Getting your sweat on is part and parcel of exercise, but it can negatively affect your skin. Dermal Therapist Dr Giulia D’Anna shares her top tips for caring for your skin post-exercise.
A great workout usually results in a satisfying sweat, but a little less rewarding is the consequent skin breakout that can occur. The following will help you to keep your skin looking and feeling as good as the rest of you.
3 top skincare tips for exercisers
Schedule workouts around any skin treatments
After having any kind of facial, skin needling or even a humble ‘wax’, try and avoid the gym for 24 hours. These sorts of treatment make the skin hyper-inflamed, so afterwards, it has to work hard to repair, restore and rebalance. If you add a workout to the mix, it is just too much for the skin. The sweat glands are often ‘sealed shut’ due to inflammation caused by the treatment, so if you proceed to exercise, the sweat will still form but have no means of escape. This causes a blockage in the sweat gland, often leading to localised infection or acne. So, sweating is best avoided after having any kind of skin treatment or waxing.
Use skin-friendly products
After sweating heavily, you may find that your skin looks shiny or oily and be tempted to wash or exfoliate frequently to try and combat this. However, washing away the oils on the skin often leads to more oil being produced by the skin to combat this surface loss. Instead, use oil-free moisturisers. If you wear makeup at the gym or when training, it is advisable to limit your use of varieties that contain silicones, which are heavy and do not allow the sweat to escape the skin. Instead, use mineral makeup which sits on the surface of the skin and allows sweat, oil and moisture to escape.
Shower smarter – not hotter or longer!
When you’ve had a sweat session, it can be tempting to treat yourself to a long hot shower. The truth is, however, that this is no treat for your skin. Hot water dissolves the surface oil on the epidermis, leading to dehydration of the skin, so although it may feel therapeutic, it isn’t. Taking a long shower is also not great, because the skin surface has a natural pH of around 5.5, whereas water’s is 7.0. Over time, washing with even water alone can raise the skin’s pH. Add ordinary soap into the mix, and the pH rises to 10. Such an elevation in skin pH leads to a greater risk of skin breakouts as bacteria thrive in a neutral or basic environment. Those with sensitive skin will more likely also show signs of increased irritability and redness each time their skin pH deviates north of the usual acidic surface pH. It is far kinder to your skin, therefore, to set the temperature a little lower and to limit your shower time to around five minutes or less (which is also more environmentally and economically friendly!)