We all know the merits of a serious sweat session, from emotional health benefits to beating lethargy and feeling like the best version of yourself. But hitting the gym hard can wreak havoc on some people’s skin – especially if you’re prone to spots.
Can exercise cause spots?
“Sweat and dirt can clog pores during workouts, leading to congestion, blackheads, whiteheads and breakouts,” explains cosmetic dermatologist Dr Stefanie Williams.
If your pre-wedding exercise regime is causing your skin to suffer, it can be tempting to abandon your workouts in favour of a clear complexion. However, it is possible to have the body and the skin of your dreams – you just need to tailor your skincare routine to suit your lifestyle.
How to keep your skin clear when exercising
“One of the most important measures to keep your skin looking good is to remove make-up before working out,” says Dr Williams. It might seem convenient to use a facial wipe to quickly rid your face of foundation, but this is a recipe for skin sabotage.
“Rather than wipes, use a gentle yet effective cleanser that doesn’t strip the skin of natural oils,” advises Leyla Cooper, founder of skincare brand Pretty Athletic.
“After your workout, shower and cleanse your face straight away to wash sweat and dirt off the skin swiftly, otherwise this may cause breakouts,” advises Dr Williams.
One thing to note is that cleansing your face this frequently can cause your skin to become dry or irritated, so make sure to use a product that prevents this.
“A gentle gel cleanser is a good choice, as using a stronger foaming cleanser too often will dry out your skin, while a gentle, creamy version wouldn’t be effective enough,” says Dr Williams. “I also advise against using cleansing oils post workout, as they don’t give the deep-pore cleanse you’ll need.”
Pretty Athletic’s Cool Down: Purifying Gel Cleanser, £18, is a gym-bag staple for workout worshippers. It calms and soothes the skin, removing sweat, excess oil and impurities with nourishing ingredients including aloe vera, cucumber and green tea. It also contains hyaluronic acid, for a hydrating post-workout wash. If you’re a lunch-break gym goer and want to apply make-up after your class, reach for CliniqueFit Post-Workout Neutralizing Face Powder, £19.50, and Post-Workout Mattifying Moisturizer, £18.
The moisturiser provides a matte, shine-free finish, while the powder neutralises the look of redness and reduces shine, which is ideal for calming that post-workout flush.
How to look after your skin in the swimming pool
If you’re a keen swimmer, you might notice that chlorine can be irritating to blemish-prone skin. After a dip in the pool, the first thing to do is shower to clean off the chlorine. “Chlorine can remove the natural oils in the skin and can be very oxidising, so it’s important to rinse off,” says Dr Tom Mammone, vice president of skin physiology and pharmacology at Clinique.
Avoid double cleansing as it can be too harsh for the skin after a swim; use a gentle face wash and focus on hydration. Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream, £60, is famed for its hydrating properties, while Kate Somerville Dry Skin Saviour, £41, is perfect for sensitive skin, and promises to moisturise for up to 24 hours.
Gym bag beauty
We quizzed four leading fitness influencers on the beauty products they reach for pre- and post-workout – from high-end buys to high-street steals.