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How to Calm Red Skin After a Workout

No More Redness

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A heavy-duty cardio workout can leave you feeling empowered and revitalized. But there's one side-effect that isn't exactly relished by all. If you're a fair-skinned runner, that so-called "healthy flush" might come across more like scarlet fever, making any post-gym activities slightly more embarrassing than necessary.

So what exactly causes your skin to turn this obnoxious level of red, and how can you get it under control ASAP? "During exercise, your body and muscles generate energy causing the blood vessels in your skin to dilate," says Jessica Weiser M.D. with New York Dermatology Group. "This allows the heat to escape through the skin and maintain a normal body temperature." Thankfully, it's easier to reduce the rosiness than you think. Try these derm-approved tricks to prevent and minimize inflammation without having to compromise your workout. (Psst...We have 6 Secrets for Amazing Skin.)

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Exercise In Cooler Environments

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Going for a run under the hot, summer sun may seem like a good idea (you're finally out of the office!), but higher temperatures will only make matters worse for your skin. Dr. Weiser suggests exercising in a cooler environment and drinking plenty of fluids in order to reduce facial redness. So, pack a cold water bottle and head to the gym instead of opting for your outdoor workout routine on those extra hot days. (Here are 11 Heat-Related Workout Inflictions to Watch Out For.)

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Take Time to Stretch

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Besides reducing muscle tension and increasing circulation, taking time for a gentle stretch after your workout also allows you to effectively cool down your body temperature and in turn, diminish excess redness. "Make time to gradually reduce your heart rate at the end of your workout," says Dr. Weiser. Once your body is back to its normal heart rate, heat energy will dissipate, causing the vessels to constrict again. (Check out The Only 5 Stretches You Need!)

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Apply a Milk-Soaked Compress

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Similar to the benefits of placing a cool compress on your forehead when you have a fever, applying one to a reddened face post-workout will help ease the extra heat. "The cold temperature, pH levels and proteins in a milk compress all have a heat drawing effect on the skin, which lessens the redness," says Shereene Idriss, M.D. with Wexler Dermatology. Soak a washcloth in cool milk and apply to your face in order to pull away the extra warmth and contract blood vessels for a fast-acting effect.

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Invest In Anti-Inflammatory Products

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If you're in a bind and need to reduce your flushed face quickly, buy a few calming skin care products to stash in your gym bag. First, wash your face with a cooling cleanser like the Avene Antirougeurs Redness Relief Dermo-Cleansing Milk ($28). Then, Dr. Weiser recommends coating your skin with a lotion containing the blood vessel constricting ingredient Xanthine, which is found in La Roche Posay Rosaliac Visible Redness Neutralizing Moisturizer ($38) to promote speedy relief.

If you have a bit of extra time on your hands, apply a calming face mask like the Boscia Cool Blue Calming Mask ($15 for pack of 6) for twenty minutes after a high-intensity workout. The mask contains an ingredient called sea whip algae that works as a potent anti-inflammatory to refresh and soothe any visible irritation.

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Take Intermittent Breaks

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If you need to head straight back to work after your lunch-break workout, try incorporating miniature breaks during and after your workout. "Doing lower intensity exercises and intermittently taking breaks will bring down your heart rate to help relieve redness before it gets out of hand," says Dr. Weiser.

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