The Most Important Things to Do to Your Skin After a Workout
Working out has many benefits for the skin: It improves circulation by pumping oxygen to the cells, making your complexion appear radiant and healthy. But if you don't take proper care after exercising, your skin could become itchy, inflamed, and breakout prone. "Some people might feel like their pores are clogged right after a workout, and other people might be able to wait all day without showering and not break out," says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Sandra Lee. "It depends upon your skin type—how prone you are to breakouts, whether you are oily or dry, even where you are in your menstrual cycle, since hormone surges can make you more likely to break out." Still, it's best not to risk it by putting off proper post-workout skincare. There are a few important ways to care for your skin after exercise, not only to avoid blemishes, but also rashes. Here, Lee shares her tips.
Pre-workout, use a salicylic acid body spray.
Something like SLMD Salicylic Acid Body Spray ($37.99, target.com) will exfoliate your face and body, getting rid of dead skin cells, oil, and debris within your pores to keep them clear. "It can prevent pores from getting clogged when you start sweating," Lee says.
Post workout, shower as soon as possible.
"The longer you stay in sweaty clothes, the higher the chances that sweat, dirt, and bacteria will clog your pores and lead to a breakout or irritation," Lee says.
Wash your scalp and hairline.
"If you are prone to an itchy and flaky scalp, you should not shampoo and condition less, but actually more often," Lee explains. "A simple rinse with water will get the salt and sweat out of your hair, but you need some conditioner to soften your hair and protect it from sun, wind, and haircare tools that administer heat." Trying to go longer between washes? "If you are not washing your hair, be sure to wash the skin on your hair and neckline well—these areas are prone to acne, and a lot of people may experience pimples there from hair products and sweating during workouts," she continues.
If you can't shower, clean up with wipes.
If you're jetting off to work or school, showering probably isn't always possible. In these cases, keep cleansing wipes on hand. "They're a quick and easy way to remove acne-causing bacteria and grime," Lee says. "And they're small and easy to throw in your bag."
Change your clothes.
"Sitting in sweat can lead to a lot of different skin conditions," Lee says. "A common one that is similar to body acne is folliculitis, which happens when hair follicles are infected with bacteria and become inflamed, appearing like little whiteheads on the body. Sitting in sweat can also flare eczema, and lead to skin rashes and skin yeast infections."
"It's just as important to keep your body hydrated as it is your skin," Lee says. "When we are dehydrated, it can cause our skin to look a little dull and sallow, so it's always important to be drinking water."