Whether you’re a seasoned fitness fanatic, or are just a few weeks into your New Year exercise regime, you’ve probably discovered that whilst working out may work wonders for your health and wellbeing, it can also wreak havoc on your skin and hair. From breakouts to hair breakage, and make-up meltdowns to sweat rash these gym-based beauty woes ain’t pretty! Fortunately, fixing them, or avoiding them altogether is easy, and to help you tackle the most common exercise related beauty niggles I’ve put together some simple, tried and tested tips and advice – so you can go for your body goals without sacrificing your beauty game.
Ideally, it is advisable to not wear any make-up at all when exercising, as it mixes with sweat, and can lead to blocked pores and breakouts. However, it isn’t always possible to remove make-up prior to working out, and, in my opinion, it should be down to personal preference, as I don’t believe that wearing, or not wearing make-up should be a barrier to anyone seeking to improve their health through exercise. So, if you exercise your right to head to the gym not completely bare faced, then I recommend using the bare minimum number of products possible. Opt for a tinted moisturiser or BB cream instead of foundation, keep application light, and use waterproof products wherever possible to help keep your face in place through even the most grueling workout.
Dry Skin or Redness
It’s not just our muscles that need replenishing post-workout, after an exercise session skin needs nourishment too. It’s crucial to restore the moisture lost though sweating with a light moisturiser or oil, and avoid applying any harsh or drying products – particularly those containing alcohol. If you suffer from redness, or rosacea, and find that exercise exacerbates the problem, try a soothing moisturiser with anti-inflammatory ingredients such as chamomile or aloe, or if you find that your skin is particularly dry following a workout or swim look for one containing hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid or glycerin.
While it doesn’t seem fair that your well intentioned workout can lead to unwelcome skin breakouts, frustratingly, this can often be the case. If you find you are breaking out across your forehead then your hair may well be the culprit, as exercise causes the hair to produce more of it’s natural oils, which (along with sweat) can block pores and lead to bumpy skin, or spots forming along the hairline. Hair products can also contribute to the problem, so if possible gently pin your hair away from your face during workouts, and skip oily products like serum if this is a particular problem for you.
Avoid touching your face whilst working out, as this will help prevent the transfer of bacteria from gym equipment on to your skin. Try not to rest your face on your gym or yoga mat, and take a towel along with you to place over weights benches before use to protect your skin.
This common, uncomfortable condition (the nemesis of many a gym bunny) appears when naturally occurring yeast and bacteria gets trapped between skin folds, or between skin and clothes. It normally strikes areas where sweat accumulates – think underarms, backs of knees, under the bust and in the groin area. To avoid it wear sweat wicking clothing, apply a topical skin product that reduces chafing, shower immediately after exercising and don’t linger in you workout clothes any longer than necessary, as this can also lead to infection of the hair follicles, known as folliculitis. To treat the rash ensure that you dry the skin thoroughly after showering, use anti-fungal cream, or for a natural solution try tea tree oil, which has anti-fungal properties. However, if you have any cause for concern with your skin health, or the problem is recurrent, painful or persistent you should always consult with a healthcare professional.
Ok, so tying hair up away from the face is necessary to help prevent breakouts, however tying it up too tight can cause hair breakage, and if done consistently can lead to traction alopecia, in which the hair becomes thin along the hairline, as a result of tension weakening the hair roots and causing permanent damage to the hair follicles. To prevent this use snag-free fabric hair bands, or plastic spiral type bobbles (such as the Invisibobble) which put uneven pressure on the hair when it is tied up, holding it securely, but not too tightly and without leaving an obvious mark in the hair when removed.
If swimming is your thing then you need to take steps to avoid or minimise the damage caused by regular exposure to chlorine, which includes drying the hair out, leading it to become brittle and porous. Wearing a swimming cap is the most effective way to prevent damage, but other tips that can help include using a protective product (such as Swimcap Cream by Philip Kingsley) prior to getting in the pool and rinsing your hair with clean water as soon as you can after swimming. Wash your hair with a gentle clarifying shampoo to prevent chlorine build up, and follow with a hydrating conditioner to replace lost moisture. I also recommend using a deep conditioning treatment (containing protein such as Keratin) once a week, to strengthen the hair… Now if only there was a way to make exercise easier!