Doing This One Thing Post-Workout Has Totally Changed My Skin

mbg Associate Movement & Wellness Editor By Ray Bass, NASM-CPT
mbg Associate Movement & Wellness Editor

Ray Bass is the associate movement and wellness editor at mindbodygreen and a NASM-Certified Personal Trainer. She holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Pennsylvania, with honors in nonfiction.

Image by Jacob Lund / Stocksy

Sometimes we don’t realize how important our habits are until they become so ingrained in us that we don’t know how we ever got by without them. That’s how I feel about washing my face. Like most teens of my time, I went from having unmarred skin to a sea of red moguls in what felt like the time it took to finish an episode of Full House. Zero to acne, if you will.

Since then, I've learned a few tricks that have helped keep my skin clear (or at least clearer—some days are better than others). But given how active I am, one tip stands out as having helped the most: develop a post-workout skin care routine.

Why washing your face post-workout matters—a lot.

I've always been active and, truthfully, I never washed my face until I got home at the end of the day—that is, until it became clear that there was a direct correlation between how long I left sweat on my skin and the intensity of the breakouts I'd have later on. Now it seems so obvious; my face was dirty, and my pores were clogged. I didn’t know, as Jill Javehery, M.D. says, that post-workout care is crucial to clear, healthy skin.

Fortunately, I’ve developed a post-workout skin care routine—and thus far, it’s proven to work in my (and my skin’s) favor.

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Here’s what my routine looks like.

Nowadays, regardless of the activity I do, I bring a small arsenal of skin care products with me. Before I work out, I make sure to take off any makeup or skin product I have on. This ensures that when I sweat, I’m not driving lotion or oils deeper into my pores.

“Try to clean off makeup before exercise, especially if it contains silicones, which can clog up your pores as you sweat,” says integrative dermatologist Cybele Fishman. “I don’t use any skin care products with silicones, as I feel like my skin can’t breathe."

Fishman also recommends keeping your hair off your face as much as possible, either with a hair tie or headband, especially if you have any sort of hair product in.

After my workout, depending if it’s in the morning or at night, I either shower or wash my face immediately in the locker room. I don’t use anything abrasive right away, because my skin is usually red post-workout (which means I’m dealing with some post-workout inflammation), and I don’t want to irritate it in any way.

Right now I’m using the Charcoal Detox Gel Cleanser from NOW Solutions, $9.99, because it’s a super gentle cleanser that doesn’t dry out my skin. Next, I use a toner, like the Cocokind Raspberry Vinegar Toner, $16, which is particularly helpful for acne-prone skin. Last, I apply some form of moisturizer, whether that’s an oil, spray, or gel like Mad Hippie Antioxidant Oil, $24.99, if my skin feels dehydrated, and finish it all off with the NOW Solutions Rosewater Rejuvenating Mist, $5.59, which smells amazing.

Taking care of my skin post-workout has been a real game-changer for me. I leave the gym or studio feeling lighter, cleaner, and like I did something that I’ll thank myself for later. Sometimes the most obvious solutions are the ones we need the most—and sometimes (for me) self-care can be as simple as skin care.

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