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Does exercise cause acne?

Does exercise cause acne?

Yesterday saw the Women’s World Cup come to an end, with the USA winning in an explosive final that concluded a fantastic tournament. Whether you’ve been avidly watching the football, concentrating on the cricket, or if you’re now turning over to the tennis, you may well be feeling inspired to exercise more this summer.

But whether you’re aiming for the 2023 Women’s World Cup or just power-walking around your local park, it’s important to know how to care for your skin when exercising.

Does sweating cause acne?

Sweating itself doesn’t cause acne, and some studies have suggested that sweating is actually anti-bacterial. This is because sweating can flush out toxins and spot-causing bacteria, helping to clear your skin.

However, the act of sweating is very different from letting sweat sit on your skin after your work out. During exercise, sweat can mix with bacteria and dirt on your skin, potentially clogging pores and causing a build-up of oil that can then lead to acne.

Why does working out make you break out?

Wiping your face during a particularly sweaty session can also have an impact on your acne. Towels can harbour germs, which you can introduce to your skin when wiping your face.

The action of rubbing your face can irritate acne too, as the friction can trigger breakouts and damage skin. Friction can also be caused by tight gym clothes, which can spread bacteria to open pores as they rub on your skin. Other gym equipment, like benches and weights, can also harbour acne-causing bacteria.

Does exercise help acne?

However, these potential risks aside, some studies have suggested that exercise is actually beneficial for skin. For instance, being active promotes healthy circulation, and increases to blood flow can spread nutrients and oxygen through the body, and to your skin cells. This gives your skin that post-workout glow and makes it appear more vibrant.

Exercising also helps your complexion look more healthy and moisturised, by stimulating your skin to produce more natural oils.

How to look after skin when exercising

Before exercising, remove your makeup and start with cleansed, clean skin. This reduces the number of bacteria on your skin that could potentially clog your pores. If you can’t face going completely makeup-free, then try to use non-comedogenic makeup brands. Use them sparingly only where you feel that you really need the coverage.

If you’re running outdoors, use SPF to protect your skin from the sun. Make sure you wash your gym clothes and towels in between every session. Also, wipe off any equipment with anti-bacterial wipes before use. Then, once you’ve finished exercising, shower as soon as possible to remove toxins and sweat from the surface of your skin.

Use a facial cleanser to remove any trace of potentially skin-irritating sweat. Finish off with a soothing moisturiser that can keep your skin hydrated. If you’re prone to breakouts, choose an oil-free formula, which helps skin to look healthy, and can defend against new breakouts.

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Neutrogena

Neutrogena

Writer and expert