9 Ways To Stop Post-Workout Acne & Breakouts

So you’ve been regularly sticking to your workout routine lately — setting your alarm, getting dressed, and heading into the gym all before a full day at the office starts. But can workouts make you breakout? Well, if you're here, then there's a good chance the universe has decided to reward you with a load of post-workout acne. Yeah. You’re welcome.

Thankfully, though, dermatologists know exactly what causes workout-related breakouts. It turns out, knowing how to avoid post-gym breakouts really just comes down to addressing your skin's unique combination of sweat, oil, agitation, and clogged pores. There are loads of simple preventative measures you can take, as well as stuff you can incorporate into your routine after the gym, to stop any pimples, blemishes, or irritations from popping up with those killer guns you’ve been working on.

The most important thing to remember is that your skin absorbs everything you put on it, and this is especially true when you throw moisture and heat into the mix. Because your pores are extra vulnerable (and really absorbent) after a sweaty workout, it’s best to stick to things that are soft, gentle, natural, and nourishing, and do yourself a favor — keep away from the chemicals. Here are some of the best pre- and post- workout tactics to keep your skin clear and fresh, and prevent sweat-induced breakouts altogether.

Exfoliate Beforehand, But Never After

Coconut Kona Coffee Scrub , $17, Amazon

Dermatologist Dr. Hilary Reich told StyleCaster, “When sweat from your workout mixes with oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria, that can overwhelm pores and lead to clogging.” It’s never advised that you exfoliate after a workout, as your skin’s extra-vulnerable and excess irritation will worsen breakouts. However, buffing away all that old skin before a workout could drastically reduce the clogging of your pores when you sweat. This coconut Kona coffee scrub contains only natural ingredients like Dead Sea salt, organic Kona coffee, olive oil, almond oil, shea butter, and coconut shavings. The oils in it permeate the skin to hydrate without clogging pores, and the natural exfoliants are gentle enough to remove dead, dry skin without causing any irritation. Reviewers love both the smell and the result, which is “like a mini massage,” said one reviewer.

Wipe Away Sweat, But Be Careful Not To Agitate Your Skin

Swol Fitness Antimicrobial Bamboo Towel , $17, Amazon

Blotting excess sweat during your workout is important to keep skin from clogging up, but your pores are wide open during a workout, so it’s also really easy to agitate the skin and cause breakouts. This Swol Fitness antimicrobial bamboo towel is made from a ridiculously soft, incredibly gentle bamboo fiber that’s extra absorbent and naturally antibacterial. It’s way better than cotton or microfiber because it’s easier on your skin, and it won’t start to smell in your gym bag. Plus, because it comes from a renewable source, this one is eco-friendly.

Stop Chafing, But Keep Irritating Chemicals Off Your Skin

Waxelene Petroleum Jelly Alternative , $7, Amazon

Chafing and friction is one of the quickest ways to agitation-induced workout acne, but if you’ve got sensitive skin to begin with, anti-chafe products with chemicals and synthetic fillers might just worsen the issue. This Waxelene petroleum jelly-alternative helps to moisturize and protect skin without any additives, chemicals, or toxins. Instead, it’s got nothing but beeswax, soybean oil, rosemary oil, and vitamin E — the combination of which is antibacterial in nature, really nourishing for your skin, and stops chafing and friction anywhere on your body, all without clogging your pores.

Washing Away Good Bacteria Irritates Skin — Balance It With Kampuku

Dr. Ohhira's Probiotic Kampuku Bar, $12, Amazon

Sweating is a natural form of detoxification, and if you’ve got the necessary flora on your skin to break down that sweat, along with the bad bacteria and dead skin, it shouldn’t cause you too many problems. Most soaps strip away that good bacteria, though, so even things out with Dr. Ohhira's probiotic Kampuku bar. It's a high-quality soap comprised of natural, wild-growing herbals and probiotics that replace all that flora that’s been lost, therefore preventing against acne and breakouts, as well as other skin conditions. Reviewers like the subtle smell, the gentle lathering, and the fact that even the most sensitive of skin remains soft and clear.

Instead of Letting Hair & Sweat Mingle, Keep Skin Unobstructed With Antibacterial Sweat-Wicking Band

Bamboo-Lined Women's Sweatband , $20, Amazon

Natural oils from your hair (as well as the chemicals and ingredients in your shampoo and conditioner) can wreak a lot of havoc on your forehead after a workout, so it’s best to keep your hair pulled back out of your face. This bamboo-lined sweatband is great because the underside is made from a super-absorbent and antibacterial bamboo fabric that not only wicks sweat like no other, but reduces your breakouts tenfold. Because it’s super soft and stretchy (but won’t slide down while you’re moving), it’ll fit just about anyone, and it comes in your choice of 23 different colors and styles. One reviewer is calling this “the best headband ever,” point-blank.

Don't Let Sweat & Oil Sit on Skin; Wash It Away, Even When You're In A Hurry

Desert Essence Natural Tea Tree Oil Facial Cleansing Pads , $8, Amazon

Washing your face should be one of the first things you do after a workout, but if you’re headed straight from the gym to the grocery store (or anywhere else you need to be), reach for these travel-friendly tea tree oil pads instead. They’re filled with cleansing, soothing, and natural ingredients like witch hazel, chamomile, tea tree, ginger, and lavender, and come in the form of a convenient cotton pad. They won’t dry out your skin or irritate sensitive pores, but they will help prevent post-workout blemishes when you’re strapped for time.

When Workouts Shift Sebum Production Out-of Wack, Rebalance With Toning Rose Water

Alteya Organics Bulgarian Rose Water Spray , $11, Amazon

Rosewater is incredible for your skin all the time, but given its sebum-controlling, pH-balancing, revitalizing, moisturizing, cleansing, and astringent properties, it’s especially great after a workout. This rose water spray contains nothing but 100 percent pure and USDA-certified organic rose water, which means it’s filled with all the natural vitamins and antioxidants your skin needs to heal and tone after a workout. It also comes in a convenient spray bottle to freshen up wherever, whenever, leaving your skin soft and smelling fresh — even in a pinch.

Skip The Perfume – Go For Essential Oils, Instead

Deodorizing Synergy Essential Oil , $9, Amazon

If you want to wear one, choose your post-workout fragrance wisely, as anything with synthetic ingredients just might settle into your pores and cause pimples and irritation. This deodorizing synergy essential oil uses only a therapeutic-grade blend of palmarosa, lemon, patchouli, coriander, pink grapefruit, cypress, bergamot, and tea tree, which not only serves to completely get rid of any unwanted smell, but it also relaxes and rejuvenates in the meantime. It comes in an amber-colored bottle with a dropper-style applicator, so you can use it on everything from your pressure points to your gym bag.

If You Insist On Keeping Makeup On, Wear Mineral Foundation

Natural Organic Mineral Foundation , $19, Amazon

When it comes to wearing makeup during your workout, it’s best just to skip it altogether. But if you insist, licensed esthetician and acne specialist Alissa Chasen told HellaWella, “Loose mineral powder is the only makeup on the market that doesn’t contain comedogenic ingredients,” which means it’s the only foundation out there that won’t clog up your pores when you sweat. This organic mineral foundation is made with only three non-toxic ingredients that’ll keep your skin clear and smooth, and because it goes on evenly, won’t cake up, has beautifully fresh matte coverage, and comes in nine different skin tones, reviewers are completely loving it. It’s also long-lasting, controls shine, and a little goes a long way, so it’s a great option for the gym.

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Images: Christopher Campbell /Unsplash; Amazon (9)