Exercising can mean different things to anyone who partakes in it. For some, it could just be a steady walk around the local park. To others it may be running on a treadmill and lifting heavy weights at the gym. Whatever form of exercise you choose to do, it will have an impact on your mind and body in various ways. The benefits of taking part in sport or leisurely activities can often include improving mental wellbeing and cardiovascular health. But does the same go when it comes to the appearance of your skin? Keep reading to find out more…

When you exercise, it may just seem like your heart rate is increased, you feel out of breath, and you seem to be sweating more than usual. But these adjustments are just a couple of many changes the body experiences when exercise is carried out.

As your heart rate is increased, the oxygenated blood which flows around the body is moving at a much quicker rate. Therefore, more nutrients (carried in the blood) will reach the skin’s surface. These extra nutrients play an important role when it comes to maintaining healthy skin as it promotes the production of new cells as well as collagen.

Studies have found that exercising for long periods of time or high intensity exercise may help to reduce signs of the skin ageing. This has been further backed up with other evidence that suggests exercise can reduce stress levels. A major contributor to premature skin ageing and potential aggravation of skin conditions such as Psoriasis and Eczema.

Although taking part in physical activity is beneficial in so many ways, ensuring that you are taking care of your skin before, during and, after exercise is vital! Without the correct routine in place, you may be leaving your skin prone to breakouts and irritation.

Before Exercising – 

Before you step foot in the gym or park, make sure that you have spent time to prepare yourself for the workout ahead.

a dark haired girl tying up hair

Avoid Wearing Makeup –  

If possible, avoid wearing makeup whilst you exercise. Opt for a bare face instead as this will allow your skin to breathe. Wearing makeup essentially adds a barrier to the skin which can start to clog up your pores. Now imagine you’re working hard, your body starts to sweat and produce excess oil, your skin is going to become a breeding ground for bacteria to grow and thrive.

Wear Sun Cream – 

If you are exercising outside in the warmer months, don’t forget to apply sun cream! Even if it seems to be cloudy overhead, the sun’s UV rays can still cause damage to your skin. You should use a sunscreen that is between factor 30 – 50 to give you the best protection. Try to use one which is water resistant too as this will stop you from sweating it off. To find out which sun cream is best for your, check out our recent blog  “An Easy Guide to Help You Decide Which Sun Cream is Best For You”.

Pack a Small Towel – 

Did you know: Over the space of an hour, the body can produce 1.4 litres of sweat. Pretty gross right? With that being said, should pack a clean towel to pat your face and body dry throughout your exercise.

Tie up Your Hair – 

If you have hair that is over shoulder length, then you should be tying it up to keep it out of your face. Tying your hair up will also help to stop any sweat from your neck getting on to your hair.

Top Tip – Use a spiral bobble to prevent your hair from kinking.

During Exercising – 

Your routine shouldn’t end there, the during phase is all about keeping clean, this includes yourself and the equipment that you use.

A womans hand with red nail varnish cleaning a 15kg weight plate

Sanitise Your Hands Before and After you Enter the Gym – 

Although covid protocols are now less strict, you should still sanitise your hands when you attend the gym or any indoor facility to kill off any bacteria on your hands.

Don’t touch your face – When you are exercising, avoid touching your face at all costs. The surfaces which you touch at the gym will have millions of tiny microbes on them. Some of which may be carrying germs that may cause you to become ill or end up with outbreaks of spots or even acne.

This is especially important if you have oily skin. Every time you touch your face, you will be disrupting the oil which is already present. Each time you go back to touch your face again, you will be essentially just moving the oil around, clogging pores at the same time. As a result, you may experience more breakouts.

Clean the equipment – 

Before you use a piece of gym equipment, make sure that you sanitise it with antibacterial spray and a wipe. This will help to make sure that what you are using is not carrying a load of harmful bacteria on it. Still avoid touching your face as not every single bit of bacteria can be killed with a disinfectant.

Have your towel to hand – 

As you start to sweat, you will want to keep your towel close to you. Wipe your face and neck to eliminate a build-up of sweat, this will prevent your pores from becoming blocked up and turning into pimples.

After Exercising – 

Once you have finished your workout, you should focus on getting your body clean, this includes your face and your hair.

A lady washing her face over a sink

Shower – 

Ideally the first thing that you should do is remove your sweat drenched clothes and jump straight in the shower. Staying in your gym clothes for some time after your exercise may cause oil and sweat to become trapped in your pores. Usually, gym wear is not breathable material therefore, this creates the perfect breeding ground for spots to form.

If you are on the go and have places to be other than home, still shower if you can. Most gyms have showers so even just a quick body wash before you leave can help to minimise any potential breakouts.

It’s also a good idea to wash your hair if time permits. Especially if you have long hair. Build-up of sweat on your scalp can disrupt the pH balance and cause a range of issues. This includes:

  • The potential fading of coloured hair
  • Itchy scalp
  • Weakened hair strands due to a build-up of lactic acid on the scalp
  • If sweat mixes with bacteria on your scalp, it can cause infections and may lead to dandruff.

Wash your face – 

This step is extremely important when it comes to the fight against breakouts. Washing your face with a gentle cleanser as soon prior to your workout will help to sweep away any build up of oil and sweat from the surface of your skin. Using a cleanser can also help to prevent your skin from being irritated.

Top tip – A quick splash of cold water on your face will not only help to make you feel refreshed, but it will also bring the temperature of your skin down much quicker. This will help to get rid of the dreaded tomato face quicker.

Apply moisturiser –

Drinking plenty of fluids throughout your workout is the key to keep you hydrated as you start to lose water through sweating. The same principle should be applied to keeping your skin hydrated. Moisturising after a workout will give your skin the hydration boost it needs and without it, your skin may dry out.

Conclusion

Whilst taking part in exercise is great for your mind and body, it can cause disruptions to your skin. Therefore, being conscious of how to care for your skin before, during and after a workout can help to keep your skin healthy too.