Sweating while working out? Groundbreaking. Skincare dos and don’ts you need to know

July 28, 2023

Summer brings hotter temperatures and humidity which cause us to sweat more. Then you throw in summer workouts, and things can get even sweatier. While sweating is healthy, it’s important to tweak your summer skincare routine to deal with increased perspiration. Ahead, Dr. Robert Finney, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist based in New York City, spills skincare dos and don’ts for any sweat session.

Do wash up—even if it’s a light workout

Dr. Finney says it’s good practice to cleanse your face and body after a workout. Here’s why: “The longer you let sweat sit on your skin, the more likely you are to get clogged pores, which can lead to uneven texture and breakouts,” he explains. If you’re doing a light workout (read: one that won’t leave you super sweaty such as gentle yoga), he notes that there is less urgency to getting cleaned up. In other words, do wash up after a light workout, but don’t feel pressured to do so right away.  

Don’t wait too long to shower after an intense workout

Intense workouts such as cardio, spinning, or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that leave you dripping in sweat are another story. “The more intense the workout, the more importance should be placed on getting out of the sweaty clothes quicker to cleanse the skin,” Dr. Finney says. “The more sweat that dries on your body, the more the chance of clogged follicles and breakouts.”  

Don’t irritate your skin with a towel

Once you’re done exercising, Dr. Finney doesn’t recommend vigorously rubbing the sweat off your face and body with towels, as that can irritate the skin. Instead, he advises using a gentle cloth and blot drying. Then, use a face and body cleanser with active ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, which help reduce breakouts

Do slather on the sunscreen for outdoor activities

There are a few skincare best practices to remember when doing outdoor activities such as walking, hiking or swimming. First, applying sunscreen is vital. “Make sure your sunscreen is sweat or water-resistant,” Dr. Finney says. “If it is not, then it won’t last very long and will leave your skin unprotected from the harmful UV rays.” And don’t forget your lips: “Lip balm with SPF is essential for outdoor workouts,” Dr Finney adds.

Do reapply sunscreen often 

Slather SPF on at least 30 minutes before sun exposure, then reapply as often as recommended on the packaging—or sooner if you’ve been sweating a lot. “The key to reapplication is not to do it while you’re actively sweating as the sunscreen won’t absorb and protect your skin as well as it should,” Dr. Finney advises. Instead, let your skin dry off first, reapply the sunscreen, and then avoid sweating for at least 15 minutes after. 

Do wear sun-protective clothing 

For outdoor activities, Dr. Finney recommends wearing sun-protective clothing and a wide-brim hat in addition to sunscreen. “Despite sunscreen being sweat or water resistant, physical barriers are still mainstays to keep your skin protected,” he says.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Murad, and are for informational purposes only, even if the advice of physicians and medical practitioners are included. This article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and should not be considered specific medical advice.  

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Jessica Estrada is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and editor covering a wide range of lifestyle topics including beauty, skincare, wellness and mental health. Her work has been featured in Well + Good, Refinery29, Bustle, Elite Daily, Byrdie, The Zoe Report, Cosmopolitan, The Cut and more.