As an athlete, you probably push yourself hard in the gym and sweat buckets. We all love to work hard and ride the gain train, but not at the expense of clear skin! You’ve probably been told that sweat can cause acne, but is it true? We’re here to tell you: don’t sweat it. Perspiration isn’t the enemy of clear skin, especially when you equip it with the right Skin Care System.

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Sweat itself doesn’t cause acne. Actually, the opposite is true! Sweating releases an antibacterial protein that kills common bacteria that may cause acne.
  2. Athletes are prone to building up more dirt and bacteria on their face during and after an intense workout, and leaving this stuff on your face post-workout can worsen skin.
  3. A solid skin care routine can help keep your pores clear of any blemish-causing debris, helping you achieve clear skin no matter how hard you push yourself.

What’s the Deal?

Does sweat actually cause acne? The short answer is no, sweat does not cause acne directly. The long answer is also no, but other things you encounter during your workout day definitely could. Exposure to dirt and grime while you’re exercising (and afterwards) can indeed upset your skin. Acne is caused by dead skin cells, dirt and bacteria that accumulate on the surface of the skin and clog pores, leading to inflammation and pimples.

While the sebaceous glands produce oil that moisturizes your skin naturally, dirt that is close to the surface of the skin may block these glands and cause a buildup of oil. The excess oil allows bacteria to multiply and cause acne.

Sweating not only does not cause acne, some research suggests that sweating is actually good for the skin and helps prevent acne! When you sweat, your pores open up, which helps to clean them of any dirt or oil that was trapped there. Many aestheticians use steam during facials to help open the pores up and prepare your skin for deep cleaning, similar to your body’s natural sweating process.

Infographic displaying how an exfoliating scrub clears pores

It just keeps getting better. It turns out that sweat actually contains an antibacterial protein which may help prevent acne. The protein, called dermcidin, is released during perspiration and kills all sorts of bacteria found in sweat, helping the body defend itself against potentially harmful and blemish-causing bad guys.

Maintaining Clear Skin

So now that we’ve debunked the “sweat causes acne” myth, let’s move on to discuss what you need to do as an athlete to maintain clear skin. The real issue with working out is that you’re more likely to expose your face to dirt or bacteria when you’re hitting it hard, causing breakouts.

If you perform exercises where you touch the ground (push-ups, for example) or touch equipment during your workout, you might be picking up other gym-goers’ dirt and bacteria. Touching your face after touching exercise equipment will lead to an increase of dirt and bacteria on your face. Those hand sanitizing stations and disinfectant wipes are there for a reason — use them before and after you mount the treadmill.

The Best Skin Care Routine for Athletes

Man using a towel to dry his face after washing it

As daunting as it might seem, coming up with a solid skin care routine to help deter any and all workout breakouts is super-simple. All of the products below come together in our Acne Systems. Our foolproof after-gym strategy goes something like this:

  1. After your training, immediately shower and cleanse with our Daily Face Wash. This formula is specifically designed to eliminate all the gross stuff that winds up on your skin when you’re working out.
  2. Twice a week, employ your trusty Exfoliating Scrub in place of face wash. A quality exfoliator will wipe away dead skin cells and regenerate new skin while adding nutrients that soothe.
  3. After your wash or scrub, apply our specially formulated acne cream sparingly all over your face and neck.
  4. Before you step back out into the world, top off the skin with a dab of our men’s moisturizer with SPF. This step is important year round, not just in the summertime, as our skin gets hit with UV rays no matter the season.

The takeaway? Stuff that you encounter while you’re pumping iron or training for your next marathon can clog pores and worsen acne, but there’s no need to sweat the small stuff, so to speak. As long as you take care of your skin as well as you take care of your body, you’ll come away blemish-free.