Do You Really Release Toxins When You Sweat?
In this series, we take common beauty questions, of which we’ve heard about 23,464 conflicting answers to over the years, and myth-bust ‘em once and for all.
Maybe you’re hungover and you’re convinced a 45-minute run on the treadmill will help you sweat all the toxins from last night’s shenanigans, or perhaps you’re not swiping on the deoderant at the gym because you want your body to get rid of unwanted substances through perspiration. Soaking a tee during spin must be good for something, right?
Either way, you’re probably familiar with the supposed idea that sweating is not only a form of cooling your body down, but something that helps detoxify the body. But is that true? Does getting clammy, whether you’re wearing deodorant or not, kick toxins to the curb?
According to Dr. Joshua Zeichner, dermatologist and the Director of Cosmetic & Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, there are other superstar organs in the body responsible for that duty.
"The only true detoxifying organs in our bodies are our livers and kidneys,” he explains when we asked if sweating was a form of toxin relief. "It is true that dirt, oil, and particulate matter from pollution that may accumulate around the sweat glands and may be released from when you sweat. However they do not truly detoxify the body,” he says.
So wearing an antiperspirant is just attempting to stop you from sweating. Keyword: attempting. "Antiperspirants work by forming a plug within your sweat gland, preventing sweat from reaching the surface,” explains Dr. Zeichner. "The reason that we sweat is that the body needs to regulate its core temperature. As sweat evaporates from the surface of the skin, it helps keep us cool. Continuing to wear an antiperspirants under the arms may partially blocked sweat in those areas, however, your body will compensate by sweating in other areas such as the face, the chest, and the back.”
And Dr. Zeichner further explains that depending on the intensity of your activity, you might still sweat under your arms because the action could overpower the product formula. And if you’re worried about the safety of aluminum blocking your sweat, Dr. Zeichner also says there isn’t substantial data that shows it’s harmful.
The one thing you should be mindful of after a good sweat sesh? Taking a shower soon-thereafter. "It is important to shower after the gym to help remove sweat dirt and oil that accumulate on the skin surface so that they do not lead to skin irritation, inflammation, or acne,” our pro says. "There is data showing that pollution that accumulates on the skin may lead to inflammation and free radical damage that cause premature aging, so appropriate washing is important.”
We love Dove’s Moisturizing Body Wash ($6; target.com) after exercising because it doesn’t strip your skin, but if you need to remove oil from your skin, Dr. Zeichner suggests something with a salicylic acid.