Keep Lean AND Clean: Pre- and Post-Workout Skin Tips
Exercise can give you great skin--that is, if you know how to treat it right. I know that after I workout, the flushed color of blood pooling into my face gives me a glowing, confident, and energetic appearance (minus those 90-degree days where I look more like a bright-red beet). But as with anything, there are downsides. I'm certain I am not alone when I say exercise took part in the acne that flared up on my face throughout high school.
Skin sufferers, do not despair; I am a puberty-and-sweat-induced acne survivor. Sitting around for an hour or two after track practice before taking a shower didn't help matters, but there are other strategies besides the simple shower I could have incorporated to keep my skin feeling and looking fresh.
Many of us may cringe at the call for sweat--especially those who have endured bouts of acne or irritated skin over the years. Is the exercise really worth the skin suffering? Is there more to sweat than just a way for our bodies to cool off? Sweat helps to flush out toxins from your body. So yes, exercise and sweat will actually help your skin--if you take the right steps to aid your skin in the detoxification process.
As much as you may dream of bounding on the treadmill with your hair flowing in the breeze of the giant fans, let's keep it in perspective: You're more likely to be sweating up a storm with all that "flowing" hair sticking to your face and neck. Pull up your hair into a ponytail or bun and use Goody headbands to not only avoid wet, sweaty hair latching onto your skin, but to keep away the pore-clogging chemicals like hairspray and other hair products.
And then there's the makeup and earrings. Believe me, I've seen my fair share of hoop earrings and faces painted with makeup on the elliptical. Let's stick to the basics here, though: If you want healthier skin, it's best to go with a clean face. If you do decide to wear make-up (as in the case of dancers who perform with make-up on), make sure you wear water-proof eyeliner and mascara, and leave the foundation at home. If you're swinging by the gym after work, pack makeup wipes to clean the face before hopping on that treadmill.
Heading outdoors? Opt for sunscreen if you'll be outside for more than fifteen minutes. I prefer non-oily sunscreen like Neutrogena. I just discovered the "SPF brush" too, which supposedly takes away the "glistening" factor when you apply it on the skin. Sunglasses or a hat are great choices as well to avoid squinting (and thus, future wrinkles).
During the Workout
Avoid touching your face, especially if you've been touching any equipment at the gym. You can carry around a small clean towel to wipe whenever needed. Also, be sure to keep a waterbottle with you, and drink throughout the workout. The water will help your skin flush out the toxins.
Who knows what our skin has to face outside that is not visible to the naked eye: specks of dust, the penetrating rays of the sun, microscopic specs of trash and debris... When you're dealing with the largest organ in your body, you know you've got some self-maintenance ahead of you after the workout. The skin does a darn good job of protecting you from the elements in our environment, so it's time to give our skin a little more lovin'!
Cleansing pads will come in handy since the soap from the dispensers at your local gym may just irritate the skin more. Make sure to gently wipe acne-prone areas like the face, chest, and back (if you can reach it). Other key areas include parts of the body that may have been covered with a hat or headband. Keep the shower water cool to avoid drying out the skin and stripping it of its natural detoxifying oils. Need more D? Word's out that the vitamin D you soak up outside takes about 48 hours for your body to absorb, so you can avoid soaping up the arms and legs to let the vitamin soak in completely. A dab of moisturizing lotion afterward can keep your skin feeling fresh and smooth.
Go the Extra Mile
Not on the treadmill but by taking a step into the steam room to finish the detoxifying process. Replenish with more water to continue the detoxifying process, and leave knowing that not only your body, but your skin, is healthier for what you've done for it.
Maybe with a boost of happy, glowing skin you will be bounding on that treadmill with all the energy in the world.