These are the steps you need to take to stop your gym sessions from causing spots

Do you diligently cleanse your skin post-workout, but still end up with spots? Dealing with the sweaty side effects of a fitness routine gets pretty annoying. But don’t throw in the gym towel just yet— preventing a post-exercise breakout is a logical, step-by-step process. Here is how to fend off blemishes while still staying committed to the gym. 

Before a workout

Firstly, cleanse the skin to remove any makeup or dirt. When you sweat, your pores naturally open up. If you exercise with makeup on, it stops the pores from doing their job and flushing out impurities. This can result in small red bumps known as acne cosmetica to form on the surface of the skin. Ingredients in makeup clog the pores, worsening inflammation and increasing the duration of a breakout. So, wearing makeup in the gym will make your spots larger, more painful and last longer, so it’s definitely a habit to quit. Remember — no one cares if you’re makeup-free in the gym, they’re worried about their own red cheeks and sweaty brows. 

Did you ever think about how the hair products you use could be affecting your skin? Pharmacist at McCabes Pharmacy Lisa Byrne explains that our the products we use in our hair can be the cause of spots. Sure, applying them in normal circumstances won’t affect your face. But if you’ve a head full of hairspray before you head to a sweaty TRX class, that product will definitely end up dripping down onto your face. It may seem like a no brainer, but be sure to tie back long hair too to prevent oil and pollutants that have built up during the day from coming into contact with your skin. 

Wipe down the equipment before you start. Research has suggested that free weights at a gym can carry over 300 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. 

woman in black top pulling rope

Going for a run outside? Make sure to apply a waterproof sunscreen, Dr Naomi Mackle, medical director of the Adare Clinic advises. “Runners age prematurely and a lot of this is from not wearing sunscreen or an appropriate one. A vitamin C serum can also help to boost the sunscreen.” It helps to wear a hat and sunglasses too. 

While exercising

Stay hydrated, as dehydrated skin can feel sensitive, tight and dull. You could also be more prone to chafing if dehydrated. Make sure that sensitive areas at risk skin-to-skin contact like the inner thighs are covered with petroleum jelly to prevent chafing. 

Don’t be tempted to wipe away sweat with your hand, as you can transfer bacteria and cause spots. Use a clean towel to gently pat the skin. If you have acne or sensitive skin, make sure any towels are cleaned with fragrance-free detergent. 

After a workout

Don’t be tempted to stay in your gym clothes afterwards. Cleanse immediately with a glycolic or salicylic acid cleanser on acne-prone areas.

Super Facialist Salicylic Acid Purifying Cleansing Wash, €10.99

Use an oil-free moisturiser and sunscreen. Mineralised sunscreens work best for acne-prone skin. 

Clinique Mineral Sunscreen, €22

If you have acne or rosacea, your skin might not be able to tolerate acid cleansers. If so, cleanse with water and apply a 20% vitamin C serum, vitamin B5 gel after a shower, Naomi advises. 

Reform Vitamin C 20, €69.99

Sensitive skin

Existing skin conditions can be aggravated by a workout. Hot yoga or high intensity training can aggravate the flushing associated with sensitive skin and rosacea, and can exacerbate eczema. 

Using a cooling spray, drinking lots of water and exercising where there are fans and air conditioning can help. 

Avéne Thermal Water Spray, €8.99

Swimming can help to cool the skin, but the chlorine dries out the skin, aggravating eczema. Applying a moisturiser an hour before can help skin to stay hydrated and act as a barrier. If you’ve got acne, you may find the chlorine helps, thanks to its antibacterial properties.