Sweating, while irritating, is a good thing. It allows our bodies to expel heat from all the energy we’re burning. Whether we’re slowly walking up a hill or frantically doing spin in a sweltering studio, if we didn’t sweat we’d overheat and shut down. It’s a necessary evil, but can have adverse effects when it comes to our skin and some of the less agreeable things that emanate from it
‘Is sweating good for your skin?’ is a question that really depends on how you manage it. If you do find yourself sweating heavily a lot—whether from the gym or just your daily routine—it’s important that you adhere to the following basic rules if you want to prevent heat bumps, acne, sweat pimples and all sorts of other nasty skin skullduggery that sweat can help engender.
1. Don’t Wear Makeup to the Gym/on the Commute
When you sweat the pores on your skin naturally open up and you don’t want said makeup to settle back into said pores, do you? No, you don’t. You want your skin to be able to breathe. You wouldn’t go on the step machine/underground with your airways blocked, so try not to clog your skin either.
2. Wash Your Face When You’re Finished
Simply request and usually carried out by gently splashing your kisser with cool water. Why? Because you want to simultaneously remove any bacteria and sweat residue whilst returning your skin to its normal temperature as soon as possible.
3. Exfoliate Exceptionally Grimy Areas
If you sweat profusely it might be a plan to get hold of some toner wipes: round cotton things that come loaded with products to clear pores in the areas that sweat the most (the ones with loads of sebaceous oil glands including chest, back, back of neck and your face.
4. Use the Right Towel
Unless you belong to an on-point gym who dispense correctly sized and fibre-d towels willy-nilly—which rarely happens—it might be best to bring your own. It’s your towel right, so you know when it was washed last and how much of your sweat it can soak up before it becomes redundant. You should also be aware that super-soft and mega-fluffy is not the way forward when it comes to swatting sweat: thickness traps bacteria, you see. Opt for a thinner towel with microfibres and be sure to wash them after every use. Yes, EVERY use.
5. Moisturise Like You Mean It
This might sound counterintuitive considering the name of the act itself, but when you’re drying yourself you don’t have to be bone dry before you stop. It’s best to leave a little bit of moisture on your skin and then moisturise to trap that lovely human dew where your skin will like it most.
You can also do yourself a favour by moving any hair away from your face to stop oils or hair products blocking your pores; Not touching your face—yes, we know it’s hard, but come one—if you’ve handled shared gym equipment; And sucking gently on a bit of ice when you’re done: the sensitive temperature receptors in your mouth help you cool down and reset your temperature much quicker than drinking fluids, blowing on yourself or fanning your ruffled visage with a magazine.
Some other big questions when it comes to sweat and skin…
What is a heat bump/sweat spot and how do you get rid of them?
Also called ‘heat rash’ or ‘prickly heat’, this is where tiny little red heat bumps appear on the skin usually on clothed bit of the body: back, abdomen, neck, upper chest, groin, or armpits. They occur when sweat gets trapped beneath the skin and leaks into surrounding tissue.
These are common fungal yeast infections that show up as a red rash between folds in your skin. They can sting, burn, blister, pong a bit and even break the skin. Deal with them quick though—using an anti-fungal or anti-inflammatory cream, depending on your symptoms—and they will disappear in no time.
And lastly: Does sweat cause acne?
The short answer here is: no. Not directly, anyway. There is, however, an increased buildup of bacteria on your body during exercise so you should heed the pre- and post-workout skincare advice above if you want to help prevent any future issues.