Sometimes, your muscles aren't the only thing that will not quit at the gym — redness has a way of taking over your face during exercise, and it's a real you-know-what to calm down. These tips for avoiding and soothing redness from working out can be game-changing if you've struggled with exercise-induced tomato face. Goodbye redness, hello next rep.
An angry, irritated complexion is the last thing you want to see when you're checking out your form in the mirror – whatever happened to the pride and accomplishment that you should be wearing on your face?
Dr. Robin L. Travers, a dermatologist at SkinCare Physicians in Boston, knows the feeling — she's an avid runner herself (she's even the coach of the Melanoma Foundation of New England's Boston Marathon team. Whoa.) She gave us the best ways to prevent redness before, during, and after a workout, and coming from a derm and an endurance athlete, it's safe to say she knows what she's talking about.
So, why the redness in the first place? "Any activity that increases core body temperature is also associated with vasodilation, meaning that the blood vessels on the skin dilate in an effort to dissipate heat more readily," she says. And while this process is meant to keep us from overheating, it also leaves us more red-faced (especially if you've got other conditions or skin issues.)
That doesn't mean a crimson complexion is totally unavoidable, though — whether you're dealing with rosacea, sensitive skin, or just unexplained flushing, these nine tips from Travers just might be the solution you've been looking for.
Sip Something Chilly Pre & Post-Workout
Extra ice, please. "Eating ice chips or an ice cold beverage just prior to a workout can lower your core body temperature and attenuate the tendency toward facial flushing," Travers says. The key here is keeping your body as cool as possible before you hit that treadmill, and helping it cool back down afterwards, too.
Wear Moisturizer To The Gym
Sensitive skin may be the culprit behind your red face — "If the skin gets itchy and stings in addition to simply flushing, this is a tip off that the sweat may be irritating," says Travers. If this is the case, a moisturizer can act as a barrier to prevent irritation.
Choose Cooler Environments
"Select workout environments that offer cooler temperatures and adequate air circulation to cool the face," suggests Travers. Pick a machine near a fan, or go to a location with a breeze. Don't think freezing, though. "Running in extreme cold and wind can produce chapping and windburn that can exacerbate redness," Travers says. The time you exercise matters, too: "Pick early morning or later in the evening to work out in cooler weather if you are prone to exercise induced flushing."
Don't Drink Alcohol Before A Workout
This may seem intuitive, but think about it: a slightly boozy brunch before Sunday spin class or a beer before an evening run isn't a totally ridiculous thought. It should be, though. "Avoiding alcohol prior to exercise can diminish the risk of flushing," advises Travers.
Commit To Sunscreen
Are there any reasons not to wear sunscreen every day? Yet another argument in favor of daily SPF is the long-term effect it has on redness. "Photodamage over time can cause an increase in superficial blood vessels in the skin, and these can dilate to produce an exercise-induced flush," says Travers.
Consider A Cold Shower
OK, this is hardcore, but effective. "Cooling off as quickly as possible is essential," says Travers. "A cold shower works wonders, but it sure is uncomfortable!" No kidding. A less intense solution? Apply a freezing cold damp cloth to your head and neck after a workout.
Skip The Sauna & Hot Tub
As tempting as a relaxing steam or soak may be after a workout, avoid 'em like the plague if you find yourself red-faced — it'll slow down your body's cooling process. That goes for before your workout, too: "Every effort should be made to start your workout routine with a cool body core," says Travers.
Avoid Certain Vitamins & Skincare Products
"Some medications, especially niacin supplements, can cause sudden facial redness if taken at the time of exercise," warns Travers. That doesn't mean you shouldn't take them at all — just don't time them right before you work out. Same goes for topical products, like retinoids and glycolic acid. Because they're already irritating, try not to use them right before a workout.
If preventative measures fail, experiment with redness reducing products after your workout is all said and done (and crushed, obviously.) SkinCeuticals Redness Neutralizer helps cool and smooth hot, stressed skin, treating the source of the redness instead of masking it (us redness-prone girls can only handle so many green products.)
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