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How to Take Care of Your Post-Workout Skin

by Hannah Smith

Here at TCT, you know we love a good skincare routine and by now, we’ve hopefully drilled that sentiment into you, too. But did you also know how important your post-workout skincare is? There’s a few tips and tricks to ensure you’re keeping your skin top-notch following a workout. Whether you prefer Shadowbox or a quick lap on the treadmill, start implementing these steps ASAP!

Take That Makeup Off

While the bulk of our discussion here will focus on what to do to your skin AFTER working out, it’s important to prep your skin correctly, as well. The most important thing by a long shot is to ensure any and all makeup is removed. Working out releases sweat that builds up under dead skin cells on the skin, but add makeup to that, and your chances of breaking out are a lot higher.

Think of it this way: sweating is your body’s way of expelling toxins through the skin during a workout, but if there’s makeup sitting on top of that, it will impede the body’s ability to properly expel of those toxins, and instead, the sweat and bacteria will build up underneath your makeup. And no one wants that. 

Wash Your Face RIGHT Away

When your workout has concluded, wash your face immediately. This is NON-NEGOTIABLE. No matter what you do, wash it RIGHT AWAY! If you’re in a gym and have access to a shower, we definitely recommend hopping in, too. But if a sink or shower is far from your reach, carry facial wipes or micellar water with you, as any cleanse is better than no cleanse.

Any commute from your workout to shower can give sweat and oil a chance to cling harder to your skin, making it tougher to clean thoroughly and more prone to breakouts. According to the Thirty, dermatologist Whitney Bowe stated, “[Sweat can irritate the skin], specifically, the ammonia and urea in sweat can cause irritation and inflammation if left on skin too long. The sodium in sweat can dehydrate skin if left too long on the surface, and the evaporation of sweat from skin can aggravate people prone to eczema.” Now you might be thinking, “I have dry skin, should I really be washing it again?” The answer is yes! No matter your skin type, as you workout, bacteria and sweat build up on the skin and can potentially clog pores if not properly taken care of. These clogged pores later turn into our arch enemies, pimples.

Wash Gently

More importantly, though, wash your face gently. As you work out, your pores dilate to release sweat and can make your skin more delicate and sensitive. Avoid cleansers with acids or micro-beads as these can tear at your already sensitive skin and may further irritate your skin or cause breakouts. In addition, your skin can become dehydrated from releasing so much sweat, and using exfoliants or acne-control products will only dry it out further. Instead, opt for milky cleansers like Cetaphil or Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser to gently extract dirt and oils instead of rubbing them out.

Use Colder Water

Again, your pores dilate as you workout to release sweat, and using cold water to wash your face will help close those pores and lessen the opportunity for more oils and dirt to sneak in. Plus, this will help cool your body down after heating up during your workout. While taking a full-on cold shower isn’t necessary, it is helpful to use cooler water as opposed to hot, as it can help tighten pores not only on the face, but all over the body, as well as help with inflammation on the skin and in your muscles. You can eventually start to warm up the water you’re showering in, but starting with cooler water is key. Doing this technique will be your BFF in terms of reducing redness post-workout, too. 

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!

When you’re working out and sweating, your body and skin are losing water, so it’s important to not only drink water, but to use hydrating products on the skin. Whether you use a hyaluronic acid, a cream, an oil, or a serum is completely up to you, you do not want to skimp on moisture! Your body and skin need it desperately. I personally recommend using a hyaluronic acid serum, like the one from The Ordinary, prior to moisturizing products as it will improve the effectiveness of every oil or cream your slather on after. Products like Noto’s Moisture Riser Cream with hyaluronic acid will give your skin exactly what it craves, but if you’re feeling extra, the Circumfrence In-Depth Hydration Face Mask will provide an extra boost of moisture. But if you’re on the side of super pale and therefore prone to serious redness, opt for anything with Borage Seed Oil as it is an intense anti-inflammatory oil, providing moisture and anti-redness in one step.

Leave Treatments for Bedtime

By now, you’ve probably gotten the gist that the simpler the better when it comes to post-workout skincare simply because your skin is more sensitive after a 45-minute sweat-sesh. This also means leaving acid treatments or retinol products for bedtime. To be clear, you really shouldn’t be using acids or retinols during the daytime anyway, but if you’re already in that habit, just be sure to not add it on after your sweat-sesh. Unless you go to sleep after your workout, you have no reason to use these products post gym. Your skin goes into a reparative state when sleeping so these products are most effective then. Truth is, using them post workout has the potential to irritate your skin and it can potentially cause more harm than good. 


Feature image via Vanessa Granda 

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