Those mythical creatures who regularly enjoy exercise will know that losing unwanted pounds and toning up can make you feel and look fantastic, but do you know just how your efforts are negatively affecting your skin? From sweating it out in a HIIT class, to swimming lengths of the pool, exercise can cause a whole host of damage to your mush, including acne and even wrinkles.
But relax, there's no need to quit the fitness in order to keep your skin sweet, it's just about breaking bad habits. We racked the brains of expert Dr Rekha Tailor, Aesthetic Doctor and owner of health + aesthetics to find out how we can keep up the calorie burning while keeping our skin breakout and wrinkle free.
How on earth does working out cause wrinkles?
The effects of your regime on your body can also be down to the type of workout that you do, for example continuous high impact training can promote sagging of the skin and loss of volume, for example what's known as 'runner’s face', If you are a lover of weight training, cycling or anything else where your hands play a important role, this can leave you with dry, hard and cracked hands which are often very painful, it's therefore important to invest in a good quality skincare routine.
Eek! How can we avoid them?
A key way to avoiding wrinkles when you are working out is to adapt your fitness regime to include a good mix of strength and cardio training. Incorporating regular weight and strength training into your exercise regime tones muscles including those that lay just under the skin, which gives the impression that the skin is taut, thereby reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
Cardio based exercise helps to improve circulation as well as increase the amount of human growth hormone released by the body. These both work in synergy to support the skin, helps the skin to produce more collagen and elastin which improves the skin thickness and elasticity and replacing dead skin cells with new ones, resulting in a fresher and more youthful appearance.
So just how does exercise make us break out?
Dr Rekha Tailor explains: "Impurities from sweat flush out of your skin and can linger if not washed off properly, leading to oily skin, breakouts and dehydration. The skin then begins to re-absorb which can make the pH factors change and could lead to rashes or irritation.
"Heat and humidity can also cause sweat ducts to become blocked, leading to heat rash, and facial or body acne. Cold compresses can help with heat rashes as they reduce swelling and discomfort, while showering immediately after working out will help to remove excess oil, bacteria, dirt and other impurities."
No more skipping that shower in favour of brunch then!
Chlorine is the basically the skin devil
If you're a regular pool goer, you'll probably be familiar with that tight, dry feeling on your skin after a dip, but did you know the high level of chemicals could also lead to eczema and premature skin ageing? Dr Rekha Tailor explains: "As chlorine gets into the skin cells, it strips away any water, natural oils and sebum causing the surface of the skin to dry and crack. This can lead to wrinkles and even small lesions. Make sure you shower straight after you’ve been swimming and keep skin clean and drink plenty of water."
Can rubbing your face with a sweat towel make your skin worse?
Mopping the sweat from your brow after a sweaty session may seem harmless, but pay attention to exactly what you're wiping with, as this could acne waiting to happen: "Sweat towels can harbour a lot of bacteria which can be easily spread, leading to acne and nasty skin infections. Towels washed in harsh detergents will also make your acne worse. When exercising try to refrain from constantly drying your face - instead let the sweat evaporate on its own, then shower when you get home."
If you really can't live without your beloved gym towel, swap it for a microfiber one as these are dirt-resistant and absorb water quick. Whatever you choose to use make sure it's washed in a fragrance-free, eco laundry detergent to limit damage to your skin.
Should you remove your makeup before working out?
Yep, afraid so people. "It's advisable to remove makeup before working out as cosmetics will mix with the oil and perspiration from your skin, congesting and preventing the pores from being able to release sweat – leading to break outs, blackheads and annoying skin irritation." Don't forget to keep your hair tied up when you work out too, as hair when in contact with the skin, can lead to further breakouts and skin irritation.
Rehydrate by drinking plenty of water during and after your workout and ensure you cleanse throughly afterwards. A regular facial will help to detoxify the skin and a deep cleanse will help to maintain a clear, youthful complexion.
Is it better for your skin to have a hot or cold shower after a workout?
"Cold water is very beneficial after any exercise as it helps prevent any muscle swelling, and relieve muscle soreness after a strenuous workout. It also helps to reduce your heart rate and increase your circulation which will help you recover faster." Noted!
Is gym equipment really as bacteria ridden as we can imagine?
Er, yes it is I'm afraid. Each time we touch a piece of gym equipment we are coming into contact with bacteria that can cause illness and be easily spread, leading to acne and nasty skin infections. Dr Rekha Tailor suggests: "Wherever possible wipe down gym equipment with an anti-bacterial wipe and NEVER touch your face without washing your hands first."
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