Working Out with Adult Acne

Working out with adult acne, how to prevent problems.

We’re edging toward the end of winter, and your workout resolution is well under way.  Or, your regular workout routine has been under way for a long time.  Either way, this is often the time I get asked about the best way to keep acne clear with a workout schedule that seems to interfere too often with keeping skin healthy.  How do you avoid over- or under-washing the skin with workouts, and how to keep skin hydrated enough?


If your workout happens first thing in the morning before applying makeup, there’s no need to do your entire morning routine.  Simply use a third of the amount of cleanser you normally use, rinse well, and spray on twice the usual amount of toner.  Sunscreen should be applied while your skin is still wet, to take advantage of any water-binding ingredients (provided your sunscreen lotion is hydrating, which is best for acne clearing).

Wash your face before and after working out to prevent Adult Acne breakouts

What if your workout is at the end of the day?  Never work out with makeup on!  What’s the big deal?
  • Heat on your skin melts clogging ingredients further into your pores.
  • Pressure and friction from wiping away sweat pushes and smashes clogging ingredients in even further.
  • Both heat and wiping exacerbate inflammation from pore irritating ingredients like red dyes.

Never work out with makeup on!
You can use a liquid makeup remover to not only remove your eye makeup with cotton-rounds, but also use a dime-size in your hand for the rest of your face used like a wash.  Rinse, and spray on lots of toner.  Nothing more is needed.  Now go work out.

Adult Acne Tip:

Wiping sweat off with a terry cloth towel can be irritating.  It can microscopically tear at the skin causing milia, and also cause the kind of inflammation that leads to faster aging, especially around the eyes.  In addition, if you’re using towels from home or the bottom of your shirt or sleeve (yeah, I’ve seen you), residue from dryer sheets and fabric softener will clog your pores!  It's a good idea to stop using those anyway, actually.  Gyms are not likely to use dryer sheets to save on costs, but that also means their towels can be pretty rough.

The solution?  A soft, absorbent, foam cloth! 
Use a skin shammy instead of a towel while working out to prevent breakouts

Simply wet the cloth it in cold water (water fountain perhaps?), squeeze out as much as you can, and now you have a cool cloth that will absorb your sweat like crazy!  When you get home, hand wash with antibacterial hand soap and hang to dry, or throw it in the wash.  It dries hard, so it doesn’t harbor bacteria or mold!  Use it over and over until it falls apart, usually about 6 months to a year.


It is very important to wash sweat off after working out, because the salt of your sweat can actually irritate follicles.  So, as soon as possible after working out, simply do your regular daytime or nighttime skincare routine, depending on the time of day.  If you absolutely can’t do that, if you can only perform your skincare routine at home, rinse your face with cool water at the gym, and spray your toner generously.  But don’t wait too long - remember the ideal is to do your routine right after working out.

If your workout is right in the middle of the day, you can wash using a third of the amount of cleanser you normally use, and then spray on twice the amount of toner, with either nighttime moisturizer or sunscreen.  Moisturizers can be applied an unlimited number of times a day.  Then redo your makeup if needed.

When it’s later in the day and not the middle, like closer to dinnertime let’s say, there’s no reason not to do your entire nighttime routine at the gym, or the minute you get home!  Remember, there’s no rule that says a nighttime routine has to be before bed! 

Adult Acne Tip:  Your nighttime routine does not have to be only before bed

The only caveat here, is that if you’re only brushing your teeth before bed, make sure you rinse with your hand and not a cup, in order to more thoroughly wash away any foam from your toothpaste, which can cause real problems under the lip line and the upper chin over time if any residue is left.

As long as you’ve got such a great start on your health journey, we should evaluate your current skincare routine, taking a look at all products you use, including skincare, makeup, body care, and hair care.  Your body is getting healthy, get your skin healthy, too!

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