5 Easy Things You Can Do Every Day to Prevent Workout Acne

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? 

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.

When you wake up:
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!

When you pack your bag for class:
One of modern skin care’s greatest inventions is easily the body and face wipe: the ultimate on-the-go cleanser you can have when there’s not a sink in sight. And dudes, while you might think wipes are only for the girls – think again: they’re slim, a 30-pack is inexpensive and you don’t have to carry around a bulky product with you. Pack a few of these babies in your bag to keep the oil and product in your hair and sweat from class from dripping onto your face.

A face towel is also nice to have on hand, especially for the more high-intensity cardio classes like spinning and dance. If you’re taking a bootcamp-style class where you’ll be sharing gym equipment with others, hand sanitizer will be a skin lifesaver. All of that bacteria from all of those sweaty people? Yeah…snap one of those key-chain sanitizers on your bag for good measure.

What to do right before class:
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. 

What to do right after class:
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!).

What 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.

Jenn Sinrich is an editor in New York City, a self-proclaimed foodie always looking for the healthier version of all recipes, a passionate lover of all things cheese, a friendly New Yorker, Bostonian at heart and proud Red Sox fan. Love cats? Cheese? Mac n' Cheese? Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.