When you workout, your pores open up, sweat flushes out dirt + bacteria and you’re left with healthy glowing skin. Except that’s not what’s happening. Instead you’re dealing with clogged pores, body acne and blemishes when you never had any problems before. WTF?! I’m going to outline some basic steps to follow to help you take back control of your skin while getting your fitness in. Keep reading for your new gym beauty plan + some gym essentials.
I used to know someone who showered before and after workouts. Who has the time for that? I don’t, it’s a struggle just to make time to get to the gym. If you’re like me, gym time is usually sandwiched between running errands. Which also means you’re probably not taking care of your skin while doing all this. This gym beauty plan includes tips for pre, during and post gym to help you clear up and maintain your skin while working out on the go.
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
– Benjamin Franklin
Moisture-wicking Activewear, Old Navy / Dove Cucumber Dry Spray Deodorant, $5 / Under Armour ‘The Works’ gym bag, $70 / Lululemon ‘Everywhere Backpack’ 17L, $70 / Converse socks, $10 / Cetaphil Cleansing Cloths, $6
When you’re on the go and fitting in workouts, preparation is key because you need to carry everything with you. Having a good gym bag that has enough space for what you need but not too big and looks great is all we’re asking for, right? Personally, I like to carry a small backpack style. Shoulder bags can also double as a tote purse so it’s personal preference. I keep mine with me while I work out so it needs to be able to stand up to dirt and be easy to clean.
What you’re wearing is half the battle when it coming to dealing with body acne and fungal issues. Cotton, although affordable, is not the best fabric to be wearing to the gym. It acts like a sponge; as you sweat it soaks up all that moisture and bacteria and holds it right up against your skin. Which leads to you being smelly and breaking out or worse. Choosing activewear that is moisture-wicking a.k.a quick drying is a must! There’s no excuse not to get some because Old Navy and Target have lots of affordable options to choose from.
I wear this natural/chemical free deodorant on a daily basis but for workouts, it doesn’t cut it. Like at all. When I work out, I sweat a lot. I mean a lot a lot. So for workouts I use a dry spray to keep the sweat and potential body odor in check. PSA: Be kind to other gym goers and handle your sweat and body odor.
Cleansing your face before working out is the first step to preventing workout-related breakouts. Soon your pores are going to be opened up and you don’t want them filling with dirt and bacteria. Cetaphil is renowned for being a great product because it effective but also gentle. The fact that it’s also affordable makes it a must have. These wipes are great to keep in your gym bag (more on that later).
Other than sometimes having my eyebrows filled in or under eye circles covered, I don’t wear makeup to the gym. What is the point of that? I’m there to sweat and work out and it’ll just melt off my face. Ladies don’t wear makeup to the gym. You’re clogging your pores. I know you don’t want people to see your blemishes but, one, no one is looking and two, you’re making them worse by sweating with makeup on. So just stop it.
Don’t touch your face. Like ever at the gym. Think about it: you’re in a place where a bunch of different people are sweating and touching everything. Most don’t wipe up their own sweat off the equipment, let alone sanitize it after they use it. Who knows where they have been or what their hygiene habits, or lack of, are. You sit down, touch the equipment and then wipe sweat off your face. All their bacteria is now on your face. Ew. I’m grossed out just thinking about it.
I’m not suggesting you walk around being the equipment-cleaning police at the gym. More that you keep germ protection items in your gym bag. During Workout Essentials coming up . . .
Ecovessel Water Bottle, $20 / Under Armour sweatband, $6 / EO hand sanitizers, Amazon / Activity Trackers / Workout Towel, Amazon
This is pretty self explanatory. You sweat + you need to hydrate. If you’re working out hard, your recommended water intake is 1-2 gallons a day. There are 4 liters in 1 gallon. That’s a lot of water – even when I was working out 6 days a week for 2 hours a day, I was never able to get 2 gallons down. I did get close but all the peeing stopped me. (Oh yeah, drinking a lot of water = a lot of peeing) The one thing that made it easier for me to get the amount of water I needed was drinking out of a straw. So I always go for water bottles with a straw.
It’s important to note that either get one that you push a button to pop the straw up or that you pull it up before you start and leave it up. Because germs. Opening and closing the straw after you touch all that sweaty, bacteria-covered gym equipment. Ew. Blemishes and a nasty gut infection. You don’t want to crap your pants, so keep your dirty fingers away from your water bottle and your mouth.
Like I said, I sweat a lot. Especially from my head, when I’m done with my workout it usually looks like I’ve dunked my head in a vat of water, it’s so soaked. So I wear a sweat band. It keeps my hair and sweat out of my face. That, in turn, keeps my hands from wiping sweat off of my face. Double win. You can also use wrist bands to wipe sweat if you don’t want to wear a headband.
Germs. Everywhere. It’s easy to stash a small bottle of sanitizer in your bag. Then you have it to use after touching a super sweaty machine or after your workout. Simple and it keeps the germs away from you and your skin.
If you’re really serious about working out, then you know that tracking your results is part of it. Knowing how far you walked, what your heart rate was and how you sleep are all important factors in getting healthy.
I have two trackers: one I wear all the time to count steps and another one I wear when I’m working out to measure my heart rate. Why two? Those wrist bands are something I can’t bring myself to wear all day. I think they’re ugly for one. Secondly, as a nurse, my hands get into some pretty gross stuff and the less personal objects I’m wearing, the better. The link above has a list of the best fitness trackers for 2018 if you’re interested in buying one.
I never understand people at the gym who are using paper towels to wipe sweat off. Like, ouch, your poor face. If your reason for not having a towel is that you can’t afford a nice one, you can use anything as a workout towel. Shred an old beach towel. Cut up an old t-shirt. Or better yet, buy a big quick-drying towel and shred that; then you have lots of workout towels for the cost of one towel.
Do I even need to write about why a towel is a must? I don’t think so, but I will anyways. Towels are used to place between you and the equipment. Also to wipe your face because, why? You’re not supposed to be touching your face! But what if you mix up the side that was on the equipment and the side that was on you? Mark your towel so you know which side is which. Or, since you shredded up that big towel, have a separate one for putting on equipment and one for your face. Is that too extra? Maybe, but if it means I’m not going to break out in nasty blemishes, I can justify extra.
I made this list assuming that you’re not going straight home and have errands to run after your workout. That’s what I’m doing most of the time. We have to prepare so we can get clean and presentable even after a workout.
MAC Prep + Prime Bright Forecast, $27 / Benefit Brow Pencil, $24 / Glossier Priming Moisturizer, $22 / Yuni Shower Sheets, $15 / Cetaphil Cleansing Cloths, $6 / Juice Beauty Toner Pads, $30 / Batiste Dry Shampoo, $8 / Supergoop! Setting Mist with SPF 50, $28
This is important; the final key to your gym beauty plan. You’re here because you want to stop gym-related breakouts. Even though you’ve done everything you can to keep any excess dirt off your face, fact is, you still need to clean it after your workout.
That’s why, earlier, I mentioned packing the cleansing cloths in your gym bag. Use them to wipe your face and neck. Then follow up with a toner pad. This will help get any excess dirt or dead skin out of your pores and instill some blemish fighting products. You can use any brand; but look for ones that contain BHAs (salicylic acid) and come in a small container that’s easy for you to stash in your bag. Or put some in a ziploc plastic bag. Just make sure that they don’t dry up or leak.
After treating your face, you need to follow up with moisturizer and sunscreen. No fancy skin routine here; just the basics. You don’t want your skin to get dehydrated or burned (especially if you’re using the toner pads). Working out opens up your pores which is an opportune time to use an active ingredient so if you have extra space in your bag: toss in a Vitamin C serum to increase radiance. Definitely use a moisturizer and SPF after your workout though.
Next is cleaning your body. Obviously, if you’re on the go, you don’t have time for a shower so shower wipes are a big help. This lets you clean all the, ahem, special places where that trapped bacteria and moisture can cause body odor and other issues. Yeast infections and jock itch aren’t fun for anyone. If you’re wearing moisture-wicking fabrics this will be less of an issue. It’s a personal preference but I always want to feel clean and these make that happen.
Like I mentioned earlier, I don’t really wear makeup to the gym because I’m there to work out. While there’s no need to go all out on makeup after the gym, I’m all for a little juge. I don’t want to look like I just worked out after all. Since your pores are wide open, it’s best not to fill them up with makeup. Doing just the basics will help you look pulled together. Brows, under eye concealer and maybe some highlighter. That’s it. You’re already going to have a natural flush going so you’ll look great.
If you’re like me, your hair is going to be a wet mess. The only plus side about that is that it’s easy to wet some more and slick it back. If your hair doesn’t get sopping wet, you can spray a little dry shampoo to soak up any greasiness and add some volume back. Hold the can about eight inches away and spray the roots in sections. Massage it into the roots and you’ll be back to normal. Or if it’s really bad, a hat is always a good backup plan.
After kicking ass in your workout, you need to make sure that you refuel your body so you don’t crash and burn. Make sure you’re eating quality snacks that will help your muscles recover and insure that your body uses fat for fuel instead of breaking down muscle that you just spent an hour trying to build up. Preparation is key. Get in the habit.
[Healthy + Portable Snacks]
- Protein Shake
- Raw Nuts
- Peanut Butter + Apples
- Cucumbers + Hummus
- Turkey + Cheese roll-ups
- Yogurt + Berries
Wash Your clothes
Sooner rather than later preferably. Don’t leave your gym clothes marinating for a week. They’ll hold onto the smell forever (because bacteria stinks). If you’re not going to wash them right away, keep them separate from your hamper and let them air dry so they don’t stink up the rest of your clothes. Take your sneakers out of your gym bag so they can air out and not stink up your feet.