Acne, redness and brown spots: Workout woes

Acne, redness and brown spots: Workout woes
Acne, redness and brown spots: Workout woes

You’ve been consistent with your skincare regimen, you stay out of the sun and you’ve resisted those sugar cravings—but you’re still struggling with skin issues? *throwing hands up in the air—what’s a gal gotta do?!

When one door closes, another opens, and sadly it’s not always a positive one. Those months of hitting the gym have certainly paid off in the bikini department, but they’ve also encouraged a slew of pesky skin problems that you weren’t exactly pining for, so let’s take a look at the what, where and whys of workout related acne, redness and brown spots and then get down to the business of treatment and prevention.

Acne. Ugh. That horrid combo of bacteria, inflammation and hormones, a breakout of dreaded acne is a real party killer. While adult acne is typically hormonal, it can also be caused by sweat and bacteria left on the skin after a workout. Keeping a stash of salicylic acid face wipes in your gym bag to quickly pass over your skin post-workout can act as an exfoliant and stop the pores from being clogged. Steering clear of protein drinks containing whey or casein (sorry, that means skim milk) can also help stave off post-workout breakouts.

Hitting your TRX class has done wonders for your back end, yet—in a price that seems unreasonably high—your skin is red, burning and stinging. According to a recent article in Prevention and Fitness magazine, exercise is one of the most common triggers for rosacea. As your body temperature increases, your blood vessels dilate—sometimes more than they should. Flushing at the gym is likely temporary, but over time can become permanent.

Avoiding rosacea triggers like hot drinks, spicy foods, alcohol and extreme temperatures can help prevent the problem, but in order to treat post-workout redness try turning to your skincare routine. If you’re not already incorporating a gentle cleanser, do so, and then stick to other products that are lightweight and fragrance-free. You can also turn to products that contain caffeine and vitamin Cg (vitamin C with glucose), to help stave off redness, and remember that the sun’s rays can make rosacea and redness worse, so be sure to use a non-chemical SPF 30+.

Age spots, brown spots and unwanted freckles—while we’re railing on the sun, let’s not forget that redness isn’t the only skin issue exacerbated by your workout routine. Runners and outdoor enthusiasts often find themselves battling brown spots, due mostly to the fact that their increased exposure to the sun makes them susceptible to hyper pigmentation.

The best course of action, of course, is prevention, and by that we mean sunscreen. And sunscreen. And also sunscreen. Wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30+ is the number one way to avoid brown spots—extra credit for using one that contains vitamin C (which helps prevent hyper pigmentation.) Remember that your sunscreen won’t last all day, so you must reapply, particularly if you’re spending the day on the beach or poolside. And while you’re at it, skip any harsh exfoliators and overly glittery makeup—both can create micro-tears in the skin and cause blotchy discoloration.

You can also use products that contain a soy complex to help fade spots, as well as any one of the countless lightening products on the market that contain retinol. For those who prefer the natural approach, alternative ingredients like licorice root, coffee berry or daisy extract have also been rumored to help lighten those pesky spots.

So take heart, fearless warriors—you can still work out and enjoy a flawless complexion. All it takes is a little KPT (knowledge, prevention, treatment.)

About the Author

Corrie Shenigo is obsessed. No seriously, she has a problem. Gleefully embracing all things even remotely related to being a modern woman, Ms. Shenigo dutifully reports her experiences and findings back to the fairer sexed masses – ‘cause gosh darn-it, they need to know. 

Yes, yes… she’s qualified. A former Editor at luxe mega-publisher Modern Luxury Media, Corrie has been published in Vogue, In-Style, Cosmopolitan, LemonTree and a whole slew of other print magazines, websites and beauty, fashion and lifestyle blogs, as well as her own blog A skilled copywriter, Corrie’s clients have included noted beauty brands like Smashbox, CrushCrush Couture and Market America. She’s been known to moonlight as a red-carpet reporter for various celebrity news sources and somewhere in her studio lives a shiny B.A. in Mass Media-Journalism and Public Relations. 

Covering lifestyle, beauty and fashion isn’t just her job… it’s an adventure. So consider her the Christopher Columbus of women’s media – exploring, taking notes and reporting directly back to the Queen… ahem… that would be you.