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Cheat Sheet

A Dermatologist Debunks 10 Workout Skincare Myths

by @abigailrena
Feb 24, 2020


It's a well known fact that most people who pay for a new gym membership in January end up falling off the wagon by the end of February. New Year's resolutions are easy to make and hard to keep, but we aren't here to judge. If you're still going strong on your get healthy resolution, we're so proud of you! You've probably perfected your workout routine by this point, but what about your workout skincare routine? If you've noticed an increase in breakouts since you started getting shredded, you might not be using the propper cleansing form.

Whether you're a total gym rat or taking your first steps on the treadmill, chances are you believe at least one workout skincare myth. Below, Dr. Joshua Zeichner Director of Cosmetic & Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, busts these myths so you can confidently workout knowing you'll walk (or run) away with glowing skin.

Instagram @joshzeichnermd

Instagram @joshzeichnermd

MYTH #1: You MUST wash your face before you workout

Dr. Zeichner: "Unless you are wearing makeup or heavy creams, you don’t necessarily need to wash your face before working out. After working out, however, it is important to wash your face no matter what. Sweat, oil, and dirt can accumulate on the skin, leading to potential breakouts or even skin irritation. If you are wearing makeup and don’t wash it off before the workout, it can make matters worse."

MYTH #2: Don't wear any skincare products on your face when you workout

Dr. Z: "If you are working out outside or even next to a window when you are inside, it is important to wear sunscreen. UV light can actually penetrate right through window glass, causing some damage. A half hour on the treadmill next to a window adds up over the years."

MYTH #3: Never dry your face on a sweat towel

Dr. Z: "Unless you have sensitive skin, wiping your face with a towel generally should be fine. However, do your best to dab the face rather than rub to minimize potential skin irritation."

MYTH #4: Sweating opens and clears pores of toxins

Dr. Z: "The only detoxifying organs in the body are the liver and the kidneys. While heavy sweating doesn’t truly detoxify the skin, heavy sweating can help flush out dirt and particulate matter that may buildup on the skin."

MYTH #5: Everyone should prep their skin for the gym the same way

Dr. Z: "If your skin is dry or sensitive, applying a moisturizer before working out may be useful to keep the skin barrier in as good shape as possible.

If you have oily skin, then after your work out consider a cleanser that contains a hydroxy acid. Hydroxyacids give a deeper clean to the skin than other cleansers and efficiently removes excess oil."

MYTH #6: It's okay to wait until you're home to wash your face after a workout

Dr. Z: "I recommend washing your face after cooling down from your workout. You ideally should wash your face before you leave the gym. Walking around for an extended period of time with sweat, dirt, oil, and potentially makeup on the skin will increase your chance of developing a breakout."

MYTH #7: Gym equipment won't cause breakouts

Dr. Z: "If you see any sweat or soiling of gym equipment, it is important to wipe it off before using the machine. Friction of your body against the machine combined with sweat, oil, and dirt may increase the likelihood of an acne flare. Plus, contact with someone else’s bodily fluids can actually spread infectious diseases."

MYTH #8: Working out has no effect on skin health

Dr. Z: "There is mounting data showing that exercise actually slows the skin’s aging process. Exercise has been shown to enhance activity of mitochondria, which are your skin cells‘ power houses. This helps provide optimal energy even to aging cells so they they function to the best of their ability."

MYTH #9: A post-workout cold shower will shock your skin

Dr. Z: "When we work out, blood vessels dilate to enhance circulation and allow water to evaporate across the skin. This regulates our core body temperature. A cold shower will help constrict blood vessels and allow the skin to return to its baseline state."

MYTH #10: Cleansing wipes are all you need post-workout

Dr. Z: "A full cleanse is always superior to using a towelette alone. However, I would much rather a patient use a towelette than skip a post-gym cleanse altogether."

Consider your workout skincare myths BUSTED. Follow Dr. Zeichner on Instagram for more skincare tips.

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