Can Your Workout Give You Acne—Even If You’re Not Wearing Makeup?
If your typical Saturday includes a morning spin class followed by an afternoon of running errands, your weekend routine could be the reason you've been breaking out more than usual.
While closet-sized locker rooms at boutique fitness studios make it more convenient to just leave your sweaty top, sports bra, and leggings on, not changing can actually wreak havoc on your complexion.
"Staying in sweaty gym clothes can cause body breakouts," says dermatologist Dr. Shari Marchbein. "Dermatologists recommend changing out of workout clothes immediately after exercising and showering right away (I like using a medicated antibacterial acne wash with benzoyl peroxide to treat existing acne and prevent new breakouts)."
If switching outfits after your final stretch isn't possible, use a wipe to quickly cleanse your skin. Recess' BODY 101: Deodorant Wipes ($26; myrecess.co) are aluminum-free, biodegradable cloths that remove odor and sweat while nourishing skin.
"Breaking out on your chest and back (and for many who run, spin and do yoga, buttocks as well), can be both from sweating as well as from leaving on sweaty clothes which trap oil, dirt and bacteria," Marchbein says. Treat body acne with an over-the-counter wash like PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash ($10; target.com) which has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory benzoyl peroxide, or one with salicylic acid.
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You've probably been told that wearing makeup to work out isn't a good idea because it can clog pores, but even if you head to the gym with a clean face, you're still at risk of breaking out if you don't wash it right away after your workout.
"When you exercise, the blood vessels in the skin dilate (or open wider), allowing more blood to reach the skin's surface, helping with free radical damage and improving collagen formation," explains Machbein. "The pores also open, which allows for dirt and oil to be pushed from the skin. This is why it is so important to wash your face both before and right after exercising so that the pores don't get clogged again and that acne doesn’t form."
She recommends at least cleansing your face with a gentle wipe such as Simple Kind to Skin Micellar Makeup Remover Wipes ($5; target.com) to remove sweat. When you do have time to shower, make sure you apply a gentle, hydrating facial and body moisturizer with SPF once you've dried off.
Now you know what you should pack in your gym bag if you're not taking a clean set of clothes with you.