Let Your Skin Breathe During Your Workout

Lionesse Gem

Published: July 29, 2019

Regularly exercising is so important, not only for your overall general health, but for your skin too!

Exercise does everything from boost blood circulation to stimulate collagen production, making this key when it comes to maintaining a healthy and youthful complexion.

While this may be the case, you do also need to take good care of your skin while you are working out. It is vital that you take the steps necessary to ensure that your skin is able to breathe while you are exercising, as this is the only way to experience the skin-boosting benefits that your workout can bring.

Don’t Wear Any Makeup

Sure, it’s always nice to look flawless when working out, but not if this comes at the price of your skin.

Makeup, with the exception of mascara, is something that you should never wear while exercising.

What’s so bad about wearing makeup while working out?

Because makeup forms a barrier over the surface of your skin, including over the tops of your pores.

When you exercise, your skin releases both sebum from your oil glands and sweat from your sweat ducts. However, since your makeup is blocking both of these glands, your skin is not able to properly release either the sweat or the oil.


Both then end up mixing together and jamming up your pores, as well as your sweat glands, preventing your skin from being able to breathe.

The result is the following:

Wondering if you could get away with sweat-proof makeup?

No, because you are still going to be sweating quite heavily while working out. This means that your sweat will mix in with your makeup and congest your pores, leading to breakouts.

So, while there is nothing wrong with wearing a full face of makeup while you head to the gym, make sure that you thoroughly cleanse your face before you start working out. You can then follow this up with a lightweight, hydrating serum – just make sure that it is an oil-free formula.

Of course, if you are going to be working out outside, then SPF is a must. Again, look for a lightweight, oil-free formula, and remember that you will need to re-apply this quite soon if you are excessively sweating. 

Keep Your Hair Product-Free and Tied Back

Makeup products are a big no-no when working out, but what about hair products?

Unfortunately, these need to be avoided as well.

You are probably thinking…

How do my hair products affect the way in which my skin breathes?

Well, when you exercise, you sweat, and this can often cause your hair to become wet too. When the sweat mixes in with any hair products you are wearing, those products will end up running down your face, seeping into your pores.

Of course, these products are not designed for facial skin at all, and likely contain heavy, pore-blocking ingredients. These will clog up your pores and prevent them from breathing, resulting in a whole host of skin problems.

Even if you don’t wear any hair products while working out, it is still important to make sure that your hair is always kept tied back.

Why is it so important to tie hair back when exercising?

Woman tying up her hair into a ponytail

Because your hair contains oils. These are important for keeping your locks hydrated and moisturized, but you definitely don’t want these oils anywhere near your face.

If your hair is loose while you are exercising, chances are that your hair will repeatedly be coming into contact with the skin on your face. It won’t take long for the oils on your hair to transfer over to your skin, resulting in breakouts.

What about if you use a headband to hold your hair back?

If you have short hair, you may be able to get away with a headband instead of a hair tie. However, make sure that you always wear a headband further back on your head, rather than across your forehead.


Because otherwise your headband itself will be blocking your pores up, preventing your skin from being able to properly release sebum and sweat.

If you have long hair, a headband on its own won’t be enough, as the ends of your hair will still be able to reach your skin. Make sure that you tie this back, whether this may be into a ponytail, a bun or anything else that keeps your hair off your skin.

Wear Breathable Fabrics

The clothes that you wear when exercising need to be loose and lightweight. Anything tight will only restrict your movement, and can also reduce your circulation

Tight clothing will also prevent your skin from breathing, trapping any sweat and oil against your skin’s surface.

In addition to making sure that the style of your workout clothes encourages your skin to breathe, you need to also pay attention to their fabrics.


Certain fabrics are much more breathable than others. They absorb moisture from the skin and dry quickly, meaning that any sweat does not end up lingering on the skin for too long.

Which fabrics should you be wearing while working out?

Bamboo is a good option, as is polyester and nylon. While the latter two are synthetic materials, the treatments that they undergo enable them to effectively wick moisture away from the skin, while drying quickly too. There are now also quite a few innovative workout fabrics out there that have the same effect, so you should be able to find plenty of breathable options.

Wondering why cotton hasn’t been mentioned?

Although cotton is a natural fabric, and is highly breathable, it is not great at wicking away moisture. This means that you will feel so much sweatier when working out in cotton, which will only end up congesting your skin.

Prevent Excess Sweat and Bacteria from Building Up on Your Skin

Not only can it be quite annoying to have to deal with rivers of sweat pouring down your face while working out, but leaving this sweat to soak into your skin will only interfere with the way in which your skin breathes.

Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that you need to stop yourself from sweating too much while working out…

Instead, simply take a few seconds to dab that sweat off your skin whenever you can feel it getting too much.

“Dab” is the key word there – you don’t want to rub, because this will only push your sweat into your skin. Instead, a gentle patting motion with a soft towel will help to absorb that sweat away.

Does your gym supply you with towels?

This may be convenient, but you would be best using your own towel to dab your sweat away while working out.

Woman wiping off sweat with a towel


Because those towels that the gym provides have most likely been washed using an industrial-strength detergent, as well as bleaches. As you can guess, those cleaning products are filled with chemicals that can often end up back on the skin when you use the towel. This may not be a problem for some of you, but, for others, those chemicals can trigger sensitivities, while also interfering with how your skin breathes.

Of course, you do need to make sure that your towel is clean too. Never re-use a towel for two workouts in a row.

If your skin is already prone to breakouts and infections, you may want to consider a towel infused with silver. This metal has antimicrobial properties, which is why a number of exercise-related brands have been producing quite a few silver-infused products lately.

Don’t have a towel to hand?

Any soft and clean fabric will do, just make sure that you never wipe at your face with your hands.


Because your hands contain so many germs and bacteria, all of which end up on your skin each time your hands come into contact with your face. These will quickly make their way into your pores, causing breakouts, irritations and more.

One more thing to keep in mind…

If you are at the gym, your skin will be coming into contact with exercise equipment. These are known for being home to so much bacteria. After all, think of how many other sweaty people have also touched each piece of equipment!

It can sometimes be impossible to prevent this contact, so your next best option would be to use some antibacterial wipes to quickly give the surface of your exercise equipment a wipe down. This will clear away a large amount of the bacteria, preventing all of that from entering into your skin and clogging up your pores.

Cleanse Immediately After Your Workout

Done working out?

Well, there’s no time to waste – go and cleanse your skin immediately!

It is so important that you do this straight after working out, so that you can get rid of all of that excess oil and sweat as quickly as possible. The longer you wait, the more oil and sweat will be absorbed into your pores, suffocating your skin.

Use a gentle cleanser to do this, and make sure that the water you use is lukewarm, rather than hot.

You only need to give your skin a quick rinse immediately after working out. Once you are back home, you can then go for a longer and more thorough wash.

Not able to access any running water immediately after your workout?

If you have got bottled water with you, you can use that. If not, cleansing wipes will do the job temporarily, but make an effort to properly wash your skin as soon as possible.

Avoid Heavy Skincare Products Until Later On in the dAy

Now that you have finished your workout and have washed your skin, should you apply your usual skin care products?

No, you need to keep things quite mild and gentle for a while.

Due to all of the oils, sweat and bacteria that were on your skin while you were exercising, your skin will be feeling a little more fragile and sensitive than usual.

All you really need right now is two products…

The first is a toner.

Why do you need a toner?

Because cleansers disrupt the skin’s natural pH level, throwing this off-balance. Although there are some pH-balancing cleansers out there, the majority of cleansers still have this issue. It isn’t necessarily their fault either – the ingredients that you need to cleanse your skin simply have a different pH to your skin’s natural level.

The best way to re-balance your skin’s pH level after cleansing is with a toner. You only need a light layer of this over your skin, and these usually absorb pretty quickly.

All you need after your toner is a soothing moisturizer.

How do you know if your moisturizer is a soothing one?

It will usually contain at least one of these ingredients:

  • Aloe vera – incredibly soothing due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It is also a great one for hydrating the skinThe Golden Sapphire Cream, for example, provides a great moisturizing boost to the skin thanks to aloe vera


  • Colloidal oatmeal – this moisturizes and conditions the skin, strengthening the skin’s natural protective barrier
  • Cucumber extract – cooling and calming, this is another anti-inflammatory ingredient that also replenishes the skin with moisture
  • Chamomile extract – an anti-inflammatory that also prevents infections 

You can then go back to applying all of your usual skin care products later in the day, once your skin is no longer showing any signs of flushing or redness.

What should you do if your skin is still feeling a little irritated?

This could be a sign that it is struggling to breathe properly, and it could also be inflamed.

Try a cooling, detoxing face mask. This will help to draw up impurities from deep within your pores, and it will also contain anti-inflammatory ingredients to soothe your skin.

Regularly working out is something that everybody should be doing, but it is so important to understand how to care for your skin while doing so. Taking the time to make sure that your skin is able to properly breathe will go a long way in keeping your skin looking fresh and healthy, not only during your workout but afterwards too.

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