Whether you love exercise or you see it as a necessary mood-boosting practice, it’s a great way to take care of yourself.
The benefits of a good workout can’t be underestimated; it reduces stress, increases cardiovascular fitness, and can even give your skin a radiant glow. But if you’re not looking after your skin properly post-workout, you could be doing more harm to it than good.
Here, we have the ultimate guide to your post-workout skincare routine so you can reap the complexion-boosting benefits of your sweat sessions.
The right time and ingredients for cleansing
It won’t come as a surprise that your skin needs a thorough cleanse following exercise. Sweat is a sure-fire sign you’ve had a good session, but there has been mixed advice on whether it’s good for your skin and how and when to cleanse yourself of it.
Most of us now know that sweating is beneficial for our skin because it can flush impurities out of our pores. But did you know it could help you fight visible signs of ageing too? Exercising can make the mitochondria in our skin act younger, according to dermatologist Whitney Bowe MD – meaning a collagen boost, better hydration, and as a result, bouncier skin. And we’ve all experienced that unrivalled radiant post-workout glow.
Sweat becomes problematic if it dries on the skin – the impurities that it’s pushed out of your pores can be absorbed right back in. That’s why it’s essential to cleanse immediately after working out. Add an extra pore-cleansing boost by using a cleanser with salicylic acid to dissolve all the gunk that’s come out of your pores. If you have drier skin, choose a silky-textured face wash that gently foams to wash away any dirt and debris while leaving your skin soft and hydrated.
Boost your skin with treatments
Once you’ve purged all the sweat and impurities from your skin, you can use your serums and treatments. Your skin could become red and sensitive temporarily after a workout, so a nourishing treatment will help boost hydration and calm any inflammation or sensitivity.
Look out for ingredients like niacinamide, which can reduce redness in the skin and strengthen your moisture barrier – essential after a workout. As an added bonus, it can reduce the appearance of pores, helping to keep out any other pollutants that might try to work their way in there post-cleanse.
A face mist is another great option for post-workout skin because it can cool your face down while delivering hydrating ingredients that’ll replenish any water lost during your workout. It can also supercharge the rest of your routine, adding an extra layer of hydration that you can lock in with your next step.
Moisturising and protecting
Keeping your post-workout skincare routine simple will not only allow you to freshen up faster, but it’ll also ensure you’re not overwhelming your skin. Moisturiser is an essential step in any routine, but especially a post-exercise one. Sweat contains sodium, which can potentially dry out the surface of your skin. If you have a condition like eczema, sweat can exacerbate it.
You can use your tried-and-trusted moisturiser after working out if it already works for your skin. If you have oily skin, it’s best to stick to a gel texture that won’t overwhelm your post-workout skin. Dry skin will need a rich moisturiser to replenish any lost moisture – and if your skin isn’t overly oily, you might benefit from a cream with a thicker texture after working out to rehydrate your complexion.
If you work out during the day, don’t forget that all-important SPF – if you’ve exercised outdoors then we trust you’ll have applied it before working out. If you’re heading out again after your post-workout cleanse, you’ll need to reapply. Worked out at the gym? Don’t forget to reapply it before you leave.
Don’t forget your body
A lot of skincare advice focuses on our faces, but we can’t forget our bodies – especially after exercise. Make sure you change out of your workout gear as soon as possible. Fitted clothing can trap sweat on our bodies and lead to itching, irritation, and body acne. You should even change out of looser clothing too, so the sweat doesn’t get a chance to dry on our sensitive skin.
If you suffer from body acne, especially post-workout, use a body wash with active ingredients that can tackle the bacteria and sweat that’s causing it – salicylic acid is great at clearing away impurities both on the skin and in your pores, while benzoyl peroxide fights bacteria.
Like your face, your body needs to be rehydrated after a workout. A rich body moisturiser will leave your skin happy – and if you enjoy making the most of your post-workout glow, adding tan drops into it will leave your skin bright and bronzed without streaking or sinking into your pores.
The don’ts of workout skincare
You now know everything you need to do to care for your skin after exercising. But if you’re thinking about adding in a few steps, make sure it isn’t one of the below:
- Using a harsh scrub: facial scrubs often do more harm than good, but harsh scrubs are a total no-go after exercise, when your skin is more sensitive and could even tear more easily.
- Working out in makeup or with dirty skin: it’ll come as no surprise that makeup can stop sweat from flushing out your pores, but skin that hasn’t been cleansed can have the same effect.
- Going hard with active ingredients: while cleansers with actives can be especially effective after a workout, don’t double down with strong acid-laden serums. And leave the retinol for your nightly routine – or another night if you enjoy an evening workout.
- Scrubbing with a towel: you might want to sop up sweat with a towel as you work out and that’s fine, but don’t scrub too hard – this can make your skin sensitive and sore.
Exercise is important to our mood and our health, and it also has a lot of skin-boosting benefits. But it’s important that we protect our skin after a sweat session to prevent clogged pores, sallowness, sensitivity, and dryness. By following these tips, you’ll have a natural, radiant glow for hours and days after your workout.