Getting a great workout usually leaves you looking and feeling fantastic. That is unless you find that going to the gym causes your acne to flare up. Of course, you want to stay fit, but sacrificing clear skin doesn’t seem like a fair deal. Fortunately, there are some easy steps you can take to ensure your skin looks as vibrant and healthy as the rest of you.
Wash Your Face Before Working Out
It may feel counterintuitive, but washing your face pre-workout is actually just as important as cleansing afterward. That’s because when the dirt and excess sebum that builds up on your skin–overnight or throughout the day–combines with sweat, you are more likely to get clogged pores and acne. One super-quick way to get your face washed before hitting the gym? Keep a supply of disposable face wipes in your gym bag for a quick clean on the go. And of course, always shower as soon as possible after a sweaty workout to wash away dirt and bacteria.
Avoid Too Much Sugar
If sweets, ice cream, and other junk food are staples in your diet, you may want to start looking for healthier options. A 2014 Journal of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics article, found a correlation between outbreaks of severe acne and increased intakes of sugar, milk, saturated fat, and trans-fatty acids. Another 2016 study in that same publication says that a diet with a low-glycemic index improves the hormonal response associated with adults who suffer from moderate and severe acne. Furthermore, when you replace high carbohydrate, sugary junk foods with healthy alternatives like fruits and vegetables, you boost your intake of important vitamins and antioxidants that can help give you a healthy glow.
Watch Out for Whey Protein Supplements
Protein powders have been popular among fitness buffs for many years. But, for those suffering from acne, there may be a pretty significant downside to these supplements–especially those with whey protein powder which is a dairy product. According to a 2018 systematic review in Nutrients, there is an increased incidence of acne with increased dairy consumption. This 2018 Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology article gets even more specific on the link between dairy and acne, saying that nutritional supplements like whey protein supplements may trigger or worsen acne and that skim milk, in particular, may be a trigger.
Don’t Touch Your Face
There’s a reason they give you those clean towels at the gym. Just being at the gym exposes your hands to all kinds of dirt and bacteria–think well-used weight machines, grimy treadmill buttons, hand weights that get passed around the sweaty hand to sweaty hand and especially those communal mats you’re down-dogging on. To avoid transferring bacteria onto your face, make a conscious effort to keep your hands away from your face until after you’ve showered. Lay a clean towel down on any mats you use, especially if you’re doing push-ups or anything else that places you face down. And finally, use those towels–not your hands–to wipe the sweat from your face.
Relax and Sleep More
Many people report that stress and lack of sleep is a trigger for acne. And we all know that we look and feel better when we’re relaxed and rested. A 2018 Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology article supports that notion, stating that “there is some evidence that psychosocial and lifestyle factors including stress, emotions, sleep deprivation and modern lifestyle impact inflammatory skin diseases.” So, whether it’s a yoga class, a hike in the woods, meditation or just hanging out with friends, find the things that relax you and help you sleep better at night and make time for them on a regular basis. Not only will you feel better, your face just might thank you for it.
Develop a Skincare Routine and Stick to it
If you’re dealing with acne, it’s imperative that you keep excess oil and dirt from building up on your skin and clogging your pores. And the best way to do that is with a skincare routine that’s simple enough to do every day. Finding skincare products developed specifically for men is also a great idea. Thankfully, there are lots of men’s skincare products to choose from these days. But, in order to cover all your bases, you’ll want to make sure you choose one with these three components: a men’s facial cleanser to wash away excess oil and dirt; a men’s facial scrub that will help slough off dead skin cells that can clog pores and cause pimples; and a men’s acne cream that contains Salicylic Acid, a proven acne-fighter.
Don’t let acne keep you from feeling your best
We all know working out is good for us. Not only does it improve our physical health by making us stronger and abler, but it’s also often central to our sense of self-confidence. So, it’s important to make sure we don’t let skin problems keep us from doing the very thing that will make us feel better about the way we look. With just a few small changes and a little more attention to our diet and our habits, clear skin is possible–even with the sweatiest, most intense workouts.