Toned muscles? Yes, please! More energy? Yep, definitely, need that. Feeling more confident inside and out? Absolutely. Acne? Oh, not so much.
While the good that comes from exercising far outweighs the bad, breaking out after every workout isn't exactly a motivating reason to stay active. For some lucky souls, the post-workout breakout is never an issue. The rest of us have to take some strategic pre- and post-workout skincare measures to prevent unwanted results.
Here's what to know about the connection between your workout and your skin health:
Triggering the acne
Working up a sweat is the sign of effective exercise - and, of course, the reason for that flattering post-workout glow. However, it can also be the cause of your breakout. Board-certified dermatologist Whitney Bowe, M.D., explained it to mindbodygreen: "Our sweat contains ammonia and urea, so if we leave sweat on our skin for too long, this can cause irritation and inflammation, which can trigger breakouts."
Dr. Bowe further explained that the type of workout doesn't really matter, as it's the dirt, sweat and makeup that's generally triggering the breakout. What's more, sweating and overheating can mean trouble for people with sensitive skin or conditions like rosacea and eczema, according to SELF magazine.
Preventing the skin stress
If you notice an increase in blemishes or skin irritation after your workouts, the sweat-inducing activity could be the reason for the adverse effects. The answer, however, is not giving up on your workout routines forever. Dr. Bowe recommended cleaning your face before and after your workout, as well as avoiding sports drinks with sugar that can further add to the acne-inducing inflammation. Gentle cleaners made for daily use, like the ELEMIS Dynamic Resurfacing Facial Wash or the ELEMIS Gentle Foaming Facial Wash, are the best kind to use. Follow up the cleansing with an antioxidant serum to further prevent breakouts.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it's also not a great idea to wear your workout clothes for multiple sessions. The dead skin cells, bacteria, and oils leftover from your last wear can clog your pores, which is a surefire way to cause acne. Keep a towel handy during your workout to wipe off sweat as you go. Just keep in mind to gently pat rather than swipe across your skin, as harsh rubbing can cause acne to flare up, according to the AAD.
Last but certainly not least, take a shower as soon after your workout as possible to remove the sweat and bacteria before it can do its dirty work.