Acne and exercise: Is sweat good for your skin?

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We all know that sport and exercise have generally favourable effects on our health, so it’s no wonder why doctors and health experts recommend regular, moderate exercise. It helps prevent the most common lifestyle diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. 

Additionally, what many of us don’t know is that exercise can also help skin conditions such as acne. In this article you’ll find out the positive effects that exercise can have on blemished skin and what you need to think about when working-out.

Does exercise help with acne?

As well as wider health benefits, what many of us don’t know is that exercise can also help skin concerns such as pimples.

Exercise can help acne-prone skin by relieving stress, boosting oxygen levels and even enhancing overall wellness.

It is recommended to incorporate lifestyle changes such as working-out or improving your diet to fight pimples. Here are some ways regular exercise can help with acne:

1. Exercise improves circulation

Exercise helps you relieve stress.

People who exercise regularly strengthen their whole body and improve skin circulation. As a result of the heart pumping harder, even the smallest capillaries (tiny blood vessels in the skin) are supplied with more blood. This gives the skin a rosier, fresher colour, while the body’s immune system is built up.

A handy side effect: inflammations, which are common in blemished skin prone to acne, heal more quickly and occur less frequently.

2. Exercise provides more oxygen

Those who exercise are in luck as the amount of air breathed in by the body increases and can even double over time. That’s why it is of course best to do exercise in fresh air that is as clean as possible. Breathing in more air means that your body receives more oxygen.

The number of blood cells increases, the heart works more effectively and organs are better supplied with blood. Blood pressure improves, as does the vitality of blood vessels and tissue. This effect is of course good for your skin too.

3. Exercise reduces stress

The latest studies indicate that stress and acne influence one another (you can learn more about this here). The psychological aspect of acne is not to be underestimated, as negative stress can make the skin more susceptible to inflammation and therefore pimples.

Exercise, on the other hand, reduces the levels of stress hormones in the body naturally. You can relax more easily – and that is also good for your skin.

Do you take medication for your acne and want to do exercise? Your doctor will advise you on what you need to be aware of. 

Can exercise clear up acne?

While exercise can boost your physical health, improve stress and overall wellness, it is important to note that exercise cannot solely get rid of your acne. It is also recommended that you build a skincare routine best suited for acne-prone skin, and are able to identify when you need to consult a medical professional about your skin issues.

When you sweat, the skin’s pores open up and dirt and excess sebum are expelled from the body. It may be obvious, but with acne, showering after exercise is particularly important.

Exercise makes you sweat by its very nature, but the act of sweating is actually good for your skin as it “cleans” the body and is not a direct cause of acne.

If you let the sweat dry on your skin, the different substances solidify again on your skin and re-clog pores – ideal conditions for the propionibacteria that cause skin inflammation. So that’s why you should shower as soon as possible after exercise.

Wash skin, especially facial skin, with a suitable dermatological product, such as DermoPurifyer Oil Control Cleansing Gel. When you sweat while exercising you can wipe away the sweat with a clean towel – especially on the affected areas.

Which exercise is best for acne prone skin?

Build-up slowly so you can avoid failures and stay motivated.

The most important thing is to pick a type of sport or exercise that you enjoy doing. Especially recommended for blemish-skin prone are endurance sports such as running, skating, swimming or cycling – and of course general exercise in the fresh air.

You can get similar effects from sports such as football, volleyball or tennis. Working out at the gym is also a good alternative.

  • Start with short training sessions and then slowly build up. That way you stay motivated and avoid failures. 
  • Don’t exercise alone - do it in a pair or a group. This makes it more fun and you can motivate one another. 
  • Don’t lose sight of your goal, exercise gives you a healthy body and clear skin!

Acne tips before, during and after exercise

  • Exercise without make-up on to avoid blocking the skin’s natural breathing ability and prevent clogged pores caused by sweat mixing with make-up. If you would rather not do exercise without make-up on, it’s best to use a light, moisturising, liquid foundation.
  • Use hair care products sparingly. Leave-in-conditioner and other products containing oils can run onto your face when you sweat, and clog pores. This can especially cause pimples on your forehead.
  • Don’t forget your sun protection when exercising outdoors. The best type of product to use is a light, mattifying sun protector, such as the Eucerin Oil Control Sun Gel-Cream Dry Touch SPF50+. Overly rich sun creams aren’t good as they can cause blemishes. Learn more about sun protection with acne.
  • Clean gym equipment before use as the equipment at the gym harbours all sorts of bacteria that can quickly get on your face after touching it. Paper towels and an appropriate cleaning fluid should be available in every gym.
  • When entering the sauna you should have a towel to lie on, as well as another towel to wipe away sweat – a small hand towel will do. Generally it’s no problem to go in the sauna if you have acne, it stimulates your circulation and strengthens your immune system.

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