This morning at the Well + Good offices, we found ourselves in a heated debate: Are you supposed to do your entire skin-care routine before your workout, or after?
There are two camps here at W+G HQ: Some of us are adamant about going through a full cleanse-tone-moisturize pre-sweat sesh, while others are staunchly for doing their beauty routines immediately afterward. One thing we could agree on, though, is that it’s the sweat factor that makes things confusing: Do your products absorb enough that you don’t have to worry about sweating them out while you’re running on the treadmill, or do you need to do your full regimen from cleanse to finish after you’ve spent an hour soaked in your own perspiration?
To clear things up, I decided to consult a pro. “It all depends on when you’re working out,” explains Purvisah Patel, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Visha Skincare. “Your skin-care products will do you more justice if applied to freshly clean skin and can be left on for the maximum amount of time. After workouts, you have more blood supply to the skin, and the products can work a little better.”
So, yes—apply your beauty products post-sweat when your complexion’s more ready to absorb rather than melt off whatever’s put on top of it. “The products will sweat off and not get a chance to stay on the skin, so definitely do everything after,” says Dr. Patel.
If you work out in the middle of the day, however, her beauty tips are different. “Your complete regimen will get washed off and will need to be reapplied before bedtime—bedtime’s the absolute best time to apply active ingredients, as the skin’s clean and the body’s oxygenating and recovering when you are sleeping,” she says. “There is also a body temp and blood flow spike when sleeping that helps with absorption.”
If you feel weird not doing any skin ritual before you get your sweat on, however, Dr. Patel notes that cleansing is fine. “There’s no point in doing the full skin-care regimen before a workout, except for cleansing,” she says. “Then afterwards, re-cleanse your skin. Otherwise, you’ll face pollutants and clogged pores—AKA hello pimples.” So, good news: That’s one less thing getting in the way of getting ready for the gym.
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