By Kayleigh Christina, COO & Co-Founder of CLEARSTEM Skincare
When we exercise, we increase blood flow, when we increase blood flow, it helps to nourish our skin cells keeping our skin looking extra bright and glowing.
For so many people, working out has created a negative thought around skin thinking that it triggers acne. “Every time I workout, I breakout” leading to the myth that exercising and sweating causes acne. This is not true! I’m here to bust the myth that working out causes acne. The end result after reading this will be glowing, clear skin post workouts!
Let’s get into it!
The top causes of why people breakout after working out:
Wearing makeup with pore-cloggers in it
Using skincare with pore-clogging ingredients
Not properly exfoliating
Not washing your face post-workout
Improper skin care routine pre & post-workout
Acne-triggering ingredients in hair conditioner
Touching your face while working out
Wiping sweat with dirty towels
Now that you know the top causes, let’s dive into the 5 secrets for exercisers to have clear & glowing skin post workouts.
1. Ditch the pore-clogging makeup, skincare, and haircare
Just because a product is marketed that it will “clear your skin” or “help control oil for breakouts” doesn't mean it will. Any product can claim that but still contain what’s called pore-clogging ingredients aka comedogenic ingredients and cause acne. You will know it’s a product breaking you out when your breakouts are all over your skin (no single place), dominant on your sleep side, or on your back (conditioner is the culprit of this one).
This can be frustrating as a consumer not knowing what to buy. Luckily there is this simple search tool that allows you to check all makeup, skincare, and haircare for pore-clogging ingredients. You can go HERE and simply copy/paste the ingredient deck of your products to see if it is breaking you out. (If you can’t find the ingredient deck, just google your product!)
Pore-clogging ingredients from makeup, skincare, and hair care are one of the biggest root causes of acne post working out. By removing the products breaking you out you will see an immediate difference in your skin!
2. Learn the right kind of exfoliation for your skin
For years we have been told that exfoliation is bad for acne. MYTH! Exfoliating is one of the best ways to actually clear your skin. Acne thrives off of dead skin cells and clogged pores. The best way to remove dead skin cells and unclog pores is exfoliation. The most important thing to know is that proper exfoliation is key (there is a wrong way to exfoliate). If you are using a product or tool that is too harsh of exfoliation, you are aggravating and inflaming the skin causing further DNA damage and not allowing your skin to heal properly. Enter - physical and chemical exfoliation for a bright and clear complexion. Ditch the harsh tools (like brush exfoliation tools) for gentle physical exfoliation. We love this one that has soft bamboo beads for gentle exfoliation. The next important step is chemical exfoliation, don’t let the word “chemical” scare you, it just means the product uses acids to dissolve both dead skin cells and what’s in the clogged pore. Many times these acids are derived from fruits. This one is our favorite (it’s nicknamed “the blackhead dissolver for a reason) and designed for everyday use. This is a GAME CHANGER for anyone who struggles with acne after exercising.
3. Splash your face with water after sweating
After you workout, your skin is now covered in sweat and bacteria. When that goes in your pores without being washed away, it causes acne. If you are working out at home, make sure to shower and wash your face immediately after your workout (preferably within 5 minutes). Don’t forget to follow with a non-pore clogging moisturizer. Since your pores open up during a workout, if you are using skincare products with pore-clogging ingredients post-workout, they will go in even deeper making your acne worse. If you are working out at a studio that has a bathroom, it’s always best to bring your face wash and moisturizer with you. If all you have access to is a sink or water fountain, give your skin a few splashes of water to get off that top layer of sweat and bacteria. This will buy you enough time to get home and properly wash your face after.
4. Stop touching your face
Bacteria breeds on workout equipment. When we touch the equipment and then our face, we are adding even more bacteria to our skin that then gets into our open pores causing breakouts. This can also lead to infected and deep cystic acne. Even if you have sanitized your hands, avoid touching your face because this can also cause dry and irritated skin patches. The average person touches their face 2,000-3,000 times a day, so many times we do it unconsciously. It’s good to be aware of this when working out. To help avoid touching your face, make sure that your hair is pulled back and secure before your workout begins so you are not constantly adjusting it. If you need to pat your skin with a towel, make sure you are not laying the towel down on dirty equipment and rubbing it all over your skin, only pat where the sweat is dripping into your eyes.
5. The perfect post-workout skincare routine
Having the perfect skincare routine saves so much time, energy, and stress! Especially post-workout so you don’t have to worry about any products breaking you out. Here’s what we recommend for clear, bright, and glowing skin.
Cleanse, exfoliation, and moisturize, it’s that simple! Our favorites are found HERE.
Cleansing your skin will remove top layer sweat, bacteria, and makeup (we love double cleansing). Exfoliating will dissolve dead skin cells, fight acne, and brighten your skin. Lastly, moisturizing (moisturizing is important even if you have “oily” skin!) will keep your skin calm and hydrated.
Don’t forget, if you are working out outside, always use a zinc-based SPF with no pore-clogging ingredients! We recommend this one before working out.