How To Protect Your Skin Before, During And After Exercise

How To Protect Your Skin Before, During And After Exercise

Wellness is a circular economy for the body. Nurture one part of your body and another part will reap benefits also. Almost every good action you take to improve your health will have a domino effect. One of the singular best things you can do for your health is to exercise, whether that exercise is moderate or intense. As long as you remain within the parameters of what your body is capable of and avoid extreme exercise routines, regular movement has enormous benefits. As well as many for the skin.

Yes, apart from increasing your fitness and building strength in your muscles, bones and organs, exercise can improve the appearance and resilience of your skin.

When we elevate our heart rate, blood and oxygen are pumped around the body and this breathes life into our cells. Although it may not feel like it when we’re actually exercising, overall, regular exercise reduces stress and helps us to sleep better. Improved mental wellbeing helps the whole body to function at a higher level and this includes the skin’s ability to regenerate, repair and thrive.

However, due to sweating and the rise and fall in the body's temperature during a workout, exercise can irritate the skin resulting in breakouts, particularly for those who are acne-prone or prone to rosacea. But, this must not be a barrier to exercise.

Here are a few things you can do to protect your skin before, during and after exercise:

Don’t Apply Face Cream Before A Workout

Good face creams should not clog your pores but they will be designed to provide a barrier around your skin. This seeks to protect your skin from harsh conditions and provide a better enclosed environment for cells to do their job. However, when you exercise you'll probably need to sweat and using a face moisturiser can block the pathway for sweat to reach the skin's surface.

Yes, I agree - sweat is a bit yucky and generally, we try to avoid it. But when we’re working out it has a purpose. Mostly, that is to cool down the body so that we may be more comfortable during a workout (once we get used to the ‘ick’).

If we make it more difficult for our skin to sweat, and most face creams and oils do, then we’re not allowing that moisture to penetrate through the skin in the way it needs to. What's more, sweat mixing with any kind of face cream means pores are likely to get clogged. Therefore, it's not recommended to apply moisturiser before a workout.

The only exception to this would be suncream. If you’re exercising outside then using suncream is essential. Although it may make it a little trickier for sweat to break through, the protection SPF provides to the skin wins out here, sun damage to your skin is the higher risk.

Hydrating Your Skin During Exercise

If you are challenging your body, you need to keep yourself hydrated. Drinking water will restore fluids lost during exercise and ensure your muscles and organs are not being left thirsty. Please note that I specify water and not high-sugar drinks packed full of additives and caffeine. These may claim to maximise performance, but only because they send your blood-sugar levels and chemical responses into overdrive. Whenever you do that you can expect a comedown that will be neither productive nor pretty.

Woman Drinking Water Whilst Running

Sweat can clog pores but keeping yourself hydrated will help to flush this out. Water intake can also help regulate body temperature during exercise so you can increase your heart rate without overheating.

Moreover, water is the absolute best thing for our skin. Even more magical, dare I say, than my face creams and oils. It’s nature’s most natural and necessary resource for health and vitality. Drink it in!

Wash Away The Sweat

After it has served its purpose, sweat should be washed away. Sweat left on the skin can be a beacon for bacteria growth and this can damage the skin, especially since pores are opened during exercise.

Water will do the job just fine so wash your face after exercise with tepid water and avoid using rough face cloths as they can irritate the skin’s surface and even drive toxins deeper into the skin. Aim to rinse away surface sweat and then apply a good all-natural moisturiser.

Do Apply Face Cream After A Workout

Even if you’re drinking water during and after exercise - as you should be - you will need to restore moisture to your skin because a workout can dry out the skin.

After rinsing the sweat from your skin, lock in the moisture with an all-natural face cream. I stress ‘all natural’ because products with harsh chemicals will smother and take over from the skin’s natural ability to regulate and protect itself, which may provide short-term benefits but ultimately interrupts and sometimes even damages the skin’s ability to do this for itself. Natural products seek to aid the skin by encouraging the oil production, repair and regeneration it is capable of and designed to do itself.

Face cream can also help to cool down the skin after a workout. This is important because although elevated oxygen and blood circulation can help the skin to awaken and glow, it must then be cooled to avoid any negative reactions to the change in surface temperature.

Man And Woman Doing Yoga Outside

Healthy Diet

To return to my intro, the body is a circular economy. So, although exercise is highly beneficial, for the whole body, as well as the skin, its natural ally in keeping the body well is a healthy diet. Fortunately, most people who adopt an active lifestyle are also conscious of what they eat. After all, it’s far more challenging to exercise on a bad diet than it is when you’re fueling your body with the food it needs to perform. 

I’m no nutritionist so I can’t advise on the foods you should or shouldn’t be eating. Still, we all know that a good daily helping of plant-based whole foods is the staple of a balanced diet. We know that we should not be overeating or undereating, but that this is subjective. We know we should be avoiding highly processed foods that stress the gut and cause irritation that can provoke more serious illnesses. Cutting out any natural food groups, even in the pursuit of fat loss and stimulating metabolism, is depriving our bodies of essential nutrients. So, when dedicating yourself to better physical health through exercise, follow a balanced diet. Reject fads and don’t disrupt your body with short-term solutions. Instead, focus on long-term lifestyle changes that are realistic, attainable and built around proper foundations of physical and mental health.

What does this have to do with skin health? Well, because everything you put into your body or ask your body to do has a domino effect. Our overall health and wellbeing have the biggest impact on the appearance of our skin.

Nothing you put on your skin - not even my gorgeous all-natural face creams and oils that are really awesome - are a substitute for what you put into your body. So, keep yourself well on the inside with food, manage stress in whatever healthy way works for you and keep your body and mind resilient with the aid of exercise and you’ll be giving your skin the ultimate foundation to thrive.

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