The Right Way to Wash Your Face After Working Out
It's got a lot to do with letting your skin cool down.
So, you made it out of your advanced spin class alive (this time). As you trudge your newly sore thighs to wash your face in the locker room all you can think about is a cold shower before putting on some quick makeup and heading to work. But while a quick rinse on your face feels cleansing to your skin, your pores aren't getting really clean without a little more time and effort.
"While you should wash your skin after exercising, you have to remember to A) not use harsh cleansers or toners that will strip away your natural oils and B) replenish all of the moisture to re-balance your skin," says Dennis Gross, founder of Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare and Dr. Dennis Gross Dermatology in New York City. "It's best to avoid application of both moisturizer and makeup immediately upon washing after a workout. When you increase your metabolism through working out, the oil glands have a natural desire to secrete, so putting anything on right away may block the pores." continues Dr. Gross. "To avoid this, wait for skin to cool to room temperature." Most beauty products are generally designed to be used on cool skin anyway and when skin is overheated, it can turn temporarily red. Yep, that's why that happens.
To avoid arriving at your post workout Sunday brunch with flushed and uneven skin tone, Dr. Gross recommends you wash your face with the All-in-One Cleanser from his line, or something similar that is hypoallergenic and has moisture-locking ingredients like Acai Fruit Extract. Does this mean that you're going to have to be late to work or wake up early just to have time to use face wash after a gym class? Not exactly. It should only take between 5 to 10 minutes for your body to cool down enough to begin using those coveted products again.
Dr. Dennis Gross All-in-One Cleanser ($30, dgskincare.com)
Dove Beauty Bar ($4.93, amazon.com)
Dr. Brandt Pores no More Cleanser ($35, drbrandtskincare.com)
La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water ($11.69, drugstore.com)
Robert Anolik, a board certified dermatologist from the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York agrees with Gross, adding that when "certain hair bands that are non-absorbent press down on the upper forehead, you should wait for your body to cool down before washing with a Salicylic wash on the face and body." He suggests the Pores No More Cleanser Nettoyant by Dr. Brandt, which is great for getting the dirt and debris that can get stuck deep in your pores.
Since you've already put your skin through changes in temperature and in contact with bacteria, using a face wash or soap with pH levels as close to neutral as possible, (like Dove's White Beauty Bar) will prevent dry skin caused by loss of natural skin barriers. Even if you're not leaving the studio drenched in as much sweat after a nighttime Pilates class as you would a three mile jog, you should avoid walking out the door without treating your skin directly. "Regardless of how much you sweat, spend a few minutes using a facial cleanser post work-out," suggests Mona Gohara, dermatologist at Advanced DermCare and associate professor at the University of Yale's Department of Dermatology. "If you are particularly flushed, use a thermal water infused with minerals to reduce inflammation and to calm the skin down. I really like La Roche-Posay's Thermal Spring Water."
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