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How to prevent and treat exercise related acne breakouts!

Updated on December 28, 2013
Can exercise cause acne?
Can exercise cause acne? | Source

Exercise is great for our health, we all know that, and it is great for our skin too but it can lead to acne breakouts! Dirt collected in the gym or out running, mixed with the sweat from exercise can lead to clogged up pores and acne breakouts! So how do we treat and prevent these exercise related acne breakouts?

Sweat is NOT a bad thing!

You cannot help but sweat when you have a good cardio busting workout! Can you believe some people reduce their effort when exercising to avoid sweating? Our bodies need to sweat it out – literally! Sweat actually flushes toxins and impurities from our system through the pores in our skin. It also helps to clean out our pores, taking excess sebum oils and dirt right along with it. “But you said it clogs our pores!” I hear you cry, and yes, it does! When we stop exercising, the sweat, that has gathered up toxins and impurities just sits on our skin, and left long enough, it will fill our pores. The fats, oils and dirt trapped in the sweat will start to congeal, solidify and clog our pores. It is just as important to sweat, as it is to remove the sweat as soon as possible!

It's important to hydrate during exercise to encourage toxins to be flushed from your body as you sweat!
It's important to hydrate during exercise to encourage toxins to be flushed from your body as you sweat! | Source

Exercise with a fresh face!

Do not exercise with a face full of make up on! You might be trying to impress the person on the next treadmill but there is nothing attractive about a sweat/make up cocktail dripping down your face! Always exercise with as little product on your face as possible! In fact, if you go completely bare unless you are exercising out doors! If you are exercising outside make sure to put on a sunscreen whatever the weather!

If you have to wear make up when you exercise do not wear anything that is liquid, cream or oil based, as this will not have a happy ending for your skin! Opt for loose, breathable powders and mineral make up. Even with mineral make-ups, you should wear as little as possible when exercising! I have always been a big fan of Bare Escentuals / Bare Minerals powder make-up, it’s extremely light whilst giving great coverage at the same time!

Cleanse immediately

If you would rather wait until you got home to jump in the shower then that is fine, but do your face a favor and cleanse before you leave the gym! Your pores will be clogging up with dirt and sweat and you do not want to give it a chance to settle in! Use a deep cleansing wash or facial scrub before you leave the gym to be sure you have gotten all of that grime out before it gets too comfortable. It is this excess dirt and sweat collected during exercise that is the number one cause of acne breakouts after a work out!

Did you know – as we warm up during exercise this opens our pores and makes them more susceptible to dirt and bacteria getting in!


Do not apply a moisturizer until you have completely stopped sweating and cleansed your face! Unless you suffer with extremely dry skin, use a very light, hydrating moisturizer to help re-balance your skin after exercising. Use a product that contains benzoyl peroxide as it is anti-bacterial and will help kill off any excess germs you might have picked up. Aloe Vera is also one to look out for as it is anti-inflammatory and can help reduce that post exercise flush (just be sure to keep both way from the delicate eye area!).

If you have very dry skin apply a rich moisturizer sparingly. You must ensure you have completely cooled down, stopped sweating and cleansed your skin first! Use a gel based moisturizer that is oil-free to prevent clogging the pores.

Gym clothes can cause acne too!

I never related acne breakouts on my shoulders and back to exercise, I only thought it would affect my face! Guess what? When you sweat, you sweat all over your body! From the top of your head to the tips of your toes, your pores and hair follicles will be excreting sweat as you work out! Your acne breakouts are likely to happen in places other than your face too!

If you are investing in your body and health by exercising, then you should definatly invest in some good quality gym clothes and trainers – even the clothes people cannot see when you are at the gym! Invest in some good quality breathable gym wear, from your underwear and socks to pants and top. Be sure you have some decent trainers/running shoes designed for exercise. Not only will they prevent injuries, but they will help your skin breathe as you exercise, reducing how much you sweat!

Wash your gym clothes after every gym session to prevent a build up of sweat and dead skin cells in the fabric transferring onto you skin the next time you wear them and shower yourself as soon as possible!

Remember, less is more when it comes to gym wear! The less we wear, the more our skin can breathe!


Exfoliation is key and if you are exercising regularly, you should be exfoliating regularly too! Exfoliating helps to remove dead skin and debris collected on the skin and trapped/transferred via sweating. However, you do not want to over exfoliate! Exfoliate too much and you start removing healthy layers of skin, resulting in redness, dryness and irritated skin. Ideally, you want to exfoliate around 2 – 4 times a week. If you suffer from dry skin, do not exfoliate more than twice a week!

Hands off during exercise!

The next time you work out; count how many times you touch your face. You will be surprised at how many times your hands come into contact with your face once you are aware of it! Your hands are touching the gym equipment, which has been handled by who knows how many other gym bunnies – and who knows where their hands might have been! These germs are now on your hands, which are already sweaty from working out. This germ and sweat concoction, when brought into contact with your face then mixes with the dirt and sweat already on your face, adding more grime to clog your pores!

Take a towel with you the next time you go to the gym and use that to pat your face and body when it is sweating. Do not rub it roughly as you will aggravate and irritate your skin, as well as spreading the dirt and sweat around. Use an extra absorbent towel to really help soak up that sweat!

Don't forget...

To keep up to date with my writings and goings on, check out my blog


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Can I simply just say what a coomrft to discover somebody who truly understands what they are talking about over the internet. You actually realize how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people need to check this out and understand this side of the story. It's surprising you're not more popular because you most certainly have the gift.

    • Saloca profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Liverpool, UK

      @alicetom getting rid of acne takes time, there is no quick overnight fix unfortunately, I'd suggest you read some of my other acne related hubs, especially my articles on top tips for clearer skin and face mapping to understand the root cause of your acne! Thanks for the comment :)

    • Saloca profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Liverpool, UK

      @sarahshulihan I'm still trying to curb the habit of touching my face! It's hard but it's worth it! Thanks for the comment :)

    • sarahshuihan profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      great advice! I know I touch my skin a lot and that's where the acne appears. I wish I'd read this!

    • alicetom profile image


      5 years ago from India

      hi..u have a lota simple therapies on treating acne..i have a few on my face.. it gets so annoyn at times specially during social functions.. m tryin my best to get rid of them and have a clear face back again.. any suggestion??? thanku


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