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Why exercising in make-up is bad news for your skin

Find out what happens to your skin at the gym…

Sophie Hamilton

We've all done it… head to the gym straight from work or a social engagement wearing a full face of make-up. Rather than remove it and exercise bare-faced, we often skip that step for fear of bearing our blemishes to the world. But is this a good idea, and what exactly happens to our skin when we sweat through make-up? Dr Preethi Daniel, Medical Director at the London Doctor's Clinic talks us through it…

What happens when we work out in make-up?

Dr Preethi Daniel says: "Exercise promotes circulation. It opens the blood vessels near the surface of your skin and causes you to sweat." She explains that while sweat cools you down, it also pushes impurities out of your skin. "Now imagine some foundation, setting powder and blush is covering all of these sweat glands. Sweat and natural skin oils can clog these pores and cause overgrowth of bugs such as P. Acne (bacteria that live deep within pores), causing spots. What's even worse is when these sweat pores open, anything sitting on the surface such as day old make-up and city pollution particles also clog them up and cause breakouts!"

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What are the long-term effects on our skin from exercising in make-up?

Dr Preethi Daniel explains: "Heat rash or Miliaria - which are small itchy bumps on the skin - can develop from not letting your skin breath. Sweat needs to evaporate off the body, cooling it and lifting impurities. By not allowing this you have more of a chance of developing these small itchy bumps."

Are there any make-up products which allow the skin to breathe during exercise?

"Products that claim to be good in the gym: jury's out I'm afraid," says Dr Preethi. "There's no conclusive evidence they add any benefit to your skin during the actual work-out. Many vitamin and antioxidant packed products are now bridging the gap between make-up and skin care, helping cut down the amount of products you need to apply allowing your skin to breathe. I would not recommend leaving make-up on skin when working out, as chances are it will not end up in happy healthy skin."

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How can we look after our skin before and after working out?

Dr Preethi says: "It is always best to take off makeup with a wipe, or even better to wipe it off with some Micellar water on a cotton pad to remove the last of those impurities before working out. Try to shower or wash your face after exercising to clean any sweat and dirty gym gear residue off your face as soon as you are done at the gym."

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Skincare tips for breakouts?

"Clay masks are excellent for deep cleansing your skin whilst also helping to tighten and lift up," says Dr Preethi. "Products containing salicylic acid are natural anti-inflammatories and could be useful for breakouts, however it's always best to check with your doctor before using medicated products. Do exfoliate regularly and for a quick DIY recipe, try whizzing papaya with honey for natural cleansing, exfoliating, toning and moisturising all in one."

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