The Best Pre- and Post-Workout Skincare Routines
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If you feel like your skin looks less-than-radiant after a workout, there’s a reason. Dirt, bacteria, and oil can build up on your skin during a sweat sesh, which can lead to breakouts.
Of course, that’s no reason to ditch exercise. The key to keeping your skin smooth is to have a good pre- and post-workout skincare routine.
Still, we understand that the endless options available in the skincare aisle can feel intimidating. But no worries — we’ve curated expert tips and tricks to help you achieve flawless skin before and after your workout.
Pre-Workout Skincare Routine
Before you start your workout, you’ll want to do these three things:
1. Start with clean skin
If you’re wearing makeup, start with a cleanser before you start your workout. This is especially important if you have oily or combination skin.
“Makeup and sweat will clog pores, leading to increased breakouts, so it’s vital for those with oily and acne-prone skin to start workouts with a clean face,” says Susan W. Cox, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Newport Beach, California.
For well-balanced skin types, try Lancôme Miel-en-Mousse Foaming Cleansing Makeup Remover.
“If your skin is particularly dry, you may want to put a soothing moisturizer, like Higher Education Goal Digger, on after washing your face,” Cox says.
For those with combination skin, the “T zone” — the forehead, nose, and chin — “tends to be oily and acne-prone while other areas are more sensitive,” Cox says. Look for a moisturizer that can help to balance your skin, such as Weleda Clarifying Lotion.
Even oily or acne-prone skin may benefit from moisturizer before a workout. Hydrate the skin with a lightweight, water-based formula like Brownlee & Co’s HydraBalance moisturizer.
3. Apply sunscreen
If you plan on exercising outdoors, SPF is crucial for every skin type.
“If you’re heading outdoors for a run, use a zinc- or titanium-based sunscreen,” Cox says.
EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 Facial Sunscreen — a mineral-based sunscreen with zinc oxide — is a staple in Xtend Barre creator Andrea Rogers’ skincare routine.
“And don’t forget a lip balm with sunscreen,” Cox adds.
Post-Workout Skincare Routine
These four tips will help you care for your skin after a workout.
1. Cleanse (gently)
It’s essential to clean your face immediately after working out to prevent sweat and dirt from clogging pores.
“Sweat, sun, heat, and wind can be very irritating to dry, sensitive skin,” Cox adds, so if you have sensitive skin, be sure to avoid using harsh or abrasive cleansers after a workout.
In general, the cleanser you used before your workout will be fine for your post-workout skincare routine as well. However, if you have oily skin, you may want to use an oil-absorbing product like Differin Daily Deep Cleanser after your workout to help prevent breakouts.
2. Apply toner or blemish treatments if needed
If you have sensitive skin, you may want to follow your post-workout cleansing with a toner. Choose an alcohol-free formula with a cooling effect to soothe sensitive skin, like Kiehl’s Cucumber Herbal Alcohol-Free Toner or Dickinson’s Enhanced Witch Hazel Hydrating Toner.
If you’re in a hurry, simplify your post-workout skincare routine with Versed Baby Cheeks All-in-One Hydrating Milk, a toner that also helps to balance and moisturize skin.
If you have combination skin, you may want to treat acne-prone areas with blemish control pads like The A Method Daily Blemish Pads to help keep breakouts in check. Finish off with Weleda Clarifying Lotion to help balance the skin.
And if you have well-balanced skin, you may opt to skip straight to moisturizer after your cleanser, Cox adds.
For well-balanced skin, apply a lightweight moisturizer after cleansing. Philosophy Renewed Hope in A Jar can help minimize the appearance of pores and leave your face looking radiant and refined.
For sensitive skin, opt for a soothing moisturizer like Philosophy Purity Made Simple. This ultra-light moisturizer absorbs quickly and won’t weigh your skin down.
For combination to oily skin that’s feeling especially tight, dry, or irritated, use a hyaluronic acid moisturizer to help normalize skin and hold moisture, Cox adds. Try Cetaphil Daily Oil-Free Hydrating Lotion or Higher Education Double Major Gel Moisturizer.
4. Reapply SPF
Last but not least, don’t forget to reapply your sun protection post-workout. You can use the same sunscreen you applied before your workout, or look for a tinted moisturizer with SPF 30 or higher — it’ll take care of your moisturizer, makeup, and sun protection all at once to help streamline your post-workout skincare routine.