5 ways your workout could be killing your skin

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Working out is great for you and your body. Exercising keeps us young and fit, but it can affect your skin negatively.

Deputy editor for Allure Magazine, Sophie Panych has five ways working out is killing your skin and how you can save it.


The issue: The accumulation of sweat, oil, dirt and plain old gym grime can promote breakouts, especially around your chest, face, and back — but there are simple ways to keep blemishes at bay.

Quick fix: Cleanse quickly. Cleansing the skin immediately after working out is the most effective way to prevent breakouts. Moisture combined with dirt and sweat gets trapped in pores creating the perfect breeding ground for inflammation and acne-causing bacteria — so the faster you rinse, off the better. If you can’t take a shower, opt for cleansing wipes, which will do wonders in a pinch. Another rule: never wear makeup while working out since sweat has an easier time exiting pores on a makeup-free face.

  • Olay Fresh Effects Everything Off Deluxe Makeup Removal Wet Cloths, $5.99, drugstore.com.
  • Simple Micellar Make-Up Remover Wipes, $5.96, amazon.com.


The issue: You're not wearing the right thing. Some T-shirts (especially those made of cotton) will get wet and thick with sweat, which promotes acne. Also, leaving your sweaty clothes on long after a workout won’t do your skin any favors.

Quick fix: Wear breathable clothing. Some of the newer, more advanced fabrics used in workout clothing really help wick sweat away from your skin. Also, using a gentle body wash in the shower that contains acne-fighting salicylic acid will help keep your trouble spots under control.

  • Nike Dri-FIT Knit tank, $65
  • Dial Acne Control body wash, $4.99

Sun Damage:

The issue: Whether you're outside or indoors, you're exposed to UV rays and even running on a treadmill by a window at the gym doesn't put you out of harm's way. From premature aging to melanoma, the risks of sun damage can be severe.

Quick fix: Apply (and reapply) sunscreen. There are several sport sunscreen lotions, gels, sprays, and sticks that don't drip but can endure the most intense activity. Put it everywhere the sun may hit, not just your face, and reapply multiple times throughout the day to ensure you’re covered. And opt for a lightweight or oil-free formula as oily sunscreen can cause acne by clogging pores.

  • Neutrogena CoolDry Sport Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30, $6.31, amazon.com.Creating a breathable barrier on skin, it allows sweat to pass through the sunscreen and evaporate, so your skin can actually feel cool as you sweat.”
  • Coppertone SPORT Continuous Sunscreen Spray, $7.99, drugstore.com


The issue: Running ranks as one of the best ways to get fit and burn off extra calories but it may do little to preserve a youthful complexion. People worry that the wear and tear from jogging can break down collagen and make skin saggy.

Quick fix: It may or may not promote premature aging — the bottom line is that it’s unclear. If you're really concerned about aging skin, a low-impact activity might be a better option. Also, applying an anti-aging day cream post-workout that covers your face, neck and chest may help counteract any damage done.

  • RoC Multi Correxion 5 in 1 Chest, Neck & Face Cream: Anti-aging Day Cream. $27.99


The issue: Not to be gross, but chafing and irritation is caused by chronic rubbing of your skin, whether that's skin on skin or clothing on skin. The area can get raw, red and irritated and leave you with a nasty stinging or burning sensation.

Quick fix: Moisturizers, ointments, Vaseline, or Aquaphor can be applied to your skin beforehand so there's glide and no rubbing. This provides an extra layer of protection, hydration, and healing compared to standard moisturizers. Also, avoid loose clothing. The constant moving and rubbing of the material can irritate skin until it’s raw. Opting for a snug fit will do wonders for your skin.

  • Vaseline 100% Pure Petroleum Jelly, $3.99, amazon.com.
  • Aquaphor Healing Ointment, $12.74, amazon.com.
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