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How to Break a Sweat Without the Breakouts

How to Break a Sweat Without the Breakouts

As great as workouts are for keeping you healthy and getting you in shape, those sweat sessions can leave you with a face (and body) full of breakouts. 

According to the derms, it's not the sweating itself that causes breakouts, but the combination of sweat, heat and friction that can lead to the clogging of pores and ultimately blemishes. If you have existing acne, the salts in sweat can irritate the skin, inflaming pimples.

Here's how to get a great workout without compromising your skin.


#1: Start With a Clean Face

Always wash your face prior to working out. And always avoid wearing makeup or sunscreen, which will only clog your pores as soon as the sweating starts. Only wear sunscreen during a workout if you are working out outdoors. If not, apply it once you've finished your fitness session.

If you absolutely must wear makeup during cardio or strength training, check that what you're wearing is non-comedogenic. That means it won't clog your pores and is less likely to cause acne. However, if you can, it's always better to hit the gym bare-faced.

Use a gentle facial cleanser or micellar water before you head to the gym or your lounge and follow up with an oil-free moisturizer. 


#2: Tie Your Hair Back

Before hitting the gym, tie back your hair and wear a headband to keep bangs and stray hairs away from your skin. This will also prevent pore-clogging hair products like leave-in conditioners, hairsprays, and oils from coming in contact with your skin.


#3: Keep Your Hands Off Your Face

Every time you touch your face, you are exposing your skin to oils and bacteria which puts you immediately at risk of breakouts. If you find yourself rubbing your skin or wiping away sweat during a workout, stop yourself before you go any further. 

Instead, pack a calming mist or toner in your gym bag that you can use anytime your skin needs a refresh. 

As hard as it may be, keeping your hands away from your skin can work wonders for your complexion. 


#4: Wear Loose-Fitting, Breathable Clothing

Your workout clothes could be responsible for your body breakouts. 

"The skin is filled with tiny glands and pores which secrete oils and sweat while you’re working out, all in an effort to cool the skin and balance electrolytes," explains Rachel Nazarian, MD, FAAD at Mount Sinai Department of Dermatology and Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. "Tight clothing makes it difficult for these glands to do their job and blocks the outlets of the pores."

Opt for looser-fitting clothing made with breathable fabrics to let your skin breathe. Choose fabrics such as cotton rather than synthetic fabrics like polyester and rayon which poorly absorb moisture, trap heat and sweat, and trigger acne breakouts. In fact, these fabrics can also flare skin conditions such as rosacea which worsen when temperatures rise.


#5: Don't Sit Around in Sweaty Clothes

As soon as you're finished working out, hop in the shower to wash away the sweat, oils, and impurities. This'll stop your pores from becoming congested and as a result, prevent breakouts from occurring.

Whether you only sweat a little or are prone to excessive sweating, everyone can benefit from taking a shower post-workout. Instead of sitting around letting the oils, sweat, and heat blend together, wash them away and change into fresh clothes. Your skin will thank you!


#6: Use a Salicylic Acid-Based Cleanser

Salicylic acid is a type of chemical exfoliant known as a beta hydroxy acid (BHA). It's capable of cutting through oil and exfoliating deep within your skin to dissolve dead skin cells, unclog pores, and attack acne-causing bacteria. You'll find it in most face washes, topical treatments, and body washes designed to treat acne.

If you've got acne-prone skin or are prone to getting zits after working out, invest in a salicylic acid-based face or body cleanser to keep your skin clear. Make it part of your daily skincare routine if you're prone to breakouts. 


#7: Check Your Labels

And by labels, we mean skincare product labels. Whatever you are using pre- or post-workout, make sure you use products labeled as "non-comedogenic" and "oil-free," as this means it won't clog your pores.

It's especially important to look out for these phrases on your creams and lotions, as these are the worst for containing pore-clogging ingredients. 

If you're noticing post-workout pimples and you can't figure out the reason why, your daily moisturizer could be the culprit. Remove it temporarily from your daily routine or switch it with something "non-comedogenic" to distinguish if this really is the culprit behind your breakouts.


#8: Apply an Exfoliating Mask

Exfoliation is a fundamental step in a skincare routine for sloughing away dead skin cells and excess sebum for a fresh and clarified complexion. 

Instead of scrubs which tend to be too harsh for most skin types, opt for a chemical exfoliator. Chemical exfoliators contain alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic and lactic acid, which gently dissolve the bonds between dead skin. 

Try Rainbow's Glow Bundle. It features a mask and serum designed for both the face and body. Formulated with exfoliating glycolic acid and protective bakuchiol, these ingredients work in tandem to buff away dull, dry skin and decongest pores. 


#9: Apply a Topical Acne Treatment

If you're experiencing bad breakouts after working out, consider using a spot treatment containing one of the two acne-zappers: salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. It's important to get ahead of your breakouts before they get worse. Speak to your dermatologist if you need professional advice or product recommendations. If you're experiencing cystic acne, you may be prescribed either topical or oral acne medication.


You can definitely break a sweat without getting breakouts, so don't use it as an excuse to stop working out. Follow the steps above to keep your pores unclogged and your skin clear as ever. As long as you're keeping your skin clean, your clothing loose and breathable, and you're using acne-targeting products, you should stay clear -- or become clearer! 


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