Exercise & Your Skin
We all love that post-workout glow—that glistening, sweat-kissed pop-of-pink. Hands down, there’s no facial like it! As one of the best natural skin treatments, exercise offers a host of beauty benefits—many of which you’ll rarely find in a simple cream. So if you’ve been slacking on Pilates or skipping the gym, our expert tips from top specialists will reboot your skin-fitness journey. Let’s learn how to keep your face clear and polished before and after exercise—even if you’re acne-prone. Ready to
run read? Okay, let’s HIT IT!
Skincare tips before exercise
Before getting our sweat on, we should prep our pores for all kinds of cloggers, including dirt, yeast, sebum, and bacteria. Since a moist face is more prone to collecting this gunk as we perspire, we need to condition our skin to endure these germs.
Prep your face for sweat and sebum
During exercise, there are two main factors responsible for gluing these microbes and pore-cloggers to our face: sweat and sebum. And while they’re not the same, these two fluids both play a role in the health of our skin during and after exercise. According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Heather Brennon, sweat is the watery liquid released from the surface of our skin, while sebum is an oily-waxy substance secreted from the sebaceous glands in our pores.
To keep these discharges under control, “usual treatments include topical antifungal or anti-inflammatory creams or washes. Some alternative and homemade remedies may also provide relief,” suggests Dr. Brennon. Yet, if the DIY version is too time-consuming for your lifestyle, you can opt for Nuria’s Rescue Rebalancing Cleanser, a gentle purifying solution inspired by homemade Japanese skincare. Made with antioxidant-packed organics like Mandarin Orange, Seaweed, and Loquat, this cleanser gently tones and purifies your pores before exercise.
If you’re wearing makeup prior to your workout, be sure to cleanse your face twice in a row: once to remove your makeup and again for any leftover residue or dead skin. If you’ve got a foundation fixation or you’re thinking, “…but I never squat in public without mascara,” believe us when we say this habit is a no-no!
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), “It may not seem like a big deal, but sweat mixed in with makeup is much more damaging to skin, because your pores are "clogged" before the workout even begins. It’s better to wash your face with a gentle cleanser before picking up a dumbbell.” Then, for good measure, seal your pores with the Rescue Pore-Minimizing Toner. This formula contains Witch-Hazel and Horsetail to relieve inflammation, along with Tea Tree Oil and Rosemary to guard against the moisture-loving bacteria that cause acne.
How to care for your skin after exercise
Post-workout, our skin still requires our attention. Just as we’d stretch our muscles before and after our gym routine, we give our skin the same level of care—even if just a quickie recovery treatment.
Here are a couple must-dos to keep your skin in shape after exercise.
Cleanse your face post-workout
On a typical rest day, we wash our face twice, morning and night. But after exercise, our skin needs an extra wash down. If we don't cleanse after exercise, we’re letting all that sweat and sebum fester until bedtime, and by then, we're at a higher risk of a breakout or developing red, scaly skin due to yeast overgrowth.
According to the AAD, yeast thrive in warm, moist environments, so when yeast populates on our face, we experience irritation and flaking. That’s why after the gym or any fitness activity, we should never let sweat linger on our face—even more so when our workout is outdoors in the humidity and sun!
Rehydrate inside and out
We’ve heard it a million times: drink water! Like watering a plant to keep it bright, perky, and strong, our skin also needs to stay hydrated in the same manner. The American Council on Exercise recommends to “drink 8 ounces of water 30 minutes after exercise.” By replenishing your fluid intake, you’ll help support your skin’s smoothness and overall complexion.
After all, water is key to fueling the barrier function of skin, allowing each dermal cell to do its job. Ultimately, the goal is maintaining the right balance of moisture from sebum and hydration from water—the yin and yang of a healthy microbiome.
Benefits of exercise on skin health
A round of pushups and burpees over time will have amazing beauty gains for our skin! It’s no wonder those fitness models always look years younger.
Here are the leading long-term benefits that exercise offers our skin.
When our blood gets pumping, acne starts halting! According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Apple Bodemer, “Exercise itself is a good tool for combatting breakouts. Physical activity helps to even out blood sugar levels in the body, which are instrumental in managing acne.” Since this activity decreases androgens, the sebum-triggering hormone, we can help prevent blockage in our pores.
Improve dark under eye circles
We can pump pigment into our skin by sparking our circulation for brighter under eyes. According to dermatologist Ellen Marmur, MD, author of Simple Skin Beauty, “In addition to providing oxygen, blood flow also helps carry away waste products, including free radicals, from working cells.”
This detox process is triggered when our heart rate speeds up during exercise. As our entire body is invigorated with oxygen-rich blood, it helps reduce ashy-pale skin, puffiness and pigmentation.
Speed up cellular recovery
Just as our muscles take time to recover from exercise, our skin needs rest too. In a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers observed the overwhelming impact of sleep on skin quality. Since our bodies do most of its healing while we snooze, we rely on the metabolic-boosting effects of exercise to support this action.
During deep sleep, our bodies can absorb more nutrients for optimal skin barrier recovery. To give this process a leg up, Nuria’s Defend Overnight Recovery Cream uses time to its advantage to maximize nutrient absorption for our skin cells while we sleep.
The best things in life are free—especially when it comes to the trickle-down effects of sweat-intensive exercise! Whatever your motivator, be it a healthier mind or body, there are few activities in life more rewarding (inside and out) than good ol’ fashioned fitness.
About the author, Naomi Furgiuele
Naomi is the founder of Nuria and a self-professed nerd with a love for all things science and skin care. She’s had a hand in product development for some of the biggest global beauty brands in the business, gets some of her best ideas while out on a run, and loves her exfoliator almost as much as her awesome family.