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  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

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Athlete acne: 6 tips for breakouts after workouts

Breakouts after workouts? Don’t sweat it.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jul 6, 2023 • 3 min read
Athlete jumping and smiling doing a split in the air
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jul 6, 2023 • 3 min read
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

Exercise has so many benefits for your body (including your skin!) and your mind, that breakouts shouldn’t get between us and our workouts. That said, we understand it’s tough to figure out what causes acne — and it’s frustrating to deal with acne as a “consequence” when you’re making a healthy choice like exercising. We’ve got you! In this blog post, we’ll go over the best products, tricks, and tips to take care of your skin, so you can spend more time with your eyes on the prize.

1. Remove makeup

If you have makeup on, remove it. During exercise, sweat can mix with makeup and oil on your skin, which can clog your pores and lead to breakouts. Try micellar water to easily remove makeup! It comes in face wipes for easy on-the-go cleansing, and even travel-sized bottles. Just soak a cotton pad with micellar water and swipe the pad over your face for a quick cleanse.

2. Sunscreen

If you’ll be exercising outside, make sure to apply sunscreen before you head out. Don’t forget the super-important step of reapplying your sunscreen, too! If you’re going to be out for extended periods during the day, your mission (whether or not you choose to accept it) is to re-apply every 2 hours or so — especially if you’re going in and out of the water or sweating/wiping your face a lot. Check out our sunscreen guide for acne-prone skin for product recommendations, including water-resistant sunscreens you can wear while swimming and sweating outdoors.

3. Wear clean, loose-fitting clothing

Make sure to wear clean clothes while working out. While sweat doesn’t directly cause breakouts, wearing already damp or sweaty clothing may lead to more breakouts! Tight clothing that doesn’t let your skin “breathe” can give acne microbes an even better environment to thrive in. Opt for clothing with a looser fit that won’t trap heat or cause friction on your skin. And most importantly, rinse or cleanse your skin ASAP after breaking a sweat to help wash away those gnarly microbes.

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4. Wipe down your gear

The same way tight, sweaty clothes can lead to breakouts, so can any gear you wear on your bod: ankle weights, bike helmets, and anything else you strap on. Give your gear a good wipe-down (depending on the material, cleaning instructions will vary) after you’re done so it’ll be ready to go when you are.

5. Protect against chlorine

Chlorine can dilute your skin’s sebum — which is a fancy way of saying that it can strip your skin of its natural protective oils. This can lead to moisture loss, which can cause dry, itchy skin. You can protect your skin from chlorine with a little before-swimming skincare. All you need is a good moisturizer. We like pure petroleum jelly (like Vaseline) because it’s safe for sensitive, acne-prone skin. Read more about skincare for swimmers.

6. Take a post-workout shower

Lather, rinse, repeat. Nothing feels better than a refreshing shower after working up a sweat, so don’t skip this step! If you have body acne, try adding an acne body wash with salicylic acid to your routine — like The Acne Body Wash by Curology. You can use its lightly foaming goodness every day. A splash of our dermatologist-designed body wash treats and helps prevent acne, plus washes your pores of regular dirt and grime. Our body wash is formulated with 2% salicylic acid — just enough to be tough on acne but kind for all skin types.

Treating acne is kind of our thing. Okay, it’s totally our thing. If you’re struggling with acne-prone skin, we’re here to help — just sign up for a free trial of Curology to get your very own custom acne-fighting cream (subject to medical consultation). Just pay $4.95 for shipping and handling. Check out our Guides for more skincare tips, and remember: we’ve got your back!

Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

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