Although it might be hard to see the connection at first, regular exercise (whether you prefer the gym, bootcamp, yoga or just a run in the park) needs to be a part of everyone's skin health routine. A good, regular workout has so many benefits for your skin, including:
- Sweating: sweating is an important mechanism for your body to rid itself of toxins that could cause your skin to look dull and encourage acne and blemishes. Incidentally, sweat is also a key culprit in causing skin issues if one’s post-workout routine isn’t adequate (we’ll get there shortly)
- Increased blood flow: exercise, especially cardio-focused exercises, gets the blood flowing and the increased flow delivers more oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, including to your skin. As a result, your skin will look healthier and more youthful - it helps give your skin that sought-after glow
- Stress release: exercise is a great mechanism to let off some steam built up on the job, at home and in life in general. Stress can sometimes cause breakouts and aggravate certain skin conditions and it can cause you to age more quickly, so, best to leave it at the gym rather than on your face
- Better sleep: regular exercise can help you achieve better, more restful sleep. Your body repairs itself (including your skin) while you sleep, particularly during deep sleep, so, a better night’s rest can have an amazingly positive impact on your skin’s appearance
To maximize the benefits of exercise on your skin, it’s important to follow a few simple steps before, during and, especially, after your workout.
The type of exercise and location of your exercise definitely plays a factor in what you need to think about prior to getting started as it relates to your skin. A few basics include:
- Always wear sunscreen when exercising outdoors – no compromising here, just do it. A good broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 is critical to prevent damage from UVB (cancer) and UVA (pre-mature aging). Choose something light, fast-absorbing and non-oily to prevent clogging your pores as you sweat
- If exercising outdoors, wear sunglasses or a hat to block the sun and also prevent excessive squinting, which can lead to expression lines on the face over time
- If you’re swimming, apply a good face moisturizer prior to getting into the pool to reduce moisture loss and the impact of chemicals such as chlorine
- Drink plenty of water before heavy cardio – this will keep your body (including your skin) from dehydrating
During the Workout
Not much to think about here but below are a few basics:
- Avoid touching your face during a workout, especially if you’re using free weights and exercise equipment at a gym. As you probably expected, machinery at a gym is a petri-dish of bacteria and dirt that, if introduced onto your face, could cause blemishes and breakouts
- Use a clean towel to wipe sweat from your face. Once again, it’s important not to touch your face with dirty hands. Also, do your best to keep the surface of the towel that you will use to wipe your face off the floor or from hanging on the machine
- Avoid wearing headbands or hats (if indoors) as these items can trap sweat and oil and lead to blemishes and breakouts. If you do use a hat or a headband be sure to pay extra-special attention to the area of your skin beneath the band when washing post-workout
A good post-workout skincare routine is absolutely critical to avoid plugged oil glands, acne and an overall dull appearance. Ultimately, your post-workout routine can be as simple as cleanse and rehydrate. Here are some basics (and a few optional extras) that keep things simple and get the job done:
- Definitely follow a heavy cardio workout with plenty of water or a low-sugar electrolyte replacement drink. This will replace important fluids lost during your workout and keep your skin moisturized from the inside out
- Cleanse your skin. You should cleanse your face as soon after working out as possible to clear pores and remove the sweat and grime buildup that occurred during your workout. I’m not an advocate of toting your entire shower to the gym with you but packing your own face wash is likely unavoidable given how important it is to use a high quality product (i.e. one that doesn’t contain harsh, irritating detergents, will not strip your skin of its natural moisture and oils and has a PH of about 5.5 – 6.0). If you don’t have access to a high quality face wash, rinse your skin with water at the very least and do a proper cleanse when you get home. Definitely avoid using the commercial strength shampoo and body wash provided at the gym on your face – these will more than likely leave your skin stripped of oil and moisture and may upset its delicate chemistry, leaving it prone to blemishes. It’s important to give extra special attention to cleansing skin that’s been confined below a hat brim or headband as these areas are particularly prone to acne and plugged pores.
[Ernest Supplies Product Plug: Soap-Free Gel Face wash is a nature-inspired alternative to the harsh, chemical-laden products one might find at a drug store. It gently cleanses away dirt and excess oil built up during a workout and won’t strip your skin of it’s natural moisture and lipid barrier. Super-ingredients like hyaluronic acid will keep skin moisturized and from feeling tight. The product has a PH of 5.5 – 6.0 to work with your skin’s delicate chemistry. You can also use it as a gentle shampoo and body wash if you want to avoid the products your gym provides altogether. The pouch makes it simple to tote with you to the gym, bootcamp, yoga, etc.]
- Rehydrate your skin. After enduring a good workout and cleanse, it’s critical to re-establish the natural moisture and oils that have been removed from your skin. When it comes to your face, you really should invest in a high quality, fast-absorbing, nutrient-rich product that includes vitamins A and E and the super-ingredient hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring compound that is expert at restoring moisture to your skin and has also been shown to stimulate collagen production. If you’ve been exercising outdoors, a moisturizer with anti-oxidant ingredients is important to help repair damage caused by UV exposure and other environmental factors. Remember not to neglect your eyes - specifically, the area of your skin below and around your eyes. This is the most delicate skin on your face and should always garner a little extra TLC from a high-quality eye cream or serum.
[Ernest Supplies Product Plug: Protective Matte Moisturizer is packed with nutrients like vitamins A and E, as well as powerful antioxidants like acai, ferulic acid and green tea. It also contains a very generous amount of the super-ingredient hyaluronic acid. Montmorillonite helps control oil and eliminates the embarrassing “shiny face” one sometimes experiences after applying moisturizer. It’s light and fast absorbing so it won’t leave your skin oily or clog pores. Again, the pouch makes it simple to tote with you to the gym, bootcamp, yoga, etc. And don't forget your eyes. Our 360 Protective Eye Serum is built specifically for the area underneath and around your eyes and our bottle is perfect for tucking away in a workout bag.]
- If you’re prone to puffiness and redness after a workout, try taking a cool shower to release heat from your body and use a moisturizer with powerful anti-inflammatory ingredients such as green tea. It's also worth noting that hot showers (although I love them) tends to dry out your skin more than a lukewarm or cool shower - so, keep the water temperature comfortable but avoid super hot.
[Ernest Supplies Product Plug: Protective Matte Moisturizer contains green tea extract, which has an anti-inflammatory effect]
- If you have access to a steam room, try spending a few minutes steaming. This is a great, natural way to flush out your pores and release impurities from your skin. It also helps to keep your skin and hair hydrated and, of course, soothes sore muscles.
- If, after washing your hair with the harsh shampoo provided at the gym, you’re prone to dry, frizzy hair and, if you’re like me, you don’t lug hair products to the gym, try running a small amount of face moisturizer through your hair. This will keep your hair looking healthy and hydrated and doesn’t require toting an extra product to the gym.
[Ernest Supplies Product Plug: Protective Matte Moisturizer works perfectly for this - I do it all the time]