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There aren't many negative things to say about getting a good workout in, except for the dreaded post-workout pimple fest. I know I'm not alone in the world when my good efforts in the gym unfortunately show up on my face, chest and back. I've tried different cleansers, clothes, detergents and wipes, and while some of these mix ups helped for a few weeks, I still find myself being much more prone to acne when I'm hitting it hard at the gym. In my search of some pimple problem solving, I found some great tips from licensed esthetician and acne specialist Alissa Chasen, B.A., L.E. at SkinFit Austin and the American Academy of Dermatology over at Hella Wella.
For my fellow acne-prone people, check out some great tips to avoid breakouts during and after exercise:
Don’t wear makeup: Every facility has one: the glamazon. Their face all done up to exercise. Don’t be this person, especially if you’re prone to breakouts. Makeup clogs pores, and that’s when pimples form. If you’re trying to impress the towel boy, Chasen recommends loose mineral powder.
“Loose mineral powder is the only makeup on the market that doesn’t contain comedogenic ingredients [check out Pore Clogging Ingredients in Skin Care Products]. Wearing loose mineral powder while working out does no harm to your skin; in fact, I even recommend wearing it for clients who work around french fry grease or chemicals as a way to shield their skin from their environment.”
Wash up: Right after a sweaty, cardio-intense workout, gently wash your face (especially if you are wearing makeup) and take a shower. Do not scrub the skin because that can cause more acne problems.
“Always carry your own towel and yoga mat, and clean them after each and every workout. Wash your caps and headbands after every workout, and NEVER wear them twice, Chasen said. “Wash your face last, after you’ve rinsed out your shampoo and conditioner, so there are no acne-causing sulfates left on your face from your hair products.”
Blot: When sweat is dripping off your face or body, be sure to blot with a clean towel. Wiping off sweat irritates the skin and can cause a breakout.
Avoid friction: I spend most of my life sweating underneath a skate helmet playing roller derby. Turns out, sweating, especially under a hat or helmet, can aggravate acne-prone skin due to friction. If you wear any type of gear when you work up a sweat, make sure it fits snug to avoid friction. Also, consider wearing cotton fabric between the gear and your skin.
“‘Acne mechanica’ are pimples caused by friction from rubbing bacteria-laden materials like sweaty workout clothes, towels, hats and helmets against your skin,” Chasen explained. “This is especially common in people who play sports requiring helmets because they are impossible to clean, or for those who like to wear caps when they run. I call those little bumps on the forehead “hat acne,” most commonly caused by wearing a dirty, sweaty hat. I always tell my clients to wear a clean hat every day!”
Wear the right material: Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing made of cotton or other natural fabrics so that your skin can breathe; this kind of clothing is less likely to cause friction. Synthetic fabrics lock in moisture, which is not good for your skin. However, you can find great moisture-wicking synthetic clothing out there these days. Check out Zobha’s moisture-wicking, quick-drying activewear. Also, if you’re an exceptionally sweaty person, like yours truly, bring an extra shirt with you in order to stay dry. Moisture and sweat lead to acne.
Treatment for existing breakouts: Chasen recommends getting clear by using a gentle cleanser like EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser and a non-comedogenic sunscreen like EltaMD UV Clear, combined with a mandelic serum and low-percentage benzoyl peroxide gel formulated without pore-clogging ingredients. She also loves Face Reality products.
Are you prone to acne after an intense workout? Have you come across any helpful beauty tips along the way? If so, please share them in the comments below!