This is what happens to your skin when you exercise

Find out if working out is good for your skin

We all know about the endless list of health benefits associated with regular exercise. To name just a few, not only does a gym session reduce our risk of cardiovascular disease and tone our bodies, it also boosts our mood and helps us maintain a healthy weight. So putting up with a few hours of heavy breathing and sweat every week (even when it’s the last thing we feel like doing) is more than worth it.

What’s lesser known however, are the effects exercise has on our skin. To find out what benefits are being reaped, if working out can actually help to treat skin conditions and to find out how soon you really need to wash your face after a gym session, we spoke to two skin care experts who revealed all.

#1 / The skin benefits from exercising

According to Face Plus Medispa Advanced Dermal and Laser Therapist, Erin Holohan, exercising “boosts oxygen to the surface and assists in feeding the skin. This is because exercising pumps nutrients throughout the body,” which in turn helps to repair the complexion by regenerating cells and increasing collagen production.

#2 / Exercise as an acne treatment

While there is no one-stop treatment for any skin condition that will work for everyone, Dermalogica Corporate Training Manager, Dennille Ludenau says, as a result of the endorphins being released during exercise and the subsequent decrease in stress levels that occurs, the production of “cortisol and other acne-provoking hormones that occur naturally when you are under stress” are also reduced.

#3 / The disadvantages of strenuous exercise

Both Holohan and Ludenau agree that too much or strenuous exercise can cause damage to the skin. “When we put our body under extreme stress by doing high-level exercise cortisol is released. It is thought that this hormone can lead to the breakdown of collagen and elastin, which accelerates the signs of ageing,” Ludenau explains.

#4 / A red face is completely normal

Sporting a red and blotchy face after an intense gym session is a common occurrence that almost all of us have experienced at one point. This redness is caused by the increase in oxygenated blood flow and is a totally normal symptom of a workout. If you’re already dealing with redness or rosacea and want to ensure your condition doesn’t worsen, Ludenau recommends making sure you have “a healthy diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, drink lots of water and wear SPF when exercising outdoors.”

#5 / Wash your face, pronto

While sweat won’t directly cause breakouts, not washing your face immediately (or as soon as you can) after a workout will “cause your skin to oxidise, which can cause blackheads,” according to Holohan. So, instead of sitting down on the couch straight after a workout, give your face a quick cleanse to ensure you remove all traces of sweat, dirt and impurities, stat. For this we recommend Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel, Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Wipes or Dr. Spiller Cleansing Milk with Cucumber Extracts.

Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel

Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Wipes

Dr. Spiller Cleansing Milk with Cucumber Extracts

To make sure you’re getting the most out of your products, follow our guide on the dos and don’ts of cleansing.

Image credit: @karliekloss

Kate has worked for BEAUTYcrew since early 2016, first as a contributor, before being named Beauty Writer in 2017. She loves picking the brains of the industry's top experts to get to the bottom of beauty's toughest questions. Bronze eyeshadow palettes are her weakness and she's forever on the hunt for the perfect nude nail polish to suit her fair skin. Her words can also be found in Men's Health magazine.