Skin Care For The Gym

If you know me, you know fitness is a huge part of my lifestyle. I’m always talking about how working out is great for your mental and physical health. But what about your skin? Does working out make it worse? How do we tie in our skin care regimen around our workout schedule? With my ties to 1st Phorm, I treat a lot of fitness enthusiasts and athletes and I get a ton of questions on this topic!

Don’t Avoid The Gym

If you work out a lot, chances are you sweat a lot. Maybe you go to the gym and touch equipment. Then there’s the inevitability of touching your face, potentially spreading germs and bacteria (and maybe other people’s sweat) onto your own skin and into your pores. Other factors, like your own hair and even your towel choice, can affect whether you experience breakouts or dryness.

Going to the gym will not destroy your skin so you absolutely don’t have to and should not avoid it. Working out should be part of everyone’s life and it is healthy for the skin to sweat, we just have to know the right way to care for it before and after. There are a few things to keep in mind if you love getting your regular sweat sessions in but also want to keep your complexion clear and healthy. 

Sweaty Skin Care Tips

Here are my best skin care tips for people who love to exercise!

Skip the makeup when possible

It is always best to workout with a clean face when at all possible. When your body heats up during a workout your pores open and you don’t want makeup settling back into those pores. When you workout, we want your skin to be able to breathe! If you are working out on midday or on your lunch break, it is optimal if you can do a quick cleanse and remove makeup with a gentle cleanser before you workout. You do not need to apply any other products at this time. I would suggest you cleanse, workout, and then we can apply skincare and makeup if applicable afterwards.

If you are someone who is not comfortable going to the gym with a completely bare face, I would suggest using non comedogenic makeup or my favorite, a tinted moisturizer to give you some nice coverage. I recommend the Elta MD UV Daily 40 for normal to dry skin, and the Elta MD UV Clear 46 for more oily and acne skin types. Both of these come in tinted and non tinted, but the tinted is a great choice for those who do want to throw something on before hitting the gym.

I typically workout first thing in the AM. I do not typically wash my face before I workout because I did my skincare routine right before bed and my skin is still clean. I workout and then cleanse and perform my morning routine after the workout. 

Regardless of whether or not you wore makeup during your workout, one thing is for sure and this brings me to my next tip….

Always cleanse your skin post workout

It is so important to gently cleanse your skin after a workout. Your skin acquires sweat residue and bacteria during a workout, so whether or not you wear makeup during your workout you need to cleanse your skin clean afterwards. A nice gentle cleanse with cool water will also help to cool the skin and reduce heat and redness post workout. I recommend our RFA Gentle Foaming Cleanser or Cream cleanser, or if you want to use a drugstore brand I recommend Cetaphil, CeraVe, or Vaniwash gentle cleansers. These are all very gentle and safe for all skin types. After you cleanse, I recommend moisturizer and then you can reapply makeup if needed.

Post workout Peel Pads or Toner

Another way to clean the skin post workout is by using a toner or my personal favorite, a peel pad like our Daily Balancing Pads. You would use this after your gentle cleanse. The Daily Balancing Pads contain salicylic acid, which is a key ingredient for unclogging pores and wiping away excess dirt or oils. Salicyclic acid wipes are great peeling agents that really remove that outer layer of excess makeup, sweat, and bacteria.  I recommend keeping these in your gym bag. If you are able to wash your face immediately, then you would cleanse first and then use the wipe. If you don’t have access to wash your face until you get home or for at least 30 mins to an hour, then I would go ahead and use a peel pad immediately post workout. I recommend rubbing the pad all over the face and bringing it down to the neck and chest (make sure you get that sweaty area in between the boobs!). You could even have someone help you rub this pad on your back if you are someone dealing with “backne.” 

Avid Exerciser Musts

If you are an avid exerciser and you deal with acne these are a must.

  1. Bring your own gym towel

There is such a thing as the perfect gym towel. If you sweat a lot, this one is a must. Yes, some gyms do provide towels but we can’t be sure they are clean or that your skin won’t react to the type of detergent they use. I don’t recommend a super fluffy type towel because those tend to hold on to bacteria more easily. Instead, I recommend a medium thickness towel without a ton of nooks and crannies that can hold bacteria. I recommend cleaning your gym towel after every workout sesh.

  1. Keeping hair clean and off of the face

I recommend keeping your hair pulled back and off of the face during a workout. Our hair is full of oils and hair products and when we sweat that sticks to our skin. Keeping your hair pulled back will help keep those extra oils off of the face. If you do sweat a lot and are more acne prone, I highly recommend shampooing and washing your hair afterwards. A lot of times the extra sweat from the scalp can make its way to the hairline and cause acne. This is also a good time to remind you to wash your pillowcase at least once per week and make sure to flip your pillow over half way through the week. A clean pillow case is also very important when it comes to keeping our skin clean.

  1. Do not touch or pick at your face!

I say this one a lot. This applies to everyday skincare, but especially when we are talking about gym and fitness. The gym is full of sweat, debris, and bacteria. If you are touching a workout machine or weights and then touching your face, you are spreading bacteria to your skin. Try your best to create a habit of not touching your face during a workout. Once you finish, immediately wash your hands, and then cleanse your skin and/or apply your Daily Balancing Pad to clean your skin.

  1. Calm Inflamed, Red Skin

If you are someone who gets extremely red or flushed post workout I have a little trick for you…suck on an ice cube post workout! The nerve endings in the hard palate (the upper part of your mouth) directly affect the blood vessels in your face – the cold from the ice cube sends a message through the nerve endings that the vessels in your face need to constrict, thus decreasing the redness. Another trick is to keep a couple of spoons in your freezer, and you can also hold those under the eyes or on any painful blemishes to help calm them down or reduce swelling.

Now, go get your sweat on and keep these fitness focused skin care tips in mind!



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2 thoughts on “Skin Care For The Gym”

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Racquel Frisella

Board Certified Nurse Practitioner & Aesthetic Specialist based in Saint Louis, Missouri

I work as a cosmetic injector and skincare specialist with 12 years of experience in the Aesthetic Industry. I see patients both in-office at Racquel Aesthetics for treatments as well as online for customized, complimentary skincare plans. I focus heavily on preventative and corrective injections, treatments, and skincare.  My career is my passion and I love to help people feel like the very best version of themselves. I am a wife and a mother of 3 beautiful children under the age of 3. I love all things beauty, fashion, and fitness. I am creating this site as a place to share my expertise on beauty, anti-aging, and skin while also giving a glimpse into my lifestyle as a mom, wife and lover of fitness!  


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