A few extra minutes in the locker room can make all the difference in keeping your complexion healthy, hydrated and breakout-free. We asked New York City dermatologist Dr. Julie Russak for her best post-gym skincare tips.
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Healthy skin post-workout starts before you step off the treadmill. Sweating can be a great way to detoxify your skin, says Russak, but touching the same machines and equipment as a day's worth of gym rats is a great way to spread bacteria to your skin. Do your best not to touch your face during your workout. And if you're a hair care junkie, pull your strands back. Otherwise, any hair products you used that day could drip down onto your face or neck, clogging pores and causing breakouts. (Already prone to breakouts? We have The Best Skin Care Routine for Acne-Prone Skin.)
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The number-one mistake people make after a workout? "Being too aggressive with their skin," says Russak. Resist the urge to over-scrub: even the most killer spin class doesn't call for major exfoliation. Too much exfoliation can dehydrate your skin, lead to eczema or exacerbate acne. Instead, Russak suggests, washing away sweat with a gentle cleanser like Cetaphil ($12; jet.com).
Don't Forget Your Body
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Don't forget it's your whole body that just crushed those deadlifts, not just your face. Waiting until you get home to cleanse your body can lead to clogged pores. Instead, stash a deep-cleansing body wash in your gym bag. Russak likes Glytone Exfoliating Body Wash ($20; amazon.com): it contains lactic acid, a gentle exfoliant.
Don't Skimp On Moisturizer
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As much as it might feel like it, the sweat session you just finished is not exactly quenching your skin with moisture. After you wash your face, you'll still need to slather on moisturizer to replenish water your skin lost during your workout. If you're breakout-prone, go for an oil-free moisturizer, like Mario Badescu Oil-Free Moisturizer ($28; nordstrom.com)—it replenishes moisture without clogging your pores. For dryer skin, try a rich cream that's light enough to absorb easily into your skin, like Cerave Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM with SPF 30 ($15; ulta.com). And while you're at it, give your limbs an extra dose of TLC with a rich body cream, like Vanicream ($12; jet.com). Speaking of moisturizer, we have The Best Skin Care Routine for Dry Skin.
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If you've just finished an activity that gets your heart rate way up, like spin or hot yoga, don't stash your water bottle as soon as you step out of the studio. Because your body loses so much more moisture in heated environments, you'll need to keep hydrating post-workout for your skin to recover.
Nail I-Just-Worked-Out Makeup
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In theory, we should all be stepping out of the gym looking like the workout goddesses we are, all dewy skin and rosy cheeks. In reality—if it was a really, really good workout, that is—we're a sweaty mess. Fake your fantasy post-gym look by covering redness with pressed concealer, like MAC Studio Finish SPF 35 Concealer ($19; maccosmetics.com), and a finishing powder, like Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder ($20; Sephora.com) to reduce shine.
Load Up On SPF
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Running home from yoga? You go, girl, but don't forget to apply sunscreen before you hit the pavement—and not just to your face. "Almost all the patients I see with melanomas on their legs are runners," Russak warns. "Remember: ALL exposed skin needs to be covered with sunscreen!" If you hate the feeling of sunscreen running into your eyes when you sweat (let's face it—even the sweat-proof ones aren't immune), Russak suggests Colorscience ($64; available at Sephora), a brand of pressed powder with SPF 50.