Exercise: Dermatologist reveals what really happens to our skin

By Leonna Taylor 3rd June 2020 Category: Advice

One of the benefits of lockdown is that many of us have used the extra time to get fit! From home HIIT workouts to running 5 and donating 5 or taking advantage of the sunny weather by going for a bike ride, there has been a surge in people working out.  With Government guidelines now allowing unlimited exercise, some of us might look to ramp up our fitness even more.

There’s no doubting that exercise is good for us mentally and physically, but sweat, elongated sun exposure and even the associated weight loss will all have an impact on our skin. As with any training session, our skin needs the appropriate care pre, during and post workout.

With this in mind, we asked one of our leading Consultant Dermatologists, Dr Firas Al-Niaimi to share his tips on what we should be doing to our skin pre and post workout as well as the effect exercise has on it.

Pre exercise:

“If you can, try skipping makeup all together before you exercise. It is important for your skin to be able to breath, especially when you are exercising, all make up does is prevent that from happening by creating a barrier on its surface.  As you work out and your body heats up, your pores will also open up and what you don’t want to happen is for your makeup to settle back into your pores. This often results in blemishes, in particular whiteheads and blackheads from where oil, bacteria and makeup have become trapped.

“If you can, try using a micellar water facial cleanser before working out to try and remove any stubborn makeup before applying a light moisturiser. If you are exercising outside, remember to wear an SPF that is non-comedogenic such as the sk:n Sunscreen SPF 30 as this will also help to prevent any blockages within the pores whilst providing protection.”

During exercise:

“When we exercise our heart rate increases, this in turn increases our blood circulation, delivering much needed oxygen as well as essential vitamins and nutrients to tired skin cells. Over time as you start to work out on a regular basis this will promote efficient circulation to the skin and improve its overall health. It will also extend your glow to long after your workout finishes.

“Sweat is also far more important than you think – believe it or not it does wonders for your skin. It is the most natural way we can detox as it helps to clear pores of any dirt or pollutants whilst also providing a way for your body to flush out any toxins. When we sweat our pores open, and as this happens any blockages we may have become released.”

Post exercise:

“Regular exercise can have a real benefit to our skin. Not only can it help to prolong the ageing process by increasing a particular organelle in our cells called the mitochondria which plays an important protective role in cellular ageing, but it also has almost-immediate positive effects on our skin’s thickness and elasticity – regardless of whether you’re an exercise novice or it has been part of your daily routine for years.

“Maintaining good elasticity in the skin allows it to return spontaneously back into its original place after being stretched. An example of this is when we make facial expressions – which we do countless times a day such as smiling and talking. Overtime, like most things our skin changes and as we age the elasticity will lose its durability, however exercise helps to maintain firmness.

“To allow this natural process to fully work, it is really important to make sure that you cleanse your skin after your work out, simply wiping your face with a towel just won’t cut it. If you don’t do this, the dirt that has been released from your pores will still be sitting on the skin’s surface and will simply settle back into your pores again. Try using the sk:n Vitamin Rich Gel Cleanser for Oily Skin as it is a great product to not only reduce oil and bacteria but it is also designed with rich vitamins and antioxidants.”

Here are Dr Firas Al-Niaimi top tips for skincare post workout:

  1. It’s helpful to try and cool off the skin to help prevent the breaking of blood vessels and return skin temperature to a normal level quickly. A simple quick splash of water on the face can help to do it which will also help to reduce any redness.
  2. Next, use a gentle cleanser as this will help to wash away oil, dirt and dead skin cells. It’s important to use a gentle product as your skin can often be more sensitive right after a workout.
  3. Another great way to get rid of excess dirt and oil is with toning pads. These often come in cotton pads that are already soaked with ingredients such as salicylic acid or glycolic acid. They are particularly good at removing that layer of sweat and any stubborn makeup with both ingredients acting as a chemical peeling agent.
  4. The next important step it to moisturise, the moisture in your skin will need to be replenished as it will be quite dehydrated. A product that is rich in hyaluronic acid and restorative ingredients is good for doing this. sk:n’s CU3 intensive moisture cream is great for as it will replenish the most dehydrated of skin.
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