4 Ways To Keep Your Sweat Sessions From Messing With Your Skin

Find out how to keep your sweat sessions and the change of season from beating up your skin


Gotlhokwang Angoma-Mzini |

Photography by Freepik

Find out how to keep your sweat sessions and the change of season from beating up your skin

You hit the gym to be healthy and look hot, so it’s a bummer when you walk out with an embarrassingly bright-red face. Let’s not even discuss the bacne, sports bra- induced boob chafing and hives. Or rather, let’s: “Internal factors such as allergies and skin type play a key role in how your skin responds to exercise, but external factors like clothing and the weather can help or hurt workout-related skin problems too,” says Dr Jeannette Graf, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in the US. Meaning you have a lot of control over how irritated your flesh gets. Besides, working out can be good for your skin. “Exercise increases circulation, which makes your skin glow,” says Graf.

Check out what you can do before, during and after a workout to reap the radiance- bestowing rewards, minus any flare-ups.

1. Excessive Redness

“This is the most upsetting workout-related skin issue I hear about,” says Graf. Especially for women who have rosacea or sensitive skin — those prone to severe blushing. “Women with rosacea have more broken capillaries, so any vasodilation caused by working out makes it worse. Sensitive skin just gets irritated very easily, so heat combined with sweat will cause a are-up.”

PREVENT IT: Start using anti-redness moisturisers formulated for sensitive skin; soothing ingredients such as thermal spring water, zinc, liquorice extract or feverfew will get your moisture barrier in peak condition and make skin more resilient. Try Eucerin AntiREDNESS Concealing Day Care SPF 25 (R230). Avoid using treatments that irritate skin — such as retinol, acne products or chemical peels — the night before a big workout. Keep your body temperature as low as possible during your workout by spritzing yourself with a cooling body spray like Avène Thermal Spring Water (R150).

Watch: 6 Nasty Things That Happen To Your Skin While Exercising

2. Breakouts

When you get really hot, the natural oils on your scalp drip down your face and body and mix with your sweat, settling into pores along your hairline, neck and shoulders, causing breakouts. Then your form-fitting workout gear seals it all in, increasing the odds of bacne and buttne.

PREVENT IT: Dress in clothes made of moisture- wicking material, like Lycra and nylon, which won’t trap sweat. Post-workout, shower immediately with a cleanser that contains pore-degunking salicylic acid. Try Eucerin DermoPURIFYER Cleanser (R140). Your face breaking out too? Try Pond’s Pimple Clear Face Wash (R35), it helps target pimples at the root cause with its unique Lock + Clear Technology. What does that mean? Clear skin within three days. Can’t shower? Wipe o breakout problem areas — T-zone, chest, back and between your breasts — with a face-cleansing towelette. Try Cetaphil Cleansing Cloths (R94).

Watch: What You Should Do After Popping A Pimple

3. Sunburn 

For runners in the far north of SA, more moderate winter temperatures mean more opportunities to go after a personal best – but the sun is still out. “No sunscreen is ultimately sweat-proof and a hard 30- to 45-minute workout is enough to sweat it away,” cautions dermatologist Dr Brian Adams, who specialises in sports dermatology. Near the coast? Your burn risk rises if you’re working out around water or sand. Since both reflect sunlight, you get the rays not only from above, but bouncing up at you from below.

PREVENT IT: Avoid the peak UV hours of 10am to 4pm and wear dark-coloured clothes and a visor. Apply your sunscreen liberally 30 minutes beforehand because it takes up to that long to become active. Choose sweat-resistant sunscreen formulas, such as La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL SPF 50+ Sensitive Areas Stick (R215) for your face and Optiphi Body Curve Solar- Shield SPF 50 Sunscreen (R345).

Watch: Ever Wonder Why You Still End Up Burnt — Even After Applying SPF?

4. Eczema

Autumn chill stressing you out? Harsh cleansers got you scratching? Or CrossFit sweat making you rub your skin too hard? These could be the signs of the pesky skin issue eczema. It strikes in episodes of dryness, itching and redness of the skin. It often occurs on the arms, hands, legs and feet, though it can occur elsewhere. Okay, so you have eczema – what do you do now? It’s simple: keep cleansing to a minimum.

PREVENT IT: Reduce the amount of soap and face wash you use and switch to gentle formulas with few ingredients — nothing antibacterial — try Bioderma Atoderm Intensive Foaming Gel (R220). And don’t forget to moisturise like crazy, use E45 Cream (R195).

Watch: What Exactly Is… Psoriasis?

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