Skincare expert reveals how your workout could be affecting your skin

The answer may surprise you!

woman in gym
(Image credit: nd3000 / iStock)

Finding the time and energy to exercise at the end of a long day can be an extremely difficult thing to do, especially when you have to factor in cooking, cleaning and school pick-ups. Finding the time to commit to an arduous skincare routine can also be demanding, so imagine if you were to put the two things together? Almost impossible, right? 

A survey recently carried out by The Body Shop found that over half (58% of Brits) don't factor in a skincare routine before or after exercise, and that 61% feel like it's an unnecessary step. Yes, you may stay hydrated by taking a water bottle with you or protect your hands with gym gloves, and that's great. However, it's actually incredibly important to look after your skin before and after working out, and it can have a serious effect if you don't.

Oh before we begin, have you checked out whether you're using the right products for your skin type?

How should you be looking after your skin during/after workouts? 

Although skipping the occasional shower after physical activity isn’t a bad thing, infrequent showering can cause a build-up of dead skin cells and has the potential to knock your skin’s good and bad bacteria off balance. This can lead to irritated skin and make skin conditions such as acne and eczema worse.  

To find out more, The Body Shop teamed with consultant dermatologist Dr Shaaria Nasir to get the low down on why pre & post gym skincare is so important. 

Pre Gym-Skincare: 

Despite it being essential to remove makeup before working out, only 11% of Brits do a full skincare routine beforehand. Blemish-prone skin tends to overheat and perspire a little more than other skin types, leading it to produce oil that can build up on the surface over time. 

Dr Nasir highlights that: “Removing makeup before exercising is important, as makeup mixed with sweat can cause breakouts." 

Experts at The Body Shop recommend a quick and simple routine for your skin pre- exercise. The first step is to cleanse the skin to avoid blocked pores and bacteria build-up. Products that are delicate on the skin with anti-inflammatory properties work wonders to gently break down any debris left on the skin, leaving your skin calm, clear and ready to sweat.  

The second step is to add a layer of hydration before you get your body moving, with Dr. Nasir suggesting “opt for a light serum or moisturising lotion before exercising”. Products containing Vitamin E are great for this, as they help your skin lock-in and absorb moisture, whilst strengthening your skin barrier. 

Post Gym-Skincare: 

Whether you’ve had a sweat-fuelled cardio session or done a few laps of the pool, having a post gym body care routine is of utmost importance. Dr. Nasir points out that “Prolonged exposure to sweat can also irritate the skin causing inflammation and flare ups of eczema, especially in the creases of our skin.” 

“If left on the skin for long periods, the sweat and moist areas become a great breeding ground for bacteria or yeast. We all have these microorganisms living on our skin but in the right environment the microorganisms will thrive and start causing problems to our skin. Some examples are acne breakouts and yeast infections.” 

Read T3's guide on caring for your skin after working out for more information!

Should skincare vary with different workouts?

Yes, you should change up your skincare when carrying out different workouts due to the varying effects they can have on your body. Keep reading to find out more...


After a session of sun salutations, your skin needs soothing ingredients to restore balance. Aloe vera gel is perfect for this, due to aloe vera’s anti-inflammatory properties helping to calm skin and reduce irritation.  

To maintain that post yoga glow, a burst of hydration is key. Products containing Vitamin E are excellent at locking in moisture and preserving your skin’s hydration levels throughout the day. 


Chlorine-soaked hair can often get dry and tangled. To give your hair a well deserved boost of moisture, shampoos and conditioners containing shea butter work wonders. Shea butter is packed with fatty acids and vitamins, such as Vitamin A & E, that help hydrate and nourish your hair.  

Post swim, your skin needs some gentle exfoliation. Activated charcoal is great for this as its naturally gritty texture helps remove dead skin cells, and can also help tighten pores, leaving your skin feeling fresh and revitalised. 


In cardio sessions, you tend to work up a sweat, which can lead to a breeding ground of bacteria, but tea tree-based products can help banish the bacteria. This natural oil has anti-septic, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, helping you get squeaky clean from sweat. 

Interested in more? Look at these 6 tips for looking after your skin before, during and after a flight. 

Lizzie Wilmot
Staff Writer, Home

Lizzie is T3's Home Staff Writer, also covering style, living and wellness. She works closely with Bethan Girdler-Maslen, T3's Home Editor, ensuring all the latest news, trends and recommendations are covered. Outside of T3, Lizzie can be found mooching around Bath, attempting (or at least trying to) a new DIY project or spending time with family and friends.