Gym Skin: How To Navigate Your Skincare Routine While Working Out

By Charlie Colville

2 weeks ago

Treadmill, weights, cleanse, moisturise

It might be the last thing on your mind while lifting weights, but your skincare routine is just as important as your fitness routine. Seasoned gym-goers and first-timers alike are guilty of neglecting their cleanse-tone-moisturise ritual in favour of a super sweaty workout, but it’s often at the risk of breakouts and flare-ups. So, how should we tackle our skincare while planning our gym session? We’ve asked the experts to share their tips and tricks.

Gym Skincare 101: A Guide To Active Skin & Body Care

What Impact Does Sweating Have On Our Skin?

Sweat can have both a positive and negative impact on our skin, especially after working out. ‘We sweat during and after a workout as a way to regulate our body temperature to cool down,’ explains Antonia Philp, founder of therapeutic skincare label Nursem. ‘Sweating is a great way to get rid of impurities, but it can also clog up your pores and cause breakouts on the face and body.’

‘This happens when sweat builds up in the pores and causes irritation,’ confirms Clare Hopkins, co-founder of British skincare brand Balance Me. ‘It’s important to look after your skin, protecting it before exercise, especially if you’re going outside, whilst properly cleansing it afterwards and replacing lost moisture.’

‘But, generally speaking, going to the gym and exercising is brilliant for the health of your skin, as it boosts blood circulation and clears impurities, giving a lovely post-workout glow,’ adds Antonia. ‘At the same time, exercise reduces stress which is often associated with skin issues like breakouts.’

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Should You Do Your Skincare Before, During Or After The Gym?

All of the above, say our experts. ‘We’d recommend performing elements of your skincare routine before, during and after the gym,’ says Clare, who emphasises really thoroughly cleansing the skin before and after exercising, while maintaining hydration throughout your session.


‘Cleanse your skin in the morning, apply a light layer of hydration, then always apply an SPF – this last step is crucial if you’re exercising outside,’ suggests Clare. ‘We’d always recommend SPF30 to protect your skin, especially as you’ll sweat during a workout.’


Mid-workout hydration can be achieved with a lightweight facial spray, as Clare explains: ‘A facial spritz during a workout is always cooling and refreshing, and it’s easy to pop in your gym bag.’

‘Use products that are very hydrating, as your skin will feel tight and dry after sweating from a workout,’ adds Antonia. ‘You’ll want to replenish lost moisture and boost hydration – much like you’d drink a glass of water after a workout. Use ingredients that are kind to skin and help restore the skin barrier.’

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The key point of your post-workout skincare routine is to cleanse the skin, leaving a fresh base for other products in your routine. ‘You should give your skin a double cleanse post workout, ensuring you’ve washed away all of the impurities,’ says Clare. ‘Then add a good layer of hydration with a moisturiser – this also helps to maximise the post workout glow.’

This ethos is carried through from the skin of your face to the skin on your body. ‘We suggest a thorough cleanse of the skin all over the body straight after a workout at the gym,’ says Antonia. ‘Avoid a body wash that will strip moisture from the skin. Follow this with a hydrating body cream to lock in moisture and leave skin feeling nourished and hydrated.’

Should You Shower Straight After A Gym Session?

Are you a pre- or post-workout showerer? While it might feel nice to hit the gym feeling fresh, Antonia emphasises that it’s best to clean the skin straight after exercising. ‘There are so many benefits to showering straight after a gym session,’ she says. ‘Importantly, you’re washing away the impurities such as sweat, oils and bacteria, cleansing the skin and keeping pores clean, helping to avoid breakouts and irritation. It’s also brilliant for relieving tired muscles.’

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The Skincare Ingredients To Look Out For

‘Ingredients that nourish and hydrate the skin to replace lost moisture are key,’ says Clare. ‘Look out for products that contain hyaluronic acid for instance. If you’re working out outside, antioxidant protection such as vitamin C is great, and, of course, never go without SPF. After a workout, a lovely moisturiser to replace and lock in moisture is ideal.’

‘You’ll also want to look for ingredients that are kind to skin and don’t strip it after a workout,’ adds Antonia.

Featured image: Li Sun, Pexels