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7 Products for Glowy, Healthy Skin If You Exercise a Lot

There are a ton of benefits of exercise—it can help lower stress, improve heart health, and make you stronger, for starters. But, as any regular exerciser knows, it can also wreak havoc on your skin. This is something you may have noticed lately if you’ve been working out more than usual thanks to stay-at-home orders.

There are several common skin concerns that exercise can cause or exacerbate, such as facial redness, acne, and even fungal infections, Dr. Carol Cheng, M.D., pediatric dermatologist and assistant clinical professor at the UCLA Division of Dermatology tells SELF.

Redness happens as a result of your body trying to cool itself down. “Your skin is the biggest organ in terms of temperature regulation,” says Dr. Alok Vij, M.D., dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic. “So when you get hot and you work up a sweat, the capillaries on the surface of your skin dilate, allowing your body to get rid of all that excess heat.” That results in the temporary redness you see when you look in the mirror after a workout. Redness is typically not a big deal—it’s common (especially among people with pale skin), temporary, and generally harmless. The one caveat, though, is that people with rosacea have a more exaggerated response to the capillaries dilating, Dr. Cheng says, which causes more intense flushing that happens faster and lasts longer. “It can be really uncomfortable,” she says.

As for acne, don’t blame your sweat—the root of all acne is a clogged pore, SELF previously reported. “What causes acne is buildup of skin protein and bacteria in and around the hair follicles in your skin,” says Dr. Vij. Exercise can exacerbate this buildup of protein and bacteria in a few ways. First, bacte

ria thrive in moist environments (like sweaty skin), says Dr. Cheng. Second, you likely touch your face a lot with potentially dirty hands and towels while exercising, introducing more bacteria into the equation. And finally, if you exercise with a lot of makeup on, that can cause problems too. “During exercise, we have increased blood flow and oxygen to the skin, which then causes our pores to open up,” says Dr. Cheng. “When the pores open up and there’s occlusive makeup on our skin, the makeup gets into our pores and causes sweat and bacteria to get caught.”

And you can blame your dirty clothes for some other exercise-related skin issues. That’s because tight sweaty workout clothing can trap bacteria in it, says Dr. Cheng. This can lead to body acne, yeast and fungal infections, and folliculitis, which is inflammation of the hair follicles caused by friction from clothing.

The good news is that there are easy ways to take care of your skin before and after you exercise, according to the experts. Wear clean workout clothes, and change out of sweaty or dirty ones quickly. Wash your makeup off before you work out. Keep your hair pulled back during exercise to avoid getting oil on your face and neck. Find other ways to keep yourself cool or cool yourself down after exercise. And use certain types of acne-fighting face and body washes if you need reinforcements.

To help you with all this, here are seven products that can protect your skin in spite of frequent exercise:

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