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Skin School  >   Wellness

Is Sweat Causing My Acne?

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So you finally motivated yourself to get to the gym. If your workout groove is interrupted with worries that busting it in the gym today will result in a breakout tomorrow, don’t sweat it! Sweat itself does not cause acne and it may actually be beneficial to your skin!

But I swear I break out after a workout!

There are dozens of reasons why you may be breaking out, but sweat isn’t one of them. Acne develops from a buildup of sebum, dead skin cells and P. acnes, which are naturally occuring bacteria that live at the base of hair follicles. So what’s the deal with pimples popping up after a workout? It’s probably from the bacteria that our skin comes in contact with. 

When you’re in the gym, you’re probably touching dirt and bacteria on machines, bars, walls and floors. And then you are using those same hands to wipe sweat from your face and body, transferring bacteria that can ultimately cause inflammation if left on the skin.

The truth about sweat 

Physical exercise and routine fitness is great for the body and heart because it helps prevent illnesses and diabetes. But those are not the only benefits of breaking a sweat. It can also help the skin by opening pores and releasing the oil and bacteria trapped inside. Think of this as a "sweat detox" for the skin, a natural detoxification process that occurs within your body. Some of us may have tried steaming our face to open up the pores, a sweat detox is the same! Sweating can also help unclog pores and fight against acne bacteria.

Plus, sweating also releases the protein dermcidin, an antibiotic that can even kill E coli! 

Woman running on a bicycle

Tips to prevent post-workout breakouts  

While you don’t need to worry about getting pimples from sweat, you do need to remember a few clean workout habits that can help keep your skin clear: 

1. Remove makeup before you work out.

Yes, we know the gym is full of hottie trainers, but  dermatologists recommend that you not wear makeup during a workout. When mixed with sweat, bacteria from foundation could easily clog pores.  

2. Clean your clothes.

The fact that your gym clothes from two days ago are now dry doesn’t mean you can wear them again. They are still covered in dead skin cells, bacteria, dirt and oil from your last workout. Wash them before you wear them again! Anyone with sensitive skin should change out of sweaty clothes immediately after a workout. And if you use a towel to wipe away sweat or cover the machines, make sure that’s cleaned regularly too!  

3. Wash up!

Whenever possible, shower or at least wash your face soon after exercising. Cleansing will remove the toxins that were expelled from your body while you were sweating, as well as any bacteria left from the gym environment.

The Bottom Line

Don’t be afraid to sweat it all out at the gym because sweat does not cause acne! If you do have an open or active pimple, cover it with an Invisible+ Mighty Patch and no one will even notice it’s there.

Whatever you do, don’t avoid exercise because you think it’s causing breakouts. Not only does it help decrease the odds of getting diabetes and other illnesses, but it’s also great for mental health. Taking a holistic approach to wellness ensures we’re always at our best - whether on the outside (our skin) or the inside (our mood)!

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