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Hi, I'm Jen

The benefits of working out for your mind, body and skin are endless. We know the advantages of exercise increase endorphins, lessen anxiety, increase better sleep, support heart and cardiovascular health, decrease blood pressure and lower stress levels. Exercise has been proven to be effective at alleviating feelings of depression beyond medication and there are plenty of studies to validate this too.

We are not predisposed to the body breaking down and becoming weak due to age. This is a myth perpetuated by the pharmaceutical industry that is fed to us by the media, a majority of allopathic medicine and is the undercurrent of societal conveniences of American living. Industrialized living and modern day lackadaisical lifestyles are far more destructive to the body and skin vs age alone. I personally refuse to become a product of the system and movement is a massive part of my life.

But I digress, I know you’re here for the skin and it’s true that nothing will get your skin glowing, blood flowing and lymph moving like a sweat inducing workout! Yes, we can use great products, incorporate face massage, eat clean but skin deeply reflects clarity and vibrancy when we are moving and sweating. Ideally we are clearing stagnation from body and skin daily through movement before it even has time to settle and build in the body.

Pre and Post Workout Skincare

Pre and Post Workout Skincare: Everything You Need to Know

A solid workout routine is a fantastic way to take care of your skin from the inside out. However, there can be a lot of confusion around skincare workout skincare routines. Should we cleanse skin before or after workouts, what about end of day workouts if we have make-up on our face, people who get extremely red when working out, etc. It can get tricky when taking all of these nuances into consideration.

Breaking a good sweat relates to a tip I would share with clients during their first facial visits regarding congestion, lackluster complexions or desiring to transition from conventional, heavier ingredient products to natural and simplified skincare products. I would recommend clients not to apply products for 1-3 nights after their facial and to work up a sweat during these evenings, this lets the skin purge and rebalance. Check out my full minimalist skincare routine for more on transitioning your products.

This looks like simply cleansing skin after a good sweat sesh and applying only a water based facial mist. That’s it. No oils, no moisturizers, no balms, nothing topical on the skin in order to give the skin a few nights to balance out. The increase in circulation and sweating assists as a rebalancing kick-off for skin.

I’ve also received questions from clients who are yoga teachers and personal trainers.

They sweat multiple times throughout the day, sometimes going back and forth from outside into cold air conditioning. There can be a lot of confusion around how to take care of your skin in these circumstances too.

No matter what your skin type or workout routine is, I created this post to answer all your questions around skincare routines, working out and important steps to dial in for pre and post workout skincare. Rest assured you can get your sweat on without worrying about your skin!

Should You Do Skincare Before or After Workout

Depending on the time of day you workout, indoors or outdoors, what you’ve applied to skin the night before and what to do if you have makeup on your face are all factors to take into consideration for your skin pre and post workout.

If you workout first thing in the morning and slept with a clean complexion:

There is no need to cleanse skin before your workout. Over cleansing the skin is never ever helpful. You do not need to cleanse and apply fresh products if you’re going to be sweating immediately after that.

There is one exception to this rule if you’ve applied retinoids or active products the night before. In these circumstances, I do recommend lightly cleansing the skin with a gentle cleanser, as being in the sun or creating high heat in the body can potentially aggravate the skin with retinoids from the night before.

Pre Workout Skincare Routine

For working out outdoors:

If you are working out outdoors and need to apply an SPF to protect your skin, you can simply tone the skin for a hydration boost and then apply your SPF. It’s more beneficial to give skin a thorough cleanse post workout routine vs. cleansing, applying SPF, sweating and then having to do it all over again.

For skin that gets red or skin inflammation with breakouts present:

Monitor the skin to notice what and when inflammation arises. Try to avoid working out with active products on your skin, as this falls under the times you would cleanse skin in the morning before a workout as mentioned above.

With skin that is sensitive to sweating/high circulation, it’s ideal to keep skin free from active or heavy products while working out. As wonderful as face oils are, in some instances they can hold inflammation in the skin. Unless you are working out in winter temps outdoors, opt to sweat and workout with a light water based soothing serum or light oil such as jojoba and avoid oils/balms/heavy moisturizers when sweating in order to let skin breathe.

Pre workout skincare routines also depend on if you’re wearing makeup on your face.

If so, you’ll want to lightly cleanse skin to prevent breakouts and congestion. Keep it simple and wash your face with a gentle cleanser, tone and apply a light layer of a finishing serum or oil product. Save the deeper cleanse for your post workout skincare.

Pre Workout Skincare Routine

Step 1 Cleanse

For morning workouts, no cleansing is required unless you’ve applied active products the night before. For evening workouts, If you’ve had make-up on, give the skin a gentle cleanse to remove make-up and prevent pores from becoming clogged and potential breakouts occurring. Ditch astringent and drying make-up remover wipes. These are never recommended and they are abrasive to all skin types. A gentle micellar water cleanser is a fantastic way to gently remove make-up pre-workout. 

Step 2 Hydrate

If heading for an early workout indoors with a clean and active product free routine the night before, you can use a hydrating facial mist for a quick skin pick-me up and boost of hydration. This is my go to for early morning indoor workouts.

If you’ve gently cleansed cleansed skin to remove active products or make-up pre-workout, follow with a hydrating face mist. Avoid astringent or exfoliating toners pre-workout. I rarely recommend these products as is and using them pre-workout can be quite aggravating to skin as the body begins to heat up.

Step 3 Moisturize and Protect

If heading straight to an indoor workout and there are no active products on the skin from the night before, leave skin as is or as mentioned above, use a light facial mist for a simple skin refresh. Full routine is done for post workout skin.

If exercising outdoors, a layer of mineral spf and hat is recommended to protect your skin. For cooler months, you can lightly mist skin without cleansing and follow with a light layer of balm or oil to protect your skin from becoming  dehydrated, dry or chapped.

Post Workout Skincare Routine

Step 1 Cleanse

Properly cleansing after your sweat sesh will prevent pore clogging problems that may lead to breakouts. Cleanse skin thoroughly after you workout to prevent congestion and remove dirt, debris or oil sitting on the skin. I recommend washing your face within an hour after working out, if not sooner. 

As always, deeply cleansing the skin does not require over stripping the skin. Opt for a double cleanse after your sweat session. Start with an oil cleanse followed by a second cleanse with a creamy cleanser or active cleanser for PM routines.

Step 2 Hydrate

With every skincare routine, toning the skin is a must. After cleansing, drench the skin with a hydrating toner facial mist. Especially if you tend to get red during your workouts, a soothing facial mist such as rosewater will help alleviate redness. Look for ingredients such as rose, chamomile and calendula to calm skin. Avoid astringent and exfoliating toners.

Step 3 Moisturize

After cleansing and toning, apply your water-based serum for an extra boost of hydration and nourishment, followed by your oil based products to moisturize and seal in hydration. In the a.m. you’ll ideally be applying a stabilized, water based vitamin C serum followed by a nourishing facial oil and SPF as needed.

Your PM routine is where you would come in with your retinoids or any exfoliating products. If skin redness is a concern during workout sessions, adjusting use of active products can be helpful both pre and post workout skincare routines. If skin is sensitive or redness post workout is a concern for you, monitor and skip the active products around your workouts if needed.

Most importantly, move your body! We can tend to worry that skin is going to break out or what to do about redness from working out. Don’t let your skin deter you from getting your movement in! I assure you by adjusting your skincare routine correctly and following a solid pre and post workout skincare routine, your skin and body will thank you.


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