EXERCISE + SKIN CARE: Tips for Reducing Exercise Related Breakouts

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So you’ve been hitting the gym, getting into an exercise routine and feel more energized than ever but your skin has been breaking out more than normal. Not good…right?

Having worked as a personal trainer for over two years, I know that breakouts due to exercise can be frustrating. Physical activity is SO important to overall health but it’s not worth sacrificing your beautiful skin in the process.


I’m going to share some pre and post-workout skin care tips with you to help reduce your risk of gym-related breakouts. You will also find one of my DIY recipes below for an on-the-go quick-fix skin spray to throw in your gym bag!


How Exercise Can Lead to Breakouts

Exercise and sweat alone do not lead to breakouts. Most often, makeup is the culprit. When you exercise, sweating causes the pores to open up.


If you are wearing a lot of face makeup while sweating, this can clog pores and lead to breakouts. It can also trigger a form of acne called acne cosmetica, which causes little red bumps to form on the skin.

The gym is also an ocean of bacteria. As much as I’d like to think that everyone always washes their hands and uses the hand sanitizer at the gym, they don’t.


If you are grabbing onto weights, bike handles, touching treadmill buttons or using floor mats, you are likely getting some bacteria onto your hands. When you touch your face after touching the equipment, it is easy to transfer acne causing bacteria to your skin.


Keeping Breakout Free

Here are some tips to help keep your face breakout free:


Remove or limit makeup use. I totally get wanting to look your best for potential cuties in the gym! But going makeup-free is overall the best thing for your skin. If you feel comfortable going without, I’d encourage you to do it! You’re beautiful. I promise. But if you feel like you still want to wear a little, then I’d suggest using products like lipstick, mascara and eyeliner that don’t cover your whole face. Try to avoid heavy foundations, blushes and powders that are more likely to clog pores.


Only use clean towels. If you are continuously wiping your face and neck with a used, sweaty towel, you are creating a breeding ground for bacteria on your skin. This rubs bacteria and makeup around your face, leading to clogged pores. Be sure to simply pat your skin, avoiding rubbing with the towel, and replace your dirty towel with a clean one once you’ve used it.


Avoid touching your skin. If you are using machines, weights or mats that others have used, AVOID touching your face at all costs! It can help to use a sanitizing wipe to clean off the shared equipment before using it. Use hand sanitizer or wash your hands before touching your skin.


Wear your hair up. It may look cute to let your lovely locks flow, but this can cause acne on your forehead and sides of your face. Hair can rub against your skin while working out and increase your risk of breakouts. Use a headband or pony tail to help keep your hair out of your face. You will want to do this especially if you use multiple products in your hair, as the products will rub onto your skin.


Shower as soon as you can after your workout. The longer you wait to shower, the more time sweat, oils and bacteria have to build up in the skin and create an environment that leads to acne. Use a mild cleanser and body wash to get rid of the bacteria. If you don’t have time to shower or wash your face right away, you can follow my easy-to-make DIY recipe below for a skin spray that will help fight off bacteria until you are shower ready!


Baby Got Bacne

e all want to avoid that dreaded back acne, but if you are working out often, it is common for it to develop. This typically caused by the friction between sweaty skin and tight clothing. You can combat this by wearing loose fitting shirts. This doesn’t help the friction caused by sports bras, so make sure your bra isn’t overly tight and try to shower as soon as you can after the workout. Even using an on-the-go cleansing wipe on your upper back and chest before you leave the gym can help limit breakouts.


Bacne can also be caused by wearing dirty workout clothes. If you have already sweated in your clothes and they are full of bacteria from your previous gym session, then the bacteria from the dirty clothing can be transferred to your skin. ALWAYS wear clean clothes when exercising.


You can treat your back like you treat your face. Clean it with a body wash or your facial cleanser as soon as possible, and you can apply your skin care products to your back if needed. I will confess to having done this in the past, and it really helped limit my breakouts and reduced redness and inflammation.



You Can Have the Best of Both Worlds!

You don’t have to choose between exercise and great skin. You can still have both! Just make sure to follow these steps to help limit your post-workout breakouts.


Remember, diet and the types of products you are using on your skin can also lead to acne and other skin issues. For more clean beauty and wellness tips, head on over to the Pure Elements blog to learn more!