We all love a good workout. Hitting the mat after a rough day or zipping through a boot camp class can beat stress, help us sleep better, and improve our sex lives (no complaints there!). But let's face it: as amazing as we feel post-workout, it definitely can leave us feeling icky—read: sweat, redness, itchiness—especially as the temperature climbs.
Fortunately, you won't have to skimp out on workouts if you want to sneak in Pilates during your lunch break or head to a hot date after spin. We chatted with dermatologist Jessica Wu, MD, author of Feed Your Face, who shared her favorite ways to feel refreshed after working out. Ahead, tips on how to leave the gym looking fly.
REMOVE MAKEUP BEFORE WORKOUTS
We all know that sleeping in your makeup is a terrible sin, but the nocturnal hours aren't the only time you should go bare. "Wearing heavy makeup while exercising can clog your pores," says Wu. In addition to breakouts, the potent combo of perspiration and your favorite skin maquillage can also cause irritation and redness in some people. To avoid unwanted complexion mishaps, "take off heavy foundation and powders, and wash your face as soon as you can to remove sweat and oils," says Wu. If showing up to the gym sans makeup is a scary thought, you can dab on concealer and waterproof mascara, but keep it minimal.
SWEAT PROOF YOUR FACE
Working out means you will sweat; one of the benefits of exercising is getting out a whole host of toxins through your pores. But for the gym-goer whose perspiration resembles a waterfall, Wu recommends this easy trick: "For patients who get really sweaty on their forehead, I often suggest using antiperspirant on the hairline," she says. Dab on a thin layer and say goodbye to streams of salty water running down your face.
SWITCH TO A COOLER SPACE
No need to completely ditch hot yoga in the summer if that's your go-to stress buster, but if you plan on heading to another event after (work, party, date), try to minimize the heat. "To keeping redness and itchiness at bay, try to exercise in a cooler environment, either indoors in A/C or during a cooler part of the day like early morning or evening," Wu advises. The lower temps will also cut down on sweating and help fend off dehydration, so you'll emerge less sluggish.
Post-workout glows are super sexy, but for many (this writer included), hitting the gym means leaving with a complexion akin to a sunburnt lobster. "Redness is caused by increased blood flow to your skin, and some people’s blood vessels are more reactive, so they enlarge when your heart rate goes up or you get warm," Wu explains. Fortunately, cooing off the crimson is simple: "Calm the face or neck by misting H2O with a spray bottle or press a cool damp towel to your cheeks," says Wu.
COLD SHOWERS ARE KING
While hot showers can be super relaxing, you'll want to turn down the temp after exercising. "Hot water will enlarge your blood vessels, making any redness and itching more persistent," says Wu. "If you can't handle a cold shower, at least make it lukewarm, and you'll be doing your skin a huge favor."
Image: Fotolia/Konstantin Yuganov