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No matter where and when you do it, exercise is good not only for your body and mind, but for your skin too. There’s much to be said about working out hard and sweating; it imparts a glow, for one thing. Plus, according to Dr. Margarita Lolis, a New Jersey board certified dermatologist, “When exercising, we release toxins from our skin, opening up and clearing out our pores.” Good stuff, but it’s not all peaches and cream. You should care for your skin before, during and after exercise too. Notes Dr. Lolis, “If you miss one important step when it comes to exercising and skin, you’ll start to notice your skin going downhill.”

skincare and exercise
Me, fresh from a workout. No makeup but for a slick of lipgloss and, a rosy post-workout glow.

Uh oh. What does Dr. Lolis mean by that? A head-to-toe routine is a must, she says. Dr. Lolis found that those who work out several times per week seem to have similar skin issues. Her 14 Skincare Hacks for Gym Rats, below, are based on the common issues her own patients often face.

  1. Use disposable body wipes or medicated/herbal wet tissues right after a workout. This will help in removing excess oil from your skin.
  2. Always carry a small towel with you to wipe excess sweat.
  3. Avoid touching your face with bare hands to keep bacterial infections and acne at bay.
  4. Use a foot deodorizer to clean your feet after a heavy workout.
  5. Skip the tanning bed. It’s harmful to your skin in so many ways. There’s also the range of cosmetic skin concerns, like wrinkles and sun spots. Opt for a self-tanning lotion or simply working out outdoors with SPF to give you a natural glow.
  6. BYOT (Bring Your Own Towel!) If you opt for a gym washroom for a shower, be careful of the towels and cleansing products you use. Do not use towels already used by someone else. (Yuck, ed. note.) The sweat of other people can cause acne on your skin. Cleaning your skin should be hygienic.
  7. Wear fresh clothes after showering. Also, avoid wearing your worked-out-in gym clothes after washing yourself clean. They will be sweaty and grimy and may cause acne and other skin related problems.
  8. Avoid close contact. Other people’s sweat may also cause skin acne, pimples and other related problems. That hug to your trainer or gym buddy can end up triggering a breakout.
  9. Skip the hot water. Sure, your muscles are sore, and you’re in the mood for a hot shower after a workout. Hot water strips skin of vital oils, leaving you with dry, itchy, dull skin.
  10. Reduce the redness. Calm down a flushed face with your own redness control remedy made up of a little bit of iced green tea and a spray bottle. You’ll cool down your skin and add in a few extra anti-oxidants in the process.
  11. Rehydrate your skin.  After enduring a good workout and cleanse, it’s critical to re-establish the natural moisture and oils that have been removed from your skin.  When it comes to your face, invest in a high quality, fast-absorbing, nutrient-rich product that includes vitamins A and E and the super-ingredient, hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring compound that is expert at restoring moisture to your skin and has also been shown to stimulate collagen production. If you’ve been exercising outdoors, a moisturizer with anti-oxidant ingredients is important to help repair damage caused by UV exposure and other environmental factors.
  12. Go bare. Morning gym people: there’s no need to apply make-up. If you work out after work consider taking a face-wipe to remove dirt and make-up which may blend with sweat triggering breakouts. You want your skin to be able to breathe while you’re working out.
  13. Wear a hairband. Hair should always be pulled back from your face, not only because of sweat, but because of your hair products, too. If you are seeing breakouts on your forehead or hairline, mousses, gels, or other hair products could be to blame. An elastic headband worn behind the ears about an inch from the hairline keeps stray hairs off the face.
  14. Wear gloves when working out.  In addition to protecting hands from rough calluses, gloves also prevent the transmission of bacteria and viruses like warts and staphylococcus bacteria; which can cause impetigo. Impetigo is a common skin infection that can be easily transmitted at the gym and result in blisters and sores. If you choose not to wear gloves during a work-out, disinfect your equipment with a wipe or spray.

exercise and skincareAbout Dr. Lolis:

Dr. Margarita Lolis, M.D. is a board-certified cosmetic, medical dermatologist and a fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon with over 20 years of experience. In her practice, she addresses common skin concerns such as acne prevention and treatment in both teens and adults, sun-damage, skin discoloration, wrinkles, changes to skin texture and loss of volume. On the medical side, she is a trusted expert in melanoma and over-all skin health. Dr. Lolis is a member of the American Academy of Dermatology, American College of Mohs Surgery, and the American Society of Anti-aging. Her practice, Skin, Laser, and SurgerySpecialists is in New York City and Bergen Country, New Jersey.

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