Words by Dwight Hill

There’s little question that a trip to the gym can be hard on your hair and skin. Sweating it out is a great way to open up your pores and expel some extra dirt and grime from your skin, but there’s a flipside to that coin.

Too much sweating (in the absence of proper grooming) can lead to irritation, heat rashes, itching, breakouts, and the like. To compound the issue, the equipment at your gym, even if it is occasionally cleaned, can still have a day or more’s worth of bacteria from other users.

If you want to ensure your gym visits will be beneficial for both your physique and your skin, you’ll need to incorporate a bit of strategy.

Start Prepping Before You Even Hit the Gym

One of the most vital keys to keeping your skin and hair fresh even after your workout is proper preparation. Before you head out for a workout, make sure to include your own towel, for starters, as residue left over on gym towels from some commercial skin products can cause you irritation. Specifically, products with glycolic acid, retinoids and vitamin C can cause burning and irritation, particularly after you’ve built up a good sweat.

Instead of peppering your skin with the leftovers from someone else’s grooming routine, you should take your own moisturizers and skin-soothing products with you to the gym. You’ll need those after your workout to prevent your skin from becoming dry, and to combat irritating conditions like rosacea and eczema, if you suffer from them.

One last thing to consider taking with you is a bit of sunscreen. You might wonder why you’ll need it if you’re exercising indoors, but if you’re at a gym that has a lot of windows and exposure to the sun’s rays, they can still work their (sometimes deleterious) magic through the glass. If you have sensitive skin, you’ll be better off keeping it protected.

During Your Workout

The battle for great skin and hair continues to rage while you’re logging miles on the treadmill or hitting the weight machine.

Remember the bacteria we mentioned that pervades the gym? If you’re touching the equipment with your hands, you’ll want to avoid touching your face and hair, as this can transfer said bacteria to sensitive areas of your body. Washing your hands during a workout might be unfeasible, but you can carry some antibacterial wipes with you, and use these to wipe down equipment before you use it and keep your hands clean.

Another thing to remember during your workout is to stay hydrated. You’re sweating, which means you’re losing moisture. To keep your moisture levels stable, you’ll need to replenish with water during your workout.

Post-Workout Care Tips

Now that you’ve got your blood pumping and worked up a good sweat, there are just a few more things you’ll need to keep in mind to ensure the health of your skin and hair.

The first is, again, avoid touching your face and hair until you’ve cleaned your hands. Once that’s done, you’ll want to remove those sweaty clothes immediately. This will help prevent you from getting rashes on your skin.

After that, it’s time to wash off. Use lukewarm water instead of hot water (to prevent from stripping your body of too many natural oils) and remember to pat yourself dry with your towel (again, to avoid irritation). Follow up with your moisturizing and skin routine, and you should be good to go.

Working out is good for mind, body, and spirit. Just remember to keep these tips in mind so you can avoid some of the unintended side-effects to your precious hair and skin.