If you’ve recently upped your workout game, you’re likely reaping many (pretty awesome) rewards: a better attitude, more energy, leaner muscles and a class schedule for the next week. While all of that sweat keeps you motivated to make it through a tough class, you might be having more acne breakouts than you did before. Hey, it happens to everyone, and while it’s normal – who wants to rock a pimple to a big meeting at work or on a date?
Does sweat cause acne?
According to dermatologists, sweat doesn’t cause acne but it can exacerbate pre-existing problems. The truth is, there are two kinds of acne—the kind caused by hormones and the kind brought on by clogged pores. But acne caused by sweat? Not so much. Sweat doesn’t contain common clogger sebum, an oily substance, so it won’t clog your pores. But if you are acne-prone, it’s likely that dirt and oil are already clogging your pores, which sweat can exacerbate. Basically, sweat makes a problem that already exists even worse.
Fortunately, preventing post-workout acne is doable. Taking small steps such as removing makeup pre-class, cleansing after excessive sweating and wearing breathable fabrics that wick sweat away from skin can make a huge difference.
Is sweating good for acne?
Sweating is not inherently good for acne. Sweat can make pre-clogged pores worse than they already are. If you do find post-workout breakouts becoming a regular occurrence, however, just throw some of these cleansers in your gym bag and keep on sweating.
How to prevent workout-induced acne
Don’t worry about that sweat – instead, try this 24-hour skincare routine that will kick workout acne to the curb and help keep your skin as healthy as your body.
Before your workout skincare
You washed your face before you went to bed, so no need to wash it again when you wake up, right? If you’re someone who thinks an AM cleanse is merely a wake-up call for your face, you thought wrong. Overnight, your skin is recovering from the previous day’s environmental toxins. This means, after an eight-hour slumber, your face has built up excess dead skin, which also creates excess sebum (that waxy, oily residue often nesting up in your T-zone). Simply using water only removes about 65 percent of the oil and dirt, so opt for a basic cleanser that caters to your skin type. For oily skin, go for an exfoliating gel wash that not only breaks down those free radicals, but also eliminates grease.
If your skin runs dry, opt for an all-natural face wash, like St. Ives Apricot Scrub that’s free from chemicals that can cause redness. If you land somewhere in the middle, any drugstore acne-fighting cleanser should do the trick. The key is in your commitment level, so make sure to stick with the wash each morning!
If possible, wash your face with that same cleanser before your workout. While women should pay extra care to remove make-up before working out, men should also wash to remove any oil or grease from the day. Washing it off before you get your sweat on will reduce breakouts and blackheads, and allow room for your skin to breathe.
If you’re taking an outdoor class, remember to load up on oil-free sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful rays that have been known to make some acne even worse.
Skincare to do right after your workout
If there’s one thing you’re tempted to do after an hour-long sweat session is to jump in a nice, hot shower to soothe and relax your muscles. Sure, the hotter the water, the better you feel, but the damage you’re doing to your skin may not be worth it. In fact, hot water actually strips your skin of its natural oils, leaving you dry, itchy and potentially red-faced. Your best bet is to shower with lukewarm water and keep not-for-your-face substances like conditioners and oils to their respective regions. If you can’t hop in a shower right away, use your handy face wipes to eat up excess sweat and oil. Taking public transportation home? Be extra careful not to touch your hands to your face (that’s where that sanitizer comes in!).
Skincare to do before bed
This might be the most important step of the entire process, as you’re feeding your face for a good night’s rest. Once you get out of the shower, remember to moisturize fairly soon. Your skin is thirsty after coming out of a shower (especially a hot one), so add a generous amount of light-weight moisturizer or cream on your face and neck for ultimate repairing while you snooze. Men – you’re not off the hook here, especially if you shaved your face, leaving it more vulnerable and in need of moisture.
Products to use to prevent acne
Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Wash – Pink Grapefruit
This cleanser contains salicylic acid, which removes excess dirt and oil from skin while also scrubbing away dead skin cells. Hello, unclogged pores and a clean complexion.
Clean and Clear Continuous Control Acne Cleanser
The benzoyl peroxide in this cleanser kills acne-causing bacteria…and quickly.
CeraVe Facial Foaming Cleanser
Great for those with oily skin, this foaming cleanser is perfect for unclogging pores and reducing redness.
Cetaphil Antibacterial Bar Soap
If you deal with breakouts and dry skin, try this body bar. It’s gentle on sensitive skin while effectively removing bacteria, sweat and dirt from pores.
Murad Acne Complex Acne Body Wash
If you tend to breakout in areas other than your face, this Murad body wash is a good investment. Its glycolic and salicylic acid combo is just the dynamic duo your body needs.