Exercise is great for your well-being but many people complain of suffering from post-workout acne breakouts. Can sweating in the gym cause acne and a deterioration in skin health?
It’s true that exercise helps lower your stress levels. Less stress means you are less likely to suffer from stress-related spots and acne. Exercise also helps to boost circulation, increase the production of collagen and elastin and has been seen to have a pronounced anti-ageing effect – however, it also makes you sweat.
Sweat can help the body to get rid of toxins and push impurities out of your pores. This is all great, but can a build-up of perspiration in the gym cause skin conditions like acne?
Studies show that the more you exercise the more your skin will improve over time. Working out 2-3 times a week increases important blood flow to your skin cells, promotes cell regeneration and improves your overall health. All of which means by hitting the gym, getting out for a run or putting in a regular bike ride, you’ll be less prone to acne and spot breakouts in the future.
Many people find that working out when they have acne is really off-putting. Although the long-term benefits of fitness for your skin are clear, the short-term effects are sometimes not as pleasant. For example, sweating off your make-up can make acne-prone people feel self-conscious. The redness that follows exercise can often exacerbate spots – even more so if you suffer with sensitive skin. If you don’t clean your face properly after a particularly intense workout session your skin can actually get worse.
During a workout, you will sweat more than you normally do in your everyday activities. ‘Gym acne’ breakouts occur when your sweat mixes with oil, dead skin cells and bacteria. This can leave your pores overwhelmed and clogged. And clogged pores are a one-way ticket to spots!
How Do I Prevent Gym Acne?
There are a few simple ways to give your skin a helping hand so that your pores don’t become overly clogged during a workout.
- Remove all makeup, moisturisers and other oils before you hit the gym. It can be daunting to ditch the make-up when you’ve got acne. It’s often a short term fix for when you don’t feel confident about your skin and want a quick cover-up solution. The problem is that wearing make-up can clog up your pores. For some people, this isn’t an issue. For others, it means make-up ‘sits’ in your pores, sebum (that’s oil) also collects there and then bacteria is added into the mix. All that can, unfortunately, lead to or worsen acne.
- Go make-up free as much as possible, especially when you’re working out. Your body will be producing an excess of sebum which will essentially speed up the whole acne-promoting process. Try to plan ahead and come up with some solutions that work for you. One of our favourites is to simply wash your face just before you work out, so it’s fresh and makeup-free before you start sweating.
- Head to the gym without make-up and pack a medicated concealer rather than a thick foundation. You can apply the concealer after you wash your face when you leave. It’s not about abstaining from make-up completely but just making a couple of tweaks to your beauty routine. Working out doesn’t make your skin worse than it was before you entered the gym!
- Take a clean towel into the gym with you. The key to prevent acne is proper use. Gently pat your skin dry to remove excess sweat. Don’t rub! Vigorous rubbing can irritate pores, causing skin inflammation and spot breakouts.
- If you are prone to back acne (b-acne) or other body breakouts make sure you exercise wearing clothing that allows your skin to breathe and doesn’t trap sweat against your top layer of skin – it could make your acne worse.
- Change out of your gym wear as soon as possible after your workout and wash it before your next gym session as it will be harbouring sweat and oil. And remember to wipe out your gym bag. You don’t want to transfer dirt and bacteria between sessions.
- Shower as soon as you can post-workout to make sure you remove excess sweat and oil from your skin, and you may try to squeeze in a quick skin care routine too. If your schedule doesn’t allow for a shower straight away, then at least change your clothing.
- Gym equipment can also harbour dirt and bacteria. Give any equipment you use a quick wipe before and after you use it. Avoid touching your face and any other areas prone to spot breakouts whilst using weights and machines. Using a hand sanitiser can help with this, effectively reducing the chance of bacterial transfer.
- Stay Hydrated. It’s vital that you keep up your liquids during a workout. Dehydration is not good for healthy skin and dry skin certainly won’t help with your spot breakouts.
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