin Care

Before you hit the gym go through these steps to prep your skin for your workout.

Cleansing Pre Workout

If you’re working out in the morning, skip the cleanser since your skin should still be clean from your cleanse from the night before. Spoiler alert: you’re going to be cleansing post-workout, and you want to avoid over-cleansing since it can dry out your skin.

Should you remove makeup before working out?

If you’re hitting the gym after work or later in the day, what should you do in regards to your makeup? Leaving your makeup on for a workout may result in smudgy raccoon eyes when you forget to prioritize waterproof mascara, but does leaving your foundation, concealer, and powder on negatively impact your skin? 

When you workout your pores open up and all of the makeup and dirt sitting on your skin can penetrate the pores easier which can lead to clogged pores and breakouts.

In this instance, cleansing pre workout can be beneficial. At least remove your makeup with a bit of micellar water or a makeup remover wipe before starting your workout.

If you prefer the extra coverage or just can’t be bothered to remove your makeup pre-workout, it’s not necessarily the end for your skin. Opt for face products that are specifically formulated to be non-comedogenic, meaning that they will not clog your pores. Mineral makeup is a great option since it is lightweight, breathable, and doesn’t contain a lot of the harsh ingredients that other makeup does.

In general, skipping makeup and letting your skin breathe can be the refresher that your skin needs. Read more about the benefits of taking a break from makeup.

Protect Your Skin with Sunscreen

This one’s especially crucial if you opt for an outdoor workout, but even if you’re working out in an indoor gym with windows or skylights, liberally apply a broad spectrum SPF 30 (or above) sunscreen to your face and any exposed skin. Any exposure to light, even if blocked by windows, puts your skin at risk for potential UV ray damage.

Read more about why you need sunscreen indoors.

Since you’ll be working up a sweat, choose a lightweight, water-resistant sunscreen, and reapply after 80 minutes.

During Your Workout

There are also some steps you can take during your sweat sessions to take preventative care of your skin.

  1. While you workout, do not touch your face to limit bacteria transferring from gym equipment to your skin.
  2. If you have sensitive skin, avoid using the towels that your gym provides because they could potentially be using a laundry detergent that can irritate your skin. Bring two of your own clean towels: one to wipe down the equipment before and after use (preferably with disinfectant spray) and another to wipe sweat off your face and body. Choose two different colors so that you don’t accidentally rub your face with the built up bacteria living on the bench.
  3. Tie your hair back to prevent oil and built up hair product from coming in contact with your forehead. Also avoid placing sweatbands, bandanas, and thick headbands around your forehead. These can be helpful for keeping sweat away from your face and eyes, but it can also trap sweat in your pores which is a surefire way to provoke acne.
  4. Stay Hydrated - Replenish the hydration you lose to sweat by chugging down water during your workout. Hydrated skin is healthy skin.

Post Workout Skin Care

After your workout you may be tired and sluggish, but don't collapse on your bed just yet. Use these tips to refresh your body after exercising.

Get out of your workout clothing

As much as you may love the athleisure look, leaving on tight, sweaty gym clothes will trap in sweat and lead to irritation and breakouts.

So if you’ve been experiencing a bout of bacne right around where the racerback on your sports bra sits, and you couldn’t quite put your finger on why, marinating in your sweaty activewear post-workout may be the culprit.

After your workout you may be exhausted and couch-bound, but get out of your workout clothes and into the shower ASAP!

Showering After the Gym

As soon as you can possibly hit the shower post-workout, do it. Not only are you ridding yourself of all the sweat you accumulated, but also the bacteria and dirt that you probably picked up from the gym equipment. This bacteria can lead to fungal acne which dermatologists note is common with their gym-going patients.

Use a sulfate-free body wash to rid your body of sweat, bacteria, and dirt without stripping your skin of its essential natural oils that keep your skin hydrated.

Try Cleure Face and Body Wash for Sensitive Skin:

Cool Down

After your workout you may cool down with a light walk on the treadmill or some stretching, and your skin needs a cool down as well. When you exercise, your body temperature increases, and heat can be damaging to the skin. Cool down by showering in cold or lukewarm water, or splash your face with cool water.

Post Workout Skincare Routine

  1. Wash your face - Start out by cleansing off all of the built up sweat, dirt and bacteria from the gym, and any leftover makeup from both your face and neck. If you have dry skin choose an oil-based cleanser, and if you have oily skin try a gel cleanser (here’s more information on finding the best cleanser for your skin type).
  2. Toner - If you’re on the go a toner facial mist is a great substitute for a cleanser. Just spritz it on your face and wipe away excess dirt and oil with a clean cotton pad or cloth.
  3. Exfoliate - Open up any clogged pores with a gentle exfoliating scrub.
  4. Moisturize - Restore any moisture lost during cleansing and sweating with a hydrating moisturizer.

Exercising with Rosacea

If you get flushed after your workout, suck on a piece of ice to help cool off your body and bring down the redness.

However, if you have rosacea, the post workout flush may be more severe, considering intense exercise can trigger rosacea outbreaks. Lower intensity exercise can help limit this, but it’s best to contact your dermatologist to explore options for treating your rosacea while maintaining your workout split.

You can also try these home remedies for rosacea.

Skin Benefits of Working Out

If you follow these skin care tips along with your workout routine, you will find that there’s a wealth of benefits that come along with consistent exercise. 

  • Exercise helps limit production of the stress hormone cortisol which is responsible for breakouts and premature signs of aging.
  • Increased blood flow and circulation can help skin look more plump and radiant 
  • When your overall health is prime, your skin will show it. A healthy body and healthy skin go hand in hand.

Next time you hit the squat rack or the track, keep these tips in mind so you can experience only the pros of working out, not the cons. Well, not all of the cons, we can’t do anything to help make your workouts easier. No pain no gain. 

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