Working up a sweat at the gym is great for your physical and mental health - but can take a toll on your skin. A variety of non-ideal side effects can happen if you fail to take proper care of your skin after a workout, so it’s crucial to come prepared! We’re here to help you stop those side effects by understanding the physiological and dermatological processes of a healthy workout. And of course, as is our M.O., we’ll only be spotlighting the highest quality vegan, certified organic, and cruelty-free skin care picks that can help you prevent breakouts, redness, and irritation after your workout!How Is Your Skin Affected During a Workout?
Exerting physical effort puts your body into a state of physiological stress: your sweat glands produce more moisture in order to keep your body cool and your circulation increases, causing flushing and redness. After the fact, salty residue (from your perspiration) will typically coat your skin. What’s more, the gym can be a not-so-clean environment, meaning that you’re exposing your skin to sometimes bacteria loaded equipment and yoga mats, or otherwise to intensely humid air (think heated yoga class or spin class). The result is that without a proper gym bag skin care routine, your workout might be leaving you with blemishes, irritation and clogged pores on your face, neck, and back. So how do you avoid workout related skin woes?Step 1: Pre-Workout Skin Care
First thing: pre-workout it’s extremely important to wash your face and remove any makeup from the day. If you work out with makeup on, your sweat won’t be able to adequately filter through your pores. This means it will become trapped in your lipid layer along with any preexisting dead skin, impurities, and excess sebum. This is a recipe for blemishes, and can cause acne even in ‘normal’ skin types with generally healthy lipid layers and self-exfoliation mechanisms.
When you’re working out, your body is overheating in such a way that your pores open up. What this means: if you do take adequate steps to properly cleanse beforehand, a sweat session can actually be an opportunity to cleanse impurities and flush your pores. The takeaway? Cleanse and remove any makeup before you hit the gym - it’s not necessary to sport a full face just to impress that cutie on the Stairmaster!
For during workout treatments, try an essential oil spiked facial spray for continued PH balance, moisture, and redness reduction. Lavender oil kills bacteria plus reduces redness and blotching while also acting a soothing aromatherapy - it can be an incredible mid-workout soother for your skin. And if your workout is outside, make sure you throw a mini bottle of sunscreen into your gym bag survival kit, one that’s sweat proof and non-comedogenic (non pore-clogging).Step 2: Post-Workout Skin Care
In terms of post-workout care, the best approach is to put together a gym bag survival kit, and to COMMIT to a routine for cleansing sweaty skin at the gym. Think of it as the last stage of your workout cool down! The survival kit needs to include a cleanser with cooling ingredients to take down redness and heat, and to pump the brakes on perspiration (which can sometimes continue for up to an hour after working out). Intensely refreshing aloe water is a great post-gym cleansing ingredient, with its anti-inflammatory properties and antibacterial cleansing action. Puristry’s certified organic Nopal Cactus Cleanser is a smart choice, with its aloe water base plus vegetable glycerin, a natural humectant which draws water into your skin while minimizing oil overproduction.
Post-cleanse, it’s also important to apply a toner to re-hydrate skin. Your dermis can become intensely parched after losing large amounts of H2O through sweat. In fact, dehydrated skin is directly related to overall dehydration, so make sure you’re filling (and refilling) your water bottle at the gym, for max muscle performance as well as post-sweat skin health. Floral water and hydrosol are ideal post-gym toning ingredients. Rose hydrosol balances and restores skin’s PH balance, which can become out of whack during an intense period of exercise, and calendula hydrosol relieves skin irritation through its powerful anti-inflammatory properties (both of these hydrosols star in Puristry’s vegan and eco-friendly Flower Water Toner).
A light moisturizer should also go in your gym bag survival kit. Try something that features cooling ingredients like peppermint oil or cucumber, as well as antibacterial ingredients like neem, witch hazel or tea tree oil. Post-gym skin care is all about reducing oil, sweat, and impurities, so these products should be more geared towards cleansing and clarifying than your regular PM routine.
Finally, after a light moisturizer, you can finish your routine with a plant based pressed powder to reduce shine and mattify your dermis. Rice powder is a really light and beautiful plant-based option, with its moisture absorbing properties and light refracting benefits.Other Important Gym Skin Care Tips?
Make sure you’re using your cleanser on your face, back, and chest - all of which can be prone to breakouts and irritation, particularly if you’re wearing clingy workout clothing.
If you’re working out in a cold or dry environment, double up on a moisturizer or a facial oil made with antioxidant-rich seed oils. Try applying a light moisturizer to your cleansed skin before your workout to reducing chapping, then again post-workout to protect your skin and re-enrich your lipid layer.
A shower after working out is a fantastic way to keep your pores open, allowing for maximum product absorption for any toner or serum applications post shower. But, careful with the temperature - water that’s too hot can actually strip skin of moisture, so opt for a little more than lukewarm.
Keep hair off of your face during workouts to avoid breakouts around your forehead - especially if you use any sort of styling products in your hair!
Stock your bag with a gym survival kit, full of earth and animal-friendly vegan and cruelty-free products, and follow these smart tips for healthy post-workout skin!