The Ultimate Post-Workout Skincare Routine, According to Dermatologists

The Ultimate Post-Workout Skincare Routine, According to Dermatologists

The Ultimate Post-Workout Skincare Routine, According to Dermatologists

Some of us are all about getting up early to squeeze a workout in, while others prefer an evening sweat session. Either way, one thing that needs to happen no matter what time you hit the gym is your post-workout skincare routine.

“Exercising can cause sweating, which can lead to clogged pores, acne, or folliculitis breakouts,” board-certified dermatologist Joyce Park says. “Chafing of skin against tight workout clothing can also lead to irritation and even ingrown hairs. Additionally, gyms and workout environments can harbor bacteria that can transfer to your skin, potentially causing infections or breakouts.”

With this information in mind, experts agree that it is important to thoroughly cleanse and moisturize your skin after each workout. Here's exactly what your post-workout skincare routine should look like, according to dermatologists.

Wash Your Face

The first step in your post-workout skincare routine should always be a nice, gentle cleanse to remove all the sweat and oil. “Cleansing the skin is important post-workout as debris, oil, and bacteria are left on the skin and pores are open, which can lead to breakouts,” Dr. Lombardi says. “Blood flow to the skin is increased, and it may be more sensitive than usual, so using a gentle cleanser is a good idea at this time.”

If you’re up for it, Park suggests doing a double cleanse, which means you’ll start with an oil-based cleanser and then follow up with a water-based cleanser. “I am a fan of cleansing oils or a cleansing balm [as your first step],” Dr. Park says.

If you're on the go and don't have time to wash your face, you should use a wipe. Park recommends using facial wipes with micellar water infused in them, as they are soothing on the skin.

Exfoliate Your Face

After cleansing, Dr. Park suggests using a gentle exfoliant on your face. “Exfoliating is essential after working out as your skin is prone to clogged pores from sweat and dirt clinging to your skin surface,” she says.

Exfoliants are available in various formats—like a liquid, serum, pads, or mask—so it’s all a matter of preference when selecting one. Look for formulas with ingredients like alpha hydroxy acid, beta hydroxy acid, salicylic acid, or glycolic acid.

Exfoliate Your Body

After sweating from head to toe, it’s important to exfoliate below the neck as well. According to Dr. Park, start by using an exfoliating body wash, “which helps to exfoliate and moisturize at the same time.” Dr. Park is a fan of formulas that contain ingredients like retinol or salicylic acid. You can also amp up the skin-smoothing benefits by using an exfoliating mitt while showering.

Hydrate and Moisturize

There’s a good chance your skin may be a bit dehydrated post-workout, so it’s essential to rehydrate it. “Replenishing the skin with vitamins and nutrients that help to reduce redness and rehydrate is important,” Dr. Lombardi says.

She recommends starting with a hydrating and calming skin mist and suggests products with hyaluronic acid, green tea, rose water, or witch hazel. “During this time, using a mist is refreshing and an effective way to restore moisture and apply nutrients.”

After applying your facial spray, you should slather on a lightweight moisturizer to boost your skin's moisture levels further. Additionally, Dr. Lombardi suggests drinking plenty of fluids to restore internal hydration.

Apply Sunscreen

Applying sunscreen to protect your skin from UV rays is important, especially when using exfoliating products. “Two to three finger lengths of sunscreen is enough for your face and neck, and make sure to reapply every two hours,” Dr. Park says.

Remember that post-workout isn't the only time to apply sunscreen: "If your workout is outdoors, make sure to use sunscreen prior to working out to prevent harmful UV exposure," Dr. Park says.

The Final Takeaway

After a sweaty workout, our experts recommend completing your skincare routine immediately afterward. "Hit the shower as soon as possible," Dr Park says. "You do not want to lounge around in your sweaty clothes or with sweat and other impurities sticking to your skin. This can increase the likelihood of breakouts."

While dermatologists generally recommend cleansing, exfoliating, moisturizing, and applying sunscreen after exercising, your routine may need to be tweaked depending on your skin type. "Your skincare routine may be different if you have pre-existing skin conditions, but cleansing and hydration are the most important steps across the board after a workout," Dr. Levine says.

As always, if you have questions or concerns, it's a good idea to consult a dermatologist for guidance to ensure you're properly caring for your skin after working out.


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