Call it perspiring, sweating, shvitzing, or glowing- sweating is just a part of life. But is sweating good for your skin? The answer is yes . . . and no, which is why in this blog post, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of sweating for your skin and most importantly, how to deal with your skin after you’ve broken a good sweat.
IN A NUTSHELL
Main Takeaways: Generally speaking, sweating has some great benefits for your skin and your overall health.
Good to Know: While sweating is excellent for your skin, you do need to pay special attention to it once you cool down to make sure your skin doesn’t get clogged up with impurities.
Benefits of Sweating for Your Skin
Chances are you’ve probably heard someone somewhere say that part of maintaining good health is breaking a sweat every day, but why? What happens when we sweat and is it ultimately good for us? If you use it correctly (yes, we said “use!” You’ll see why in a bit!) sweat can act as a brilliant natural moisturizer. Read on to find out what we mean!
- Sweating means you’re working hard - Look, we’ve all done it: gone to the gym with every good intention and then just sort of...not really worked out, mostly because we don’t want to sweat. After all, if we did, we’d have to take a shower, re-do our makeup and then wash out our workout clothes. Here’s the problem with that: breaking a sweat is your body’s way of telling you you’re really working hard. If you don’t sweat, that means you’re not really putting in enough energy so the next time you’re at the gym, don’t think about the time it’s going to take to put yourself back together--think about the effort you’re putting in!
- Sweating is a natural moisturizer - We know that at first glance this seems kind of...gross, but hear us out! When you sweat, your sebum production goes into overdrive. Sebum is the oil that occurs naturally in the skin, so by sweating, you’re encouraging sebum to do its thing!
- Sweating makes your body excrete urea - Again, we realize this sounds a little off-putting, but when you sweat, your body secretes urea. As a humectant, urea acts as a natural moisturizer to the body which is why it’s used in cosmetics and beauty products. Urea is also an exfoliant, although in terms of perspiration, urea is really thought to be more of a moisturizer than anything else.
- Sweating makes the skin glow - You know you’ve done it. Caught yourself in the mirror after a great workout and thought, “Wow, I look fabulous!” That’s because sweating gets the blood flowing and allows oxygen to really circulate. You might notice that your skin has a little more color to it when you sweat--that’s why!
- Sweating helps regulate body temperature - This is one of those things that really has to make you marvel at how incredible the body can be. When our skin releases sweat, the sweat is meant to cool on our bodies, cooling down our body temperature in the process. It’s like we all have our own little air conditioners on our person!
- Sweating releases toxins (we think) - Quite honestly, the jury is still somewhat out on this one. Some people are convinced that toxins are released when you sweat, while others insist they are most definitely not. What appears to be true is that some heavy metals have been detected in sweat, although sweat is really 99% water.
And by the way, as if these aren’t enough reasons to make breaking a sweat a regular part of your day, consider this: exercise and sweating are thought to actually reverse the aging process! It’s enough to make you want to run out and buy a treadmill, isn’t it?
How To Deal With Sweat On Your Skin
So, are there any downsides to sweating?
While there aren’t really downsides to sweating in and of itself, there are downsides to leaving the sweat on your body once you’re no longer actively sweating. Remember how we said that sweat was 99% water? Well, that other 1% contains urea, salt, sebum, and ammonia. When left on the skin without washing off, it can really irritate skin, even causing it to break out.
Also, if you’re like a lot of people, you might sneak in a quick workout on your lunch hour which means you may not be removing your make-up or sunscreen before you do. That means that along with sweat, dirt and oil is probably dripping down your face and clogging your pores.
You may also have noticed that your skin has a tendency to experience a burning, stinging sensation a bit when you sweat, especially if you have an existing skin condition. That’s because although sweating acts as a natural moisturizer, it can also dry the skin out since it’s using up the skin’s own water supply.
Luckily, there are some pretty easy fixes to making sure the sweat on your skin doesn’t cause irritation or worse. Here are some tips for making sure you don’t sweat your way to bad skin:
- Make sure you cleanse your face before a workout or sweating in general: You thought we were going to say wash your face after your workout, didn’t you? Well, we’ll get to that, but it’s also super important that you clean your face prior to working out; otherwise, all the dirt, oil, make-up and sunscreen that’s on your face will mix with the sweat and clog your pores.
- Wash your face immediately after sweating: Even if you can’t do your entire skin care routine at the moment, a simple, surface cleaning of your face will help keep dirt, oil, and sweat from getting in your pores and/or irritating your skin.
- Exfoliate your skin: It’s probably best to give it an hour or two after you’ve worked out, but you’ll probably want to exfoliate the skin at some point after your workout. This is to really make sure you rid of all the dirt, oil, and sweat that may have lodged in your skin during your workout.
- Moisturize your skin: As we said before, although sweating can moisturize the skin, it can also rob it of moisture, since it uses the body’s own moisture.
- Make sure you’re using a clean washcloth or towel: If you’re like most people, you might not bring a new towel with you every time you go to the gym. That means that the towel or washcloth you’re using is probably dirty and even contains your old sweat (yuck!), so make sure you’re using a clean towel or washcloth every time you go to the gym--and make sure not to use the same towel on your face that you used on the machines!
- Try not to rub your face on your clothing: You’re running/working out/dancing, etc., and without even thinking about it, you wipe your sweaty face with the back of your sleeve. Or your tank top. Or that sweatshirt you’ve got wrapped around your waist. Not a good idea! Just like towels and washcloths, clothing can trap dirt and bacteria and should not be used to dry the sweat off your face!
As you can see, the benefits of sweating far outweigh the downsides so whenever you get the chance to break a sweat, do it! Just remember to wash your face afterwards!