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My Tips for Avoiding Breakouts While You’re Breaking a Sweat

Is there anything like the feeling of a good workout?



You feel healthy and strong.

You’re riding high on that lovely flood of endorphins.

You feel accomplished and proud of yourself for sticking to your goals and taking care of yourself (I see you, New Year’s resolution).

Many of us are doing ourselves some good and enjoying the benefits of a good sweat sesh regularly.

Surveys from New Beauty Magazine and Timex asked people about their workout habits.


Exercise is a great way to lift your mood, kick stress, and maintain good health.

But then…...the blemishes and breakouts.

While we’re busy busting a move and getting in great shape, our skin may not react as happily to our active lifestyle. Sweat, bacteria, and grime can cause our skin to break out if we don’t treat it right after a good workout.

Today, I’m going to share my tips to make sure your skin is clear and happy so it can stay healthy while you stay fit!

Did You Know Exercise is Good for Your Skin Too?

That’s right! When you get out and get moving, you’re not only helping your body, you’re contributing to a beautiful complexion too!

Get Your Glow On

Have you ever noticed that your skin has that natural glow when you work out? (And I’m not just talking about that sheen of perspiration from your awesome hard work!)

When you work out and get your heart pumping, you increase circulation and blood flow.



As Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson explains, “When we exercise, we boost circulation to our skin, increasing oxygen and nutrient delivery, which gives us that immediate post-exercise glow.”

Forgo those strobing tutorials and go for a brisk walk!

Helps Heal Skin

You know that circulation business I just mentioned? It helps heal skin too.

When you increase your skin’s ability to receive oxygen and nutrients, you help it recover from things like sun and free radical damage. You also boost healthy cell regeneration.

It’s suggested that exercise can actually help with skin concerns, such as acne, because it encourages skin to heal.

A study published by the Archives of Dermatology from Harvard Medical school found that good exercise cut the risk of women developing psoriasis by up to 25-30% compared to women who did little to no exercise.

Anti-aging Benefits

Not only does exercise make you look more youthful by virtue of the fact that you’ll appear happier and healthier, there’s actually science behind its anti-aging properties.

When you work out, it helps reduce cortisol, our natural stress hormone.



Cortisol throws an inflammation party in our bodies making things like eczema and skin irritations flare up.

This cortisol-induced inflammation also breaks down collagen, the protein responsible for keeping skin firm and plump to smooth out wrinkles.

Researchers at McMaster University in Ontario found that when they looked at skin samples of participants who exercised compared to those who don’t, the samples from active folks looked years younger.

When you do some cortisol-busting exercise, you help rid your body of inflammation and stress. Plus, it allows you to get better beauty sleep at night which helps your body recover so you’ll wake up looking daisy fresh!

Detoxifies Skin

When you get a good sweat from a workout, it’s like giving yourself a mini facial!

Sweating removes toxins and impurities from skin. Your pores open up and push out cloggers like bacteria and oil.

So if my skin is doing all this self-purifying, how come I still get blemishes after I exercise?

Good question, fair reader! I’m excited to share with you some of my best beauty hacks for keeping skin clean and clear while you’re getting strong and active.

My Top Tips to Avoid Workout Breakouts

Go Bare

Before you hit the gym or venture out for a run, wash off your makeup to remove any debris or potential blemish-causers.

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I know, working out in front of strangers can be intimidating enough without doing it bare-faced.

But, chances are you’re going to sweat it off anyway. And, you’ll be saving your pores from getting blocked up by any dirt, makeup or oil on your skin.

If you can’t get in a full face scrub before a workout, carry some cleansing wipes with you in your gym bag and do a few face swipes.

If the thought of going completely makeup-free is not in your comfort zone, consider just wearing a minimal amount - such as mascara and tinted lip balm - and skipping any pore cloggers like foundations or powders. Your skin will thank you!

Wear Sun Protection

I know you’re already using daily SPF protection! But it’s especially important when you’re heading outdoors for a workout.

If you find that regular sunscreens are fine for your body, but too heavy or greasy for your face, look for an oil-free formula or one that’s created especially to use on your face.

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I personally love mineral sunscreens rather than chemical ones. They use Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide minerals rather than chemicals to physically block out harmful UV rays. Plus, they’ll help you avoid that painful burn you get when sweat and sunscreen run into your eyes!

Remember to apply sunscreen 15 minutes before sun exposure, and reapply every 1-2 hours or more if you’re sweating a lot during a workout.

Also, rock a hat and sunglasses! This will shade your face from sun rays and cut down on your squint factor to keep those pesky crow’s feet from forming.

Take Care of Messy Hair

Your hair can accumulate lots of oil, dirt and pollutants throughout the day. Not to mention any residual styling products or heavy conditioners that might be lurking in your strands.



When you sweat, this residue can run down onto skin, and if you’re hair is hanging in your face, guess where it’s all going.

Keep your locks on lock down by pulling hair up and/or sporting a cute headband to keep your face grime-free.

No Touching!

While it’s tempting to use your hands to wipe away sweat during a workout, you could be transferring dirt and bacteria to your skin which can lead to breakouts.

Your pores are more open while you’re hot and sweaty, making them more susceptible to infection and blemishes.

Especially if you’re using communal gym equipment!

Experts recommend bringing a small face towel to gently blot sweat away and a separate towel to wipe down gym equipment before and after you use it.

Wear the Right Clothing

Make sure your workout wardrobe includes clothing that is breathable and not too tight.



When you wear super tight or non-breathable fabrics, they can cause friction and irritation as well as trap sweat, bacteria and oil against the skin leading to breakouts.

Believe me, I realize workout clothes are tight to keep everything in place while we’re kicking booty and turning ourselves upside down for headstands.

Just make sure your skin can breathe so you can avoid stuff like sports bra strap bacne.

Don’t Wait to Wash Up

Once you’re finished up with your workout session, don’t wait to clean up and remove those sweaty clothes so as not to host a bacteria party (they thrive in warm, moist environments).



Hit the showers and use a gentle cleanser on face and body. It’s also a good idea to exfoliate 2-3 times a week to ensure you’re removing any dead skin or impurities that can plug up pores on your face, chest and back.

Plus, post-workout showers are some of the best showers, amaright?

If a shower isn’t in the cards, at the very least use some cleansing wipes to do a quick wipedown, or a cotton round with a few drops of a clarifying toner or micellar water on your face to remove residue and refresh skin.

Restore Moisture

Once you’re all squeaky clean, follow up with a good, lightweight moisturizer.

Sweating, exercising outdoors, and swimming can all strip skin of natural moisture. Dry skin makes fine lines look more apparent, and it can cause your skin to go into oil production overdrive in an attempt to re-moisturize itself leading to breakouts.

Apply a good, restoring moisturizer to your face and body after to you wash up to hydrate skin.

Also, obviously, make sure you’re rehydrating from the inside by drinking plenty of H20!

Those are my top skincare tips you can practice to keep skin clear. Here are some of my favorite formulas to add to your skincare routine to keep skin healthy and maintain that post-workout glow!

Alana Mitchell Foaming Pumpkin Cleanser

Wash up before and after a good workout with my gentle foaming pumpkin cleanser. This formula includes pumpkin seed oil to nourish skin, brighten your complexion and minimize pores. Plus, it's pack with great beneficial ingredients to soothe inflammation and irritation and boost skin with anti-aging properties. Skin is left clean, refreshed and refined!

Eminence Organics Citrus Exfoliating Wash

Wash away all those potential pore cloggers with this citrus exfoliating wash that features lime juice to purify skin and minimize pores. Buff away dirt and impurities to brighten skin and encourage new cell turnover while locking in moisture. This wash is a great workout follow-up to scrub up and stay glowing!

derm wipes

Dermalogica Pre Cleanse Wipes

Throw these handy wipes in your gym bag to wipe down before or after a sweat sesh and save your skin. These wipes dissolve oil and dirt and remove makeup and sunscreen for clean, pure skin. Plus, essential fatty acids protect skin by strengthening its moisture barrier. One quick swipe, and you're good to go!


Dermaquest Youth Protection SPF 30

Heading outside to commune with nature while you exercise? (Good for you!) Don't forget your sun protection. This physical SPF protection uses zinc oxide and titanium dioxide minerals, instead of harsh chemicals, to block out harmful UVA and UVB rays. It also contains moisturizing, healing and anti-aging properties, so it not only protects against sun damage, it helps skin repair any damage that's already been done!


Image SkinCare Clear Cell Salicylic Gel Cleanser

Use this cleanser to banish post-workout breakouts. This formula contains salicylic acid to give pores a deep clean and remove acne-causing excess oils. It also gently exfoliates to get rid of pore blockers, all while infusing skin with antioxidants and vitamins to help nourish and heal skin.

Skin Script Clarifying Toner Pads

These little pads are perfect for on-the-go cleansing! They contain 2% of both glycolic and salicylic acids to gently exfoliate and remove dead skin as well as dissolve excess oils to keep pores clean and clear. They also help smooth fine lines, heal skin to recover from blemishes, and neutralize bacteria to prevent future breakouts. Keep these on hand for a quick and easy skin refresher!

Rhonda Allison Face Creams - Aloe Matte Moisture

This moisturizer's super power is balancing skin's moisture to hydrate while controlling shine by eliminating excess oils. This lightweight formula also provides antioxidants and healing benefits to support healthy skin. Round out your post-workout skincare with this moisturizer for a beautiful, balanced complexion!

Final Thoughts

Exercise has offers so many benefits to our mental and physical health! It’s a great way to shake off stress, focus our minds, and it does your body good.

But, it’s also great for our skin! Just make sure you’re following up your heart-pumping workout sessions with a regular skincare session, and you’re good to go!

What are your best tips for post-workout skincare? Share your gym bag must-haves with us in the comments section!

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