How to save your skin at the gym

Exercising is not only tough on your body, but also on your hair and skin. Here’s how to maximise your beauty benefits while you work out.

Before your work out

Remove  your make-up

“When make-up mixes with sweat, it breaks down, leaving chemical by-products on your skin that can cause irritation and blemishes,” says hair and make-up artist Jessica Berg.

“To avoid breakouts and other skin problems, wash your face with a gentle cleanser before working out.”

If you must wear make-up to the gym, limit it to under your eyes where there are no oil glands to clog, or choose a tinted moisturiser that doesn’t contain mineral oils.

“You can also wear mascara and lip gloss,” says Berg.

Choose a light moisturiser

Now that your face is totally clean, keep it that way.

“Resist the urge to slather on heavy face creams as they often contain ingredients like mineral oils that can block pores once you start sweating,” says Sonja Millar from 1O1 Darley Beauty Collective.

If your face feels dry, use a light moisturiser to protect skin.

“You don’t need anything too heavy because when you work out, your heart rate increases, causing adrenal glands to release cortisol. Cortisol in turn stimulates oil glands so you don’t need extra oil found in rich moisturisers,” she says.

Tie your hair back

“Styling products can cause breakouts when they mix with sweat and run on to your forehead and hairline,” warns Berg.

“Use a stretchy cotton headband to hold hair off your face. You can also opt for a ponytail but don’t have it too tight as it can cause breakage during rigorous activities such as running and aerobics.”

Use snag-free elastics and spread a little conditioner under and around the elastic to prevent tearing.

tidy gym hair

While you work out

Don’t be afraid to get sweaty

“If you’re worried perspiration will trigger a pimple flare-up, relax,” says Millar.

Sweat won’t lead to pimples as it doesn’t contain oil or bacteria, the two causes of breakouts.

“It’s make-up and hair products that are the troublemakers – that’s why it’s important to steer clear of them before you start working out,” she says.

“Sweating is good for your skin as encourages you to drink more water, which helps flush out toxins and promote a clearer skin.”

Hands off your skin

“Even the cleanest gyms are loaded with germs,” says Millar.

“To make sure you don’t pick up any skin infections or acne-causing bacteria, keep you skin as clean as possible and never touch your face. Always use a towel or anti-bacterial face wipes to wipe away sweat.”

It’s also probably a good idea to take your own towel too.

“Gym towels are rarely soft and are often washed in strong detergents, so they can irritate and scrape the skin,” says Millar.

After your workout

Maximise your glow
The best time to use exfoliating creams, masks or peels is right after you exercise, says Millar.

“Increased circulation turns on oil glands, making your skin softer and more permeable. That means your favourite face or body product will be even more effective than usual,” she says.

“Ensure you use hydrating products as your skin’s moisture will be depleted after exercising. Re-hydrating the skin will make it look more plumped up and therefore younger.

“One caution – products that irritate you at other times are likely to be more effective now, so stick to products you know and have tried before.”

Don’t forget your hair

“Make sure you use a gentle, effective cleansing shampoo designed to remove any oils or grease that might have built up while you worked up a sweat,” says Berg.

“When you condition, only treat the ends of your hair and avoid using any on the scalp to minimise the after-effects that frequent washing can have.

If your gym has a steam room or sauna, boost your hair’s shine while you relax by combing a mask through damp hair, then wrapping it in a moist towel.

The heat will help hair cuticles expand and let the conditioner penetrate the shaft. Leave in for about 15 minutes before rinsing out with cool water.

Written by Nikki Yazxhi