If exercise is good for us, we would assume it is good for our skin. However, if we do not replenish our skin post-exercise we risk minimising the effect of our exercise, and causing skin problems that could be prevented. With a few basic steps after our workout, we can ensure we match our skin-health to our healthy bodies.
Exercise increases circulation, which in turn improves the appearance of our skin, and aids detoxification and cell renewal – a natural anti-aging benefit. Perspiration helps maintain our body temperature, and stress-releasing exercise such as yoga helps smooth fine lines by encouraging the muscles of the face to relax. For some people, exercise can also aggravate skin conditions if there is a build-up of bacteria, clogged sweat glands or chafing and redness. We need to keep pores unclogged, skin free of bacteria & chemicals, and effectively cleanse our faces after our workout, to reap the benefits of exercise for our skin.
During exercise, our bodies release toxins which can build up as a result of lifestyle factors such as environmental pollution, food additives, smoking, alcohol consumption and chemically laden personal care products. Many of these toxins are released through our skin as we perspire. If we do not wash our faces after exercise, the moisture in our sweat evaporates and we are left with toxin-laden salts on our skin. These can cause irritations and blockages in our pores, and intensify the dehydration caused by exercise. Straight after exercise, splash your face with lukewarm water to wash off surface dirt and perspiration, and help cool the body. The colder the water, the more your body will think it needs to hold onto the heat, so lukewarm water is best for helping the body release the heat.
But water alone will not remove the oil based dirt and toxins trapped in the skin’s oily layer. Follow your water wash with a gentle facial cleanser to wash the toxins away, loosen the dead skin cells, and leave clean pores which can breathe, and maximise the effectiveness of our exercise. The most effective way to cleanse is using a cleansing oil. Most commercial cleansers contain surfactants which strip the skin of its natural oils and upset its pH. This can often irritate the skin and actually cause the skin to produce more oil. Soapy, foamy products do not cleanse more effectively, they just indicate a harsh product. Oil cleansing most effectively removes grime and makeup from deep within pores, and doesn’t strip the skin of vital moisture. Cleansing oils help the skin regulate its sebum production, helping manage the oiliness of the skin. Choose a cleansing oil that contains drawing oils such as olive oil, as well as oils which nourish and replenish the skin.
As exercise increases circulation, it also aids our skin’s shedding process. As we age, our skin needs a little help getting rid of the dead skin cells. A cleanser will start to loosen dead skin cells, but an exfoliator is needed to fully remove these cells. Follow gentle cleansing with an equally gentle face scrub to remove the dead skin cells and reveal a fresh, smooth complexion. Always scrub gently and in a circular motion, and use every 2-3 days (not every day). Scrubbing too vigorously or too frequently can cause too many layers to be ‘rubbed off’, and this can lead to breakouts and irritations.
And finally, rehydrate! Our bodies are predominantly water, and a vast proportion of this is held in the skin. Moisture in our skin performs a number of functions, including a protective barrier, a vehicle for vitamin/mineral transport, and holding the shape (and plumpness) of our skin. During exercise we lose a large amount of water through perspiration. When our skin is dehydrated, it encourages fine lines and wrinkles to form, and skin to sag. Choose a light natural moisturiser that still allows your skin to breathe, and ideally, if you have very dry skin, use a super-hydrating serum under your moisturiser for extra hydration and protection.
So it’s quite simple: cleanse, exfoliate, rehydrate for beautiful post-exercise skin health!
Rubiwomen is written by (Ms) Tristan Fahey, Ownr & Founder of Rubifresh Skincare