Exercise and Your Skin

If hitting the gym on a regular basis is on your list of New Year’s resolutions, you might be slacking off by now. This blog is meant to help give you another reason to stick with your exercise resolution for the rest of the year. Exercise benefits the skin in many ways, including helping to alleviate acne, improve your skin tone and provide a boost of endorphins that can reduce stress and calm the entire body–skin included. Along with these amazing benefits, however, your extra workouts could backfire if you’re not careful. Thankfully, there are plenty of tips that can help you achieve and maintain a glowing, radiant complexion long after you head home.

The Skin Benefits of Exercise

Before you ditch your workout because it may require a little extra skin maintenance, remember that exercise is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your entire body and your skin. Because it increases circulation, exercise also increases the amount of oxygen that’s delivered to your skin. This is what gives your skin that youthful, radiant glow just after you’ve hit the gym. Increased circulation also nourishes your skin, which can have a positive effect on acne by helping to reduce the bacteria that lead to breakouts.

Regular exercise also helps your skin indirectly by improving sleep quality and relieving stress. Inadequate sleep and unhealthy sleeping patterns can negatively affect your skin’s appearance and may even lead to premature aging (Clinical Dermatology). Similarly, chronic stress can increase inflammation and reduce the skin’s ability to fight infection by interfering with barrier function (Dermatology Research and Practice).

Prepping Your Skin for the Gym

Now that you’re ready to reap the countless benefits of exercise, the next step is to make sure that you’re not sabotaging your skin by mistake. Most importantly, always be sure to wash your face before and after sweating it out. Using a product such as GCP Pre and Post Procedure Cleanser before you work out can make a big difference in how your skin reacts to exercise.  Cleansing skin before working out is important. Not only does makeup look silly when you are working out, but exercise prompts your skin to produce extra oil. With makeup in the mix, you have a recipe for acne. Wash your face, underarms, chest and back with GCP Pre and Post Procedure Cleanser before you work out to clear skin of makeup, bacteria and debris that can cause acne and body odor when combined with sweat. If possible, do not wear foundation or color cosmetics when you exercise.

If you’re going for a run or doing any physical activity outdoors, don’t forget the sunscreen. If you are in a very dry or cold climate or will be subjected to cold wind, you should apply moisturizer over or under your sunscreen. Moisturizer can create a barrier that protects your skin from the potentially irritating salt in your perspiration and can protect your skin from the cold air. If you are in very harsh conditions such as skiing in very cold weather, applying a layer of safflower oil, argan oil, or Zerafite Barrier Repair Moisturizer over your skin will protect it.

If you have rosacea, ask your doctor if the new prescription rosacea medication oxymetazoline (Rhofade) is right for you. Rhofade constricts facial blood vessels reducing facial redness. Your doctor can also give you other suggestions for anti-inflammatory skincare products to protect your skin during exercise. Click here if you do not know what rosacea is to see a short animated video.

Post-Workout Skin Care

If your sensitive skin gets red (rosacea) and irritated after exercising, wash with an anti-inflammatory cleanser immediately after working out. A cream that contains caffeine such as Replenix Power of 3 or Essopi Triple Antioxidant Cream will soothe flushed skin. If you have dry skin, argan oil is a wonderful antioxidant-rich post-workout moisturizer. Just don’t use it before the gym because it can clog pores.

Ingredients to Avoid

Although some skin types can benefit from moisturizer before exercising, there are certain ingredients to avoid since they can lead to stinging and irritation, especially when you break a sweat. Glycolic acid, retinoids and vitamin C are the main offenders. Save these for nighttime use or days when you skip the gym so your skin can reap the maximum benefits. Avoid hair conditioners with isopropyl myristate because sweat can make the hair product drip onto your skin, and this ingredient is well known to cause acne.

Avoiding Infection

Foot fungus, herpes and warts are often transmitted in gyms. Washing your hands and body with GCP Skincare Cleanser prior to and after exercise will help protect it from these infections. Wear flip flops in the gym shower to decrease your risk of getting plantar warts and foot fungus that thrive in these warm, moist environments.

The Bottom Line

Exercise is great for your body and your skin on many levels. Simply following these precautions can help to prevent skin problems so that you can look and feel your best and stay motivated to stick to your exercise plan!


Dr. Leslie Baumann, M.D. and her team at Baumann Cosmetic Dermatology believe in proof, not promises. World-recognized for both cosmetic and general dermatology, our treatment strategies rely exclusively on evidence-based, scientifically verified products and procedures that promote skin health and a natural appearance. We combine effective medical procedures with individualized instruction on proper skincare, nutrition, supplementation and lifestyle in order to maximize the health of the skin and body as a whole while minimizing the effects of aging. For more, visit Dr. Baumann’s blog for daily updates Monday through Friday, or inquire about an appointment through

March 6, 2017 Acne, Skincare