How many of you exercise regularly? Statistics showed that at the end of last year, 10 million people in the UK were members of health and fitness clubs and 6.1 million attend fitness classes at least twice a month (Statista 2020). Regular exercise has multiple benefits for our physical and mental wellbeing. Strengthening our immune systems, increasing endorphins (mood boosting hormones) and reducing stress. Exercise is great for our skin too!
Physical fitness is a goal many of us want to achieve through nutrition, exercise and quality of sleep. It helps boosting our metabolism, brings oxygen to our skin cells which gives us a healthy glow because it increases antioxidants, cell turnover bringing fresh skin cells to the surface and accelerates collagen production. Regular exercise is a natural youth booster for our skin, but it is important to look after it to ensure we're putting our best face forward.
Thank you to Amanda Mann for creating this photo opportunity!
Five physiological affects of exercise:
1. Increased metabolism - cardiovascular exercise increases metabolism which may increase sebum production that can contribute to breakouts. The increased blood flow to the skin helps you sport that post workout glow, but make sure that you cleanse your skin (and body) as soon as possible post workout to ensure that all of the sweat and toxins are removed from the skin. If you do suffer with post gym breakouts try a clearing body wash to help treat the bacteria and cleanse the skin, a great two in one!
2. Increased circulation - getting hot and sweaty in a workout increases blood supply to the skin. Not only does this cause the skin to become slightly flushed, it can also lead to dehydration and sensitivity. This vascularity can trigger eczema and rosacea. This can be soothed with calming ingredients and maintaining additional hydration.
3. Sweating - sweating can cause dirt, debris and dead skin cells to stick to the skin increasing the potential for blocked pores and breakouts. Sweating increases dehydration on the skin and if exercising outdoors sweat can act as a magnifying glass to the sun causing sun damage (trust me I've found this out the hard way!!)
4. Exposure factors - different types of exercise take place in different environments. At the moment with covid restrictions easing, many are starting to attend small outdoor classes or one to one sessions. Outside, the skin is exposed to the sun and cold temperatures, so it's important to protect the skin with a sunscreen. If you're a keen swimmer whether in the pool or open water it's important to add an extra layer to protect the barrier function of the skin from chlorine or salt water and prevent sensitivity and dehydration with a lipid barrier cream. Any outdoor exercise can increase photo damage aka sun damage, sensitivity and dehydration, but exercising inside air-conditioning can cause the skin to become dry and dehydrated. My point is that wherever you are exercising prepare your skin for its surroundings.
5. Nutrition - nutritional supplements and altered diets can also link to changes in the skin. For example whey protein, often used in protein powders and bars increases the production of sebum and hormones that can cause breakouts. Steroids or performance enhancing drugs can increase hormone activity and increase breakouts.
Now armed with a bit more knowledge about why physiological affects of exercise, how can we maintain that healthy glow? Follow our four pointers for that post workout glow:
1. Clothing and makeup choices:
remove makeup before you workout, wear waterproof makeup to avoid smudged mascara - opt for an oil-free, light-weight foundation like skin perfect primer or sheer tint that contain an spf to protect against the sun and provide a light coverage.
if you're a powder fan, use a mineral based powder, mineral oil can act as a cling film which traps oil and bacteria causing breakouts between the makeup and skin.
avoid makeup wipes because they often contain SD alcohol that dries the skin and strips the barrier function, use an oil based cleanser like precleanse to help breakdown the sweat and dirt post workout.
avoid synthetic, tight, restrictive clothing as this can cause rubbing, irritation and breakouts, opt for cotton and breathable fabrics
launder gym towels and workout gear after every use.
avoid rubbing the skin, instead dab sweat and pat the skin dry to prevent friction and sensitivity.
2. Prioritise cleansing and rebalancing the skin:
rehydrate the skin before, during and after exercising by taking in fluids throughout the day. Add electrolytes for fitness sessions over an hour in duration to boost rehydration. The body looses sodium, potassium and chloride through sweat, these minerals are used to help the muscles function and should be replaced if exercising for longer periods.
shower within 30 minutes of working out to avoid excess sweat, oils and bacteria from building up or sitting on the skin for long periods resulting in breakouts on the face and torso.
double cleanse with an oil based cleanser like precleanse to melt away impurities and follow with a second cleanse like active clay cleanser with charcoal to adsorb the pollutants and thoroughly clean the skin.
take a cool shower, use cool face towels, and drink cool water to help reduce the skin's temperature slowly after exercising. This stops the skin from purging toxins and helps prevent broken capillaries along the cheeks.
3. Protect in harsher environments:
apply sun protection factor spf30 or above to the face and body when exercising outside and reapply every two hours.
wear a hat and sunglasses to keep the sun off the face and protect the eyes
apply a waterless barrier product like barrier repair to the skin when swimming in chlorinated pools or exercising in harsh climates to enable the silicones to shield the skin against the elements.
4. Modify the choice of exercise:
if you suffer from skin challenges like rosacea or other inflammatory skin conditions, perhaps opt for a less cardiovascular intensive workout to prevent the skin from flushing.
try low impact sports like pilates, yoga or tai chi.
Exercise is a great way to sport glowing healthy skin, but skincare is essential to help maintain that post workout glow. Keep moving and smiling everyday, it's a natural youth boost!
Thank you for reading glow getters!
- Diana x