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Pre, During, and Post Workout Skin Care

Posted on February 06 2018

skin care before, during, and after exercising

Time to reach that healthier, happier version of you. Time to get fit! If you plan to spend more time at the gym this year, make sure you don't see a decline in your skin as well. We've compiled the best tips for pre, during, and post workout skin care to help you maintain a healthy, flowing complexion while getting into shape!

Before Working Out

There are some pretty common mistakes people make when it comes to pre-workout skin care.  If you are the type that likes to get up first thing in the morning and head to the gym, you may think skipping your normal morning routine like washing your face and adding moisturizer is a waste.  “Hello!  I’m just going to sweat it all off!”  And while your sweat may impact some of what you put on your face, it’s still important not to neglect it.

Or if you’re the type that likes to take a break in the middle of the day and get your workout in or stop on your way home from work… whatever time of day to choose, you must consider your skin!  Follow these simple steps to prepare your skin for the gym:

1. Cleanse

Oil, bacteria and sweat accumulate on the skin during a workout.  Adding that junk on top of already oily and dirty skin just makes it so much worse!  You’re more likely to experience a breakout if you start your workout with dirty skin. Try this gentle foaming facial cleanser.

*One important thing to note… if you plan on working out with makeup on, there is a right way to do and we’ll talk about that a little later.  But if you’re up for going bare, your skin will thank you.  Allowing your clean skin to sweat naturally without products layered on your face will help prevent future breakouts.

2. Tone

Another step you may consider skipping, but if you use toner regularly in your skin care regimen, don’t skip it just because you’re heading to the gym.  Toner is especially helpful for people with oily or acne prone skin, but it’s beneficial for all skin types.  It helps to remove any additional oil the cleanser left behind and minimizing the appearance of your pores.

If you plan to go workout and sweat, you’re already giving your skin a disadvantage by not using toner.  As your pores open and sweat comes out, pores that have build-up or tend to be more visible on the skin will only increase in size and visibility.  Using a toner prior to exercise will help eliminate that build up and shrink the pores to be less noticeable on your face, even when you sweat. Click on the picture below to view our clarifying face toner.

Geneva Naturals Toner

3. Moisturize

Another step you might skip prior to working out, but skin is smart.  And when your skin feels dry and dehydrated, it works to correct the problem by creating more oil, becomes more prone to fine lines and the buildup of dead skin cells.  You add the extra oil and dead skin cells to the sweat, dirt and bacteria you accumulate during your fitness routine and you can be creating unnecessary problems for your skin.  

Clean skin should always be followed by a moisturizer.  Using an oil-free formula will prevent your face from feeling greasy after your workout.  

If you plan to exercise outside, don’t forget your SPF.  Protect your skin from sun damage by applying a moisturizer with an SPF.  If you’re looking for a lightweight moisturizer that will work to hydrate your skin, plus offer you the SPF you need to work out in the sun and not worry about future sun damage, try this Anti-Aging Facial Moisturizer with SPF by Geneva Naturals.   If it’s cold outside and you are concerned about the wind and chilled air chapping your skin, add a few drops of coconut oil on your cheeks and nose as an extra barrier of protection from the elements.

4. Hydrate

Another important component of healthy skin is hydration from the inside out.  Before you even start your workout, the American Council on Exercise recommends drinking 17-20 ounces 2-3 hours prior to exercise.  They also recommend and additional 8 ounces within 30 minutes of starting your workout or during your warm up.  Keeping your skin hydrated on the inside reflects on your overall complexion on the outside.  

5. Hair

This step is totally optional, but is a great idea for anyone with especially dry hair or scalp.  Prior to your workout, apply coconut oil to your hair.  The natural heat your body creates during exercise will help the oil to absorb into your scalp and hair much deeper than it would otherwise.  This treatment, called deep conditioning, is a great way to multi-task your beauty routine and workout.  

6. Makeup

Like we mentioned before, if you are up for doing what’s best for your skin, go makeup-free to workout.  If you really prefer some coverage on your face, try a tinted moisturizer to prevent any excess oil buildup or blockage in the pores.  

7. Deodorant

Don’t forget deodorant.  You definitely don’t want to be the one who forgets and people avoid standing near at the gym.  There are many different options on the market, find which one works for you.  You may have more luck with a deodorant targeted for excessive sweat and body heat to use while you exercise and apply a less intense formula for everyday use.   

Watch this video from Yoga with Rinka to make sure that you're not making these three skin care mistakes while working out!

During Your Workout

Taking care of your skin during your workout is just as important as what you do before and after.  Think of your skin as a sponge.  When the sponge is dry, the pores are more difficult to penetrate, but as the sponge gets wet, you see the various pores exposed and how the moisture gets in and out of them.  As you exercise, your skin’s pores begin to open and not properly caring for your skin during your fitness routine allows the bacteria, germs, sweat and grime to get into those vulnerable pores.  And while your skin regimen can do a lot to help combat the buildup, it’s best to just avoid it by proper skin care.

1. Wipe it down

Don’t trust that the person before you properly cleaned the machine or weights you’re about to use.  In fact, just assume they didn’t because you’re better off giving it an extra scrub than no cleaning at all.  Those machines are a breeding ground for bacteria and placing your hands in the cesspool of germs during your workout makes it that much more likely to be carried on to other parts of your skin.  But just in case, do not touch your face during your workout.

2. Hand Sanitizer

At the gym, a bottle of hand sanitizer should never be too far away.  A lot gyms provide sanitizer throughout the facility, but if you’re doesn’t, you may consider carrying a small one with you.  Use hand sanitizer after every machine and before and after your entire workout.  To help protect your face from bacteria that may be transferred from the machines or equipment, avoiding touching your face during your fitness routine. Read more gym hygiene tips from bodybuilding.com.

3. Headwear

One great way to help protect your skin from additional oil or future breakouts while at the gym, is to keep your hair pulled back away from your face.  You may prefer a ponytail, braids or low bun, and if you have short hair, you may opt for an elastic headband.  Whatever your hair preferences may be, keeping your hair away from your face is a key component in working towards healthier, cleaner skin during your workout.   The oils from your hair can transfer to your face during a workout and cause additional irritation to the skin.   

You may see some people at the gym wearing a bandana or sweat band across their forehead.  This type of product covers up the pores and your skins ability to breath properly during a workout and can cause the pores to become clogged.  This can result in tiny bumps developing on the surface of the skin, or more damaging effects like post-workout acne can occur, leading to scarring and redness.

Try to keep your hair beyond the hairline to protect your face from the transferring of oils and irritation leading to future breakouts.

ponytail while working out

4. Hydrate

Keep drinking water during your workout.  The American Council on Exercise recommends drinking 7-10 ounces of water every 10-20 minutes during exercise.  You may feel that you don’t want the distraction of going to get a drink every 10-20 minutes, so consider carrying your water with you, so it’s accessible at all times whether you’re in a class, working out to a video at home on the television or walking up a hill outside.  

If you do not drink enough water, dehydration can occur and you may experience symptoms like:

  • Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
  • Dry mouth
  • Lack of sweating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle cramping
  • Faster heartbeat


You may also experience more severe symptoms which are a signs of heat illness and you should consult emergency medical assistance immediately.  Those symptoms include mental confusion, loss of consciousness or weakness.  You could also feel painful muscle cramps or spasms in your arms, legs, stomach or back.  These are signs of heat cramps which can lead to heat exhaustion and feeling weak or faint.  

5. Carry a towel

Keeping a towel handy is a great way to gently dab your skin and remove excess sweat accumulation.  It helps to remove bacteria and dead skin cell buildup prior to your post-workout routine.   But don’t forget to wash your towel!  Use a clean towel for every trip to the gym or every workout at home.  The bacteria from your sweat transferred from your previous workout will only add to skin problems down the road you can avoid.

    After Your Workout

    1. Cleanse

    You’ll want to wash your face as soon as possible following your workout.  You may start with a facial wipe to remove the initial sweat and build-up followed by a more intense cleanser in the shower.  This is also a great time to introduce and exfoliator into your skincare routine.  The exfoliating properties will help to remove dead skin cells that build up and eliminate excessive oil that has been secreted from your pores.  Then follow with a mild cleanser to thoroughly remove oil and toxins.

    2. Moisturize

    Skin can feel flushed and red following a workout due to heat from exercise.  The capillaries under your skin dilate and raise your body’s core temperature.  Apply a gentle moisturizer following your cleanse to help soothe the skin.  If you have naturally dry skin and your face is feeling parched post-workout, consider using an Anti-Aging Cellular Face Oil to replenish and moisturize the skin while brightening your overall skin tone.  

    3. Dry Shampoo

    If you don't feel like washing your hair after every time you workout, try using dry shampoo to absorb moisture.  It can give your skin added texture making it great for a messy bun or super voluminous ponytail.  Shorter lock lovers can also take advantage of the conveniences by using dry shampoo and saving some extra time on your post workout routine.  

    Think you got the skin care part of working out down? Check out our best realistic weight loss tips that anybody can follow. Incorporate your goals to get fit and taking care of your skin with our natural, anti-aging products:

      skin care products for exercising

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