Because going to the gym is hard enough
There’s no denying that finding the motivation to workout can be hard (hello, winter!), and the potential for unpleasant post-gym acne can make it *even* less motivating.
While exercise can be great for the skin (PSA: It’s known to help minimise the appearance of ageing!), post-gym acne and bacne are enough to make you think twice about hitting the gym.
According to Sydney dermatologist Dr Natasha Cook, if you’re prone to acne or other body breakouts, exercise can potentially increase the risk of sweat-induced breakouts.
“We find that exercise can lead to occlusion of the sweat follicle, increasing [the] risk of conditions like folliculitis (bacterial pustular infection of the follicles) and heat rashes,” says Dr Cook.
“The risk associated with acne is less, however exercise could aggravate this condition if you have acne-prone skin,” she adds.
But don’t sweat it - there are actually some pretty easy steps you can follow before, during and after a gym session to ensure you keep your complexion clear.
BEFORE: Workout without makeup
It’ll come as no surprise that going barefaced can make a world of difference when working out. An unholy mix of makeup and sweat can cause a build-up of dirt and oil, clogging pores and potentially encouraging breakouts, blackheads and skin irritation.
If you’re going straight to the gym after work, make sure you keep a packet of face wipes in your gym bag so you can easily remove your makeup on the go.
BEFORE: Tie your hair back
Leaving your hair out while exercising can increase the risk of breakouts by allowing bacteria and hair products to sink into your pores. Reaching for a headband or opting for a ponytail can help keep your complexion and back clear.
Want some tips on fuss-free hairstyles? Check out our favourite gym-approved hairstyles, guaranteed to stay in place during even the most strenuous cardio sessions.
DURING: Try to avoid touching your face
Exercise equipment like yoga mats, bars, weights and bike handles are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. So. Gross. Most gyms have antibacterial wipes handy, so use them to wipe down each surface before working out (don’t trust others to do it after they’re finished!) and try to keep your hands away from your skin until you’ve properly washed them and had a shower.
AFTER: Cleanse after you workout
Cleanse your face. ASAP. Letting sweat sit on your skin for any prolonged length of time is not a good idea (read: breakout city). To avoid dryness and effectively remove sweat, Dr Cook suggests using a gentle cleanser such as Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, before applying a serum. “To prevent congestion and breakouts, follow up with a serum that contains salicylic acid, AHAs or both. These ingredients will stop occlusion of the follicles and gently remove dirt and sweat, preventing rashes and breakouts. This will also leave your skin glowing.”
AFTER: Choose the correct moisturiser
To prevent irritation, redness and to give your skin a kick of hydration after an intense workout, Dr Cook suggests using a non-occlusive hydrating moisturiser.
AFTER: Hop in the shower
Chilling in your sweaty clothes after your workout is a big NO - it can lead to body acne and ain’t nobody got time for that. “After you workout, have a shower. On the body you should use a wash like BENZAC AC 5% Mild to Moderate Acne Wash (it contains five per cent benzoyl peroxide) BUT mix it with something gentle like Cetaphil so it’s not too irritating,” advises Dr Cook. Not familiar with benzoyl peroxide? It’s a powerful pimple-fighting ingredient that works by attacking and reducing acne-causing bacteria and inflammation. It also works very quickly, so it’s a great weapon against those clogged pores!
Do you suffer from post-gym breakouts? What products or tricks do you recommend? Let us know in the comment section below.
Main image credit: @hoskelsa
Erin Docherty is a Beauty Writer for BEAUTYcrew, Beauty Editor for Women's Health magazine and a Grooming Writer for Men's Health magazine. She has a keen interest in cosmeceutical skin care and is currently working on minimising her 9-step skin care routine – because ain’t nobody got time for that. When she’s not writing about the latest beauty news, or applying copious amounts of serum, you can find her spending all her money in Sephora.