skincare, sweets, and Oxford commas

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Breakout-free workouts: 6 tips for clear skin

Jen on a run. Read on to find out how she keeps her acne-prone skin clear after an intense sweat sesh.

More energy, better health, toned muscles, more endorphins...the list goes on when it comes to the benefits of exercise. An active lifestyle can also add variety to your social calendar (mine would be all eating and drinking were it not for the occasional hike I do with friends...).

I love a great sweat sesh as much as any basic San Francisco bitch. But as someone with sensitive skin, I've come to terms with a harsh reality of staying fit: sweat-induced acne.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, when you exercise, sweat mixes with the bacteria, oil, and dirt on your skin's surface. That mixture settles into your pores, clogging them and causing breakouts, both on your face and body. LOVELY.

But whatever the skincare risk, the benefits of exercise far outweigh the costs. So no need to worry when you hit the gym–just follow these tips to keep the acne at bay:

1) Start your workout with a clean face. Best way to mitigate that sweat-activated cocktail of bacteria, oil, makeup, and dirt? Take makeup out of the equation. If you're rushing off to the gym right after work, keep some makeup-removing wipes (I love Olay Makeup Remover Wet Cloths) in your gym bag. Gently blot your face before you break a sweat, and you'll be good to go.

2) Invest in breathable, sweat-wicking fabrics. Especially for longer workouts, having sweat build up under your clothes while you move around is a classic recipe for acne mechanica, or friction-induced acne. You can prevent acne mechanica by keeping your skin ventilated and sweat-free. Workout fanatics and yogis go gaga over the sweat-wicking fabrics at Athleta and Lululemon, but I've also had luck with more affordable pieces at Target, Forever 21, and Amazon.

3) Shower within 20 minutes after your workout. You want to give the sweat as little time as possible to join forces with the bacteria and oils on your skin, so treat yourself to a shower as soon as you can after you exercise. Post-workout, I get especially excited to indulge in a deliciously scented body wash like Happy Bath's Grapefruit Sparkling Ale or Softsoap Juicy Pomegranate & Mango. Do a double-cleanse on your face for bonus points.

4) In a rush post-workout? Blot off excess moisture for the time-being. If you don't have time to shower after you exercise, gently blot sweat from your face and body with a clean, damp towel or facial wipe. Make sure you blot rather than rub to avoid friction-induced acne mechanica. And always always always take a full shower as soon as you have the opportunity: while convenient, a wipe should never completely replace a legit face cleanser or body wash.

5) Exfoliate weekly. Sift through workout-induced sebum and dirt left in your pores by exfoliating your face once a week (not more often, as over-exfoliating can leave skin raw and cause irritation). Exfoliation (using granules to remove dead cells from the skin's surface) leaves skin fresh and less susceptible to that sweat/bacteria/dirt mixture I talked about earlier in this post. My favorite exfoliants are Skin Food's Black Sugar Mask and Natural Aqua Gel Cure.

6) Take care of your skin in general. Follow the Lazy Girl Skincare Regimen to prevent acne from forming, and treat existing pimples overnight with CosRX Acne Pimple Master Patches.

I hope these recommendations save you from the headache of sweat-induced acne! I promise you it's worth it to exercise: you'll feel more energized, develop more grit and strength (physically and mentally), and ultimately have a more balanced, happier life. In the long run, a healthy, toned body will yield healthier, less-stressed skin. So every time you have the opportunity to exercise, go for it!
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