Quick confession: I’ve always struggled with hormonal breakouts—so, naturally, when I think of working out (and inevitably sweating!), my mind races with images of clogged pores and worsening breakouts.
But it doesn’t have to be that way!
We already know that regular exercise is healthy for our bodies and our mental health. Turns out, sweat is actually healthy for our skin, too. But before you rush off with your yoga mats, let’s lay down some nerd facts:
Sweating is essential in regulating your body temperature and balancing hydration for your entire body. But wait, there's more! Sweat—which is made up of primarily water—also contains small amounts of salt and urea. The result? A natural exfoliator for your skin (score!). Bonus: Urea contains natural moisturizing properties, keeping your complexion healthy and hydrated.
Sweating is also thought to purge your skin of impurities, which is great for getting rid of that dead outer layer often affected by pollution. It also contains an antimicrobial protein called dermcidin—in a nutshell, this protein works like a natural antibiotic on your skin’s surface to keep the barrier resilient and better able to filter out impurities.
Let’s do a quick recap, shall we? Sweating can actually purify, protect and rejuvenate your complexion. Plus, sweating improves sleep, boosts your mood and can reduce stress, which all impact the skin in a positive way. So, bring on the CrossFit, hot yoga or even a brisk walk—anyway you choose to sweat will help your skin look glow-y and healthy!
Now, I know what you’re thinking: But Sarah, I thought too much sweat could be bad for your skin. Doesn’t it clog your pores?
Glad you asked. True, it’s not all smooth sailing when it comes to sweat and skin. Sweat glands can get clogged, causing breakouts, or even milia (aka, the hard, white bumps that typically appear on your cheeks, chin or eyelids). Those with acne-prone skin will definitely notice worsening of breakouts not only on the face, but the back, chest and shoulders. Those with dehydrated or sensitive skin may also notice increased dryness or irritation if sweat is left on the skin for too long post workout.
So, how can we get all of the benefits of exercise and sweating without the clogged pores, breakouts and irritation? Here are a few tips to keep your skin clear and glowing before and after workouts:
- Start with clean skin. Never workout with makeup, heavy moisturizers, face oils or even sunscreen (unless you are working out in direct sunlight, of course).
- Try a gentle exfoliating serum. Acne-prone skin may benefit from working out while wearing a lightweight, exfoliating serum—one containing either glycolic, lactic or gentle fruit acids, like The Multitasking Night Serum. Using a luminous, water-gel texture, this serum contains a blend of gently exfoliating fruit acids that will help keep your pores clear. It’ll also help reduce the buildup of oil and sweat that leads to breakouts and milia while you exercise.
- Invest in a hyaluronic acid hydrating serum. Dehydrated skin and those with sensitive skin may benefit from working out with a thin layer of a hydrating serum containing hyaluronic acid, like our Go-Getter Day Serum. This magic in a bottle will help to hydrate and balance the skin while protecting it from the irritation sweat can sometimes cause. If you prefer to work out with totally clean skin, swipe on a thin layer post workout after cleansing.
- Remember to ditch sweaty clothes ASAP. Remove sweaty clothing and sports bras as soon as possible after a workout to avoid breakouts on your chest, back and shoulders. Also, ditch the perfume while exercising and use a fragrance-free detergent to wash workout clothes. Lastly, don’t forget to use a clean towel to blot skin throughout the workout to keep the excessive sweat to a minimum.
- Drink plenty of water before and after workouts. This will help to replenish the hydration lost from your workout and keep your skin looking plump and refreshed.
Don’t you just love happy endings? Sweating isn’t so bad, after all! Now there’s *no* excuse to skip out on your favorite workout. Bring on the sweat! As long as you follow these few simple tips, you can easily maintain that healthy post-workout glow all day long.