Working Out and Acne

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Exercise has always been a non-negotiable part of my everyday routine.  I simply feel healthier, more energetic and happier when I work-out – and research stands firmly behind my claims.  For optimal health and beauty – including clear skin – exercise is critical.

But what happens when exercise aggravates your acne?  

As much as exercise and movement are critical, increased cortisol levels and surface bacteria can potentially make acne worse.  But don’t worry – there are some easy solutions to ensure you can get your exercise and clear skin too.

The Benefits of Working Out on Your Skin

The benefits of exercise outweigh the negatives when it comes to acne, by far.

  1. Exercise increases blood and lymph flow to the skin.

You know those blemishes that never go away or keep coming back in the same place?  This can be caused by lymphatic stagnation and exercise is one of the best ways to increase blood and lymph flow – the nutrients and oxygen that are being delivered to the skin help detoxify and nourish the skin. 

  1. Exercise increases sweat and detoxification

Sweating is an incredible form of detoxification for the entire body. If you are sweating regularly, you are also cleansing the pores of your skin which can prevent acne.  

  1. Exercise decreases stress

Stress can trigger acne and exercise reduces stress.  In fact, there are three different biochemical pathways that lead to acne when you are exposed to stress which makes movement an important part of getting rid of your acne for good. 

How Working Out Can Aggravate Acne

We now know that exercise is critical for optimal health and clear skin, but there are a few work-out induced aggravators that can actually make your acne worse.

  • Over-exercising increases cortisol

Research has shown that when you work out at a high intensity for more than 45 minutes, your cortisol levels start to increase.  High cortisol imbalances insulin and progesterone levels, and it also triggers Substance P (a neurotransmitter).  All three of these physiological reactions in the body can lead to acne. 

  • Old sweat can breed bacteria

Working out and sweating is good.  But if sweat remains on the skin, it can create a build-up of bacteria.  This can either lead to regular acne or fungal acne. Fungal acne, which is triggered by an overgrowth of a yeast called malassezia,  is also worsened by heat and humidity.  

  • Friction can cause acne mechanica

Wearing a helmet or any type of workout equipment that’s rubbing against your skin can create something called acne mechanica. Acne mechanica makes the skin more vulnerable to irritation.  This means that if there is a pore that gets clogged, it is more likely to flourish into a blemish. 

How To Prevent Acne When Working Out

If you suspect that your work-outs are aggravating your acne, there are a few simple tweaks that will likely make your work-out acne proof!  

  • Workout in the morning to avoid stressing the adrenals (and over-cleansing the skin).

Working out in the morning is ideal. The morning is when the body naturally delivers a cortisol spike, so aligning your work-out with the body’s physiological clock is ideal.  If you work out in the afternoon or evening, you can overstimulate your adrenal glands by delivering a cortisol spike that could perpetuate any existing cortisol dysregulation. Since acne patients often experience adrenal fatigue and cortisol dysregulation, this is important.

You may also want to avoid high intensity exercise that exceeds 45 minutes and instead focus on activity that nourishes your body so you don’t feel depleted after a workout.  I love yoga, hiking, swimming and cross-country skiing.

Working out in the morning also helps you not to over cleanse.  If you work out in the middle of the day, you have to wash your face two extra times. You have to remove your makeup before you work out, and then, again, you have to cleanse your face after you work out to get rid of the sweat and the toxins and the debris. So working out in the morning is great from a skincare perspective. 

  • Ensure your face is clean before you workout

Don’t work out with a face full of makeup. You are far more prone to clog your pores because the sweat, the oil, the bacteria, the dead skin cells will be trapped in your pores. You need to cleanse your face before and  after you work out.

One of my favorite ways to cleanse the face, especially if it’s in the middle of the day, is to use a micellar water. It’s brilliant. You put it on a cotton pad. You wipe it all over your face to remove anything that’s on your skin, and then you rinse your face with cool water afterwards. 

  • Shower after working out

Have a shower after sweating to prevent bacterial overgrowth on the face, back and chest – or any area that is prone to break-outs! 

Establishing a regular exercise routine is critical for optimal health, beauty and clear skin!  Follow the above tips to ensure that your work-out never causes break-outs again.

To learn more about how to clear your skin and get rid of your acne permanently, be sure to check out my free clear skin masterclass. The link is below, and it will teach you some amazing things about clearing your skin that I’m sure you’ve never heard before. So thank you so much and go have a wonderful workout.

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