PART I – EXERCISE
All of us know how important exercise is for our general health and wellbeing. But what about for our skin? Will it help give us the healthy glow we’re all looking for, or can it make it harder to care for our skin and keep it in good condition?
Here are all the pros and cons of exercise when it comes to keeping our skin in tip-top shape.
If you think about people you know who exercise regularly, you’ll realize that most of them have great skin. That’s because working out delivers specific benefits that help condition our skin and keep it looking good.
- Exercise stimulates blood flow: Increased blood flow is vital for our skin, delivering oxygen and nutrients that help improve the skin’s overall appearance whilst also increasing our stores of collagen (an essential protein for keeping our skin elastic and helping prevent wrinkles and sagging).
Sweat flushes toxins: Although our liver does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to ridding our body of toxins, there’s a growing body of evidence that suggests that sweating can also help purge unwanted toxins and impurities from our body. Because toxins can sometimes clog pores and cause breakouts, this is great news for our skin!
- Exercise reduces stress: The correlation between exercise and our ability to better manage stress is well known. Again, this is good news for our skin, given that high stress levels can damage skin health, causing breakouts and – sometimes - more severe conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
What to Watch Out For:
As wonderful as exercise can be for our skin, it does come – for a few of us at least – with a warning label. Here are some of the negatives that are occasionally associated with exercise and skin health, along with suggested solutions.
- Keep bacteria in check: Whilst sweating can help plump our skin cells with water and deliver that healthy glow we all want, it can also create the kind of moist conditions that encourage bacteria to overgrow. This can lead to clogged pores, rashes, pus bumps, and even painful acne nodules.
SOLUTION: It probably goes without saying, but we can all keep bacteria numbers manageable by removing sweaty clothes straight after exercising and by having a cleansing shower.
- A fraction too much friction: The constant motion often associated with exercise can lead to high amounts of friction, leading to unsightly, and sometimes painful, skin rashes. This problem – which has perhaps been exacerbated in recent times by our love for tight fitting exercise clothing – is the most common problem experienced by anyone interested in working out and keeping their skin in good condition.
SOLUTION: If you’re susceptible to rashes, try applying an emollient or thick cream to problem areas prior to working out. This can help create a barrier that mitigates friction. Baggier clothes, which don’t rub against the skin, might also help.
- Fending off folliculitis: Compression clothing, and – in particular – compression pants, can cause folliculitis, which often shows up as red, pimple-like bumps on our butts – not something any of us really want!
SOLUTION: Benzoyl Peroxide is often recommended as a treatment for folliculitis, but – because it’s full of synthetic chemicals and can result in redness and overly dry skin – we recommend trying (at least as a starting point) a product full of natural AHAs like The Organic Skin Co.’s ‘Clean Slate’ Cleanser to help cleanse and balance your skin.
- When dry skin becomes a problem: Although sweat can help plump and hydrate the skin, it can also have the opposite effect, especially if your sweat is sodium rich.
SOLUTION: If dry skin is becoming a problem after exercise, make sure to thoroughly rinse off your sweat in the shower before taking the time to moisturize (an ultra-hydrating, pH balancing moisturizer like our ‘Hydration Agent’ Moisturizer is just the ticket here). Pro Tip - spray Set The Tone mist spray on your face, before applying moisturizer, so as to help seal in some extra hydrating H2O content under the cream. Also, try – if you can – to avoid using harsh soaps when it comes to cleansing areas like your back, arms, legs, and chest.
- Getting rid of rosacea: Rosacea is a common skin condition which affects about 5% of all adults. Sometimes triggered by exercise, the constant flushing, irritations, and prominent blood vessels associated with it can be upsetting for some.
SOLUTION: Because rosacea flare-ups are often caused by overheating, you might want to consider the type of exercise you’re doing if the condition becomes a problem. Instead of short, intense bouts of exercise, try other forms of working out which won’t heat you quite so much. Walking, yoga, and lifting weights are all examples of exercise which carry great benefits, but which shouldn’t leave you too hot and sweaty!
- Exercising outdoors: When we take the chance to exercise outdoors, it can be great for our soul as well as our body. Of course, the flip side to this is that we’re exposed to the sun’s rays, which can lead to burning and which ages our skin over time.
SOLUTION: Don’t forget to put on your sunscreen if you’re exercising outdoors. As always, we recommend applying a natural sunscreen, ideally with pH balancing properties. This will help protect you from the stinging eyes and other irritations that are often experienced when your sweat mixes with the kind of synthetic chemicals found in conventional sunscreens.Disclaimer: This blog post was written for educational purposes only. It is not designed to diagnose, treat or cure. For individual health concerns The Organic Skin Co. recommends that you consult with a relevant health professional.