August 19, 2019Exercise and Your Skin

Is Your Workout Triggering Your Acne?

I get so many questions about acne, and this is one of the most frequently asked questions! It’s so popular, it gets its own post.

First, I want to explain how exercise benefits your skin! When we exercise, we increase the blood flow to our skin, nourishing our skin with vital nutrients and oxygen.  Not only does exercise improve your skin’s metabolism, but it is also scientifically proven that you can even begin to reverse the signs of visible aging by working out! Based on recent evidence, not only do people who exercise feel younger, they look younger as well! Incredibly, this is true even if you don’t start working out until later in life.

Now, let’s dive into the relationship between exercise and your breakouts. Working out in makeup can certainly contribute to a breakout. While sweating during a workout boosts our circulation, which is beneficial for our skin’s health and glow, our sweat contains ammonia and urea — so if we leave sweat on our skin for too long, this can cause irritation and inflammation, which can trigger breakouts.

For this reason, I always try to work out in clean skin, rather than wearing makeup to workout, because my skin can be acne prone.

Breakouts caused by exercise generally result from the dirt, sweat, and makeup that we have on our skin while we work out. The type of exercise is less relevant than whether you break a sweat and whether you begin your exercise routine with a clean face and end by gently cleansing your face.

How should you take care of your skin when working out? As I explain in my book, Dirty Looks, gentle cleansing is so much more powerful and healthy for your skin than all of that scrubbing we tend to love! I recommend that my patients use a pH balanced, gentle cleanser and pat dry. Follow with your typical serum, moisturizer, and of course, sunscreen. Also, I recommend that my patients either work out with clean skin or with breathable, lightweight, and/or oil-free products to minimize post-workout breakouts.

Dr. Whitney