We know we shouldn't go straight to spin class or run laps at the neighborhood track while wearing a full face of makeup, but we barely have enough time to change into workout gear once we finish at the office. (It's all about prioritization!) Plus, we're going to wash everything off -- from the makeup to the sweat -- later anyway, right?
But we also know that our baby-faced days are numbered. So we asked Dr. Ava Shamban, Beverly Hills-based dermatologist and author of "Heal Your Skin," and Mally Steves Chakola, founder of M. Steves skincare, just how bad it is to wear makeup while exercising. Can we get a pass with waterproof-mascara? Here are the workout beauty facts you should know and put into practice:
Heavy foundations, powders or concealers could contribute to clogged pores.
Lighter makeup formulas will also slide right off once you break a sweat, according to Shamban. (Not a cute look when you're on the treadmill next to a hot guy.) "Eye makeup -- especially mascara, even if it's waterproof -- is a bad idea because it can run and get into your eyes," she says. "And blush is totally unnecessary because your workout will flush your face on its own."
"Since your pores open up while sweating, you don’t want to block your skin's ability to breathe by wearing heavy makeup," Chakola adds. "I personally find that mica and micronized formulas can be small enough to enter open pores and can lead to irritation or breakouts."
It's ideal to remove makeup before beginning a workout by using a cleanser that won’t irritate your skin. Regardless of the form of cleanser, choose a cleanser that is sulfate-free, which won't dry out your skin from frequent washing and is free of synthetic fragrances so you'll avoid skin inflammation.
But breaking into a sweat can make it easier to rid the skin of pore-clogging substances.
"What heat and perspiration can do is warm the skin, making the dislodging of pore-clogging substances easier during exfoliation with a cleanser, scrub, washcloth or device like the Clarisonic in the shower after your workout," Shamban says. "It's the same principal that aestheticians use when steaming the skin at the beginning of a facial."
Don't be afraid to wipe your face with your T-shirt while exercising. It won't hurt your skin.
The function of sweat is primarily to cool the body rather than excretion, Shamban explains. The excretion exception is that some medicines and the metabolic aftermath of sulfur-intense foods like garlic get exuded from the pores.
"Perspiration from the eccrine sweat glands is basically just water and is pretty clean. On the other hand, perspiration from apocrine sweat glands in the groin, under the arms and on the feet contains bacteria, which is why it smells," she says. "While we don't like the odor (unless it's from someone we're attracted to sexually), in and of itself, sweat is not bad for the skin. Keeping ourselves odor-free is more a social nicety than a real health issue."
People often confuse the slick feeling of perspiration with the slick feeling of oily skin. But Shamban assures us that they're not the same thing. "Working out will make you sweat but it doesn't accelerate oil (sebum) production, which is influenced by genetics and hormones. Workouts don't contribute to breakouts unless it's acne mechanica where there is non-stop rubbing from straps, clothing or equipment." In this case, try to avoid touching your face, particularly if you have active breakouts. Use a spot treatment after washing your face with a cleanser containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.
Just think twice before using the towels and shower gel at the gym.
Unfortunately, the laundering at most gyms is not regulated like in hospitals. "The gym towels may look clean, but they are often washed in fragrant detergents and fabric softeners," Chakola says. "While these may make the towel smell clean and look bright, bacteria can live in the fibers of the cloth if the towel isn't replaced frequently or cleaned properly."
Even if you bring your own towels, the gym environment can transfer bacteria onto your skin, whether you're in a Cobra yoga pose or lifting a set of kettlebells. So after your post-exercise smoothie, Shamban recommends hitting the shower no less than one hour after your workout is done. And don't forget your flip-flops.
"Even in the cleanest establishments, consistently warm, damp environments of gyms, showers and pools (where there is a lot of foot traffic) are breeding grounds for highly contagious viruses like plantar warts or fungi like athlete's foot," she says. "The plantar wart virus can live up to 20 months on surfaces."
Be kind to your skin. Don't scrub hard or subject it to scalding water. Take a warm shower and use an unscented soap like the Dove Beauty Bar. "The soaps and cleansers in most gym or public bathrooms are often heavily antibacterial and can really irritate your skin," according to Dr. Shamban.
If you wash your hair, Chakola suggests washing your face afterward to remove hair product build-up from the skin. And if you're in a rush and you skip washing your hair, try using a dry shampoo to soak up sweat and oils and then pull your hair into a cute topknot to hide oiliness and prevent dirty hair from touching your face.
If you use treatment products, Shamban says it is best to wait 10 minutes after bathing and drying your body before applying them in order to give your skin's protective barrier function the chance to reestablish itself. To reduce inflammation on a pimple, place an ice cube directly on it for about 10 seconds on and off repeatedly for about a minute.
There are some beauty routines you can keep for the gym.
Groom your brows with a spoolie beforehand, pull back your hair into a loose low ponytail and add tinted gloss to your lips to fake looking made-up. "Also, if your workout clothes are cute and not your brother's old college sweatpants, you'll just feel better about how you look and not have to worry so much about makeup," Shamban adds.
Moisturizing before workouts isn't really practical, as the lotion is not going to absorb and it can melt and run into your eyes. It can also make your hands slick or make you feel sticky. The exception, of course, is if you're exercising outside, where you'll need a sport-friendly sunscreen.
Chakola likes to moisturize immediately after getting out of the shower to lock in moisture. And since no one likes a foundation meltdown, she suggests letting your body cool before applying your makeup.
10 reasons why you should work it out:
Improved Sexual Function
Here's a motivating reason to get moving: regular physical activity can increase blood flow in a way that has a direct affect on sexual function, explains <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-katz-md" target="_hplink">HuffPost blogger</a> David Katz, M.D., founding director of Yale University's Prevention Research Center At Griffin Hospital. In fact, a recent study published by Emory University researchers in the <em>Journal of Sexual Medicine</em> identified a link between physical activity and erectile function among men between the ages of 18 and 40. "The men in our study who exercised more seemed to experience a protective benefit against erectile dysfunction," study co-author Wayland Hsiao, assistant professor of urology at Emory School of Medicine, <a href="http://www.emory.edu/EMORY_REPORT/stories/2012/01/research_exercise_enhance_sexual_function_men.html" target="_hplink">said in a statement</a>. "We hope that early screening for ED may be a gateway issue to help motivate young men to live healthily on a consistent basis so that they can possibly avoid health issues associated with a sedentary lifestyle, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. We see this as just the beginning."
Changes In Gene Expression
In the burgeoning field of epigenetics, scientists are discovering how <a href="http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1952313,00.html" target="_hplink">environmental factors</a>, including diet, stress and toxins, can change the way our genes are expressed, essentially turning certain genes on or off, and affecting which are passed down from generation to generation. One factor that can play a role? Exercise. Two recent studies have illustrated just how regular physical activity can affect gene expression. The first study, conducted by Swedish researchers illustrated how inactive young adults demonstrated an immediate shift in their muscle cells' genetic material after just a few minutes on a stationary bicycle, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/06/exercise-changes-your-dna_n_1324452.html" target="_hplink">HuffPost reported</a> when the findings were released. The second study, conducted by researchers from the Harvard School Of Public Health, found that walking an hour a day can <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/15/walking-obesity-genetic_n_1345224.html" target="_hplink">slash genetic tendencies toward obesity</a>. We'll walk to that!
Sweating it out could help you get your glow on post-workout, too. As Dr. Katz explains, your skin is the largest organ in your body. And as we slough off tons of skin cells each day, we need to give our body the right construction materials -- healthy foods, regular exercise, plenty of oxygen -- to rebuild. " If you've got good construction material," he says, "you can build healthy skin cells and you have good skin." Skin also tells the story of what's going on inside your body. "The skin is the window dressing. It's really reflective of overall health," Katz says. And that means if your body's natural detoxification system is healthy, including the kidneys, liver and spleen, it'll translate into a healthy looking glow. Those body-sculpting benefits of working out don't hurt either. "Skin draped over muscle looks great, skin draped over an excess of subcutaneous fat, not so much," Katz says.
Here's a health shocker: moving your feet may have health benefits all the way up to your eyes. According to a recent paper published in the journal <em>Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science</em>, <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111024133028.htm" target="_hplink">regular exercise may be linked</a> to a lowered risk of developing glaucoma. Researchers, evaluating 5,650 men and women between the ages of 48 and 90, found that people who engaged in moderate physical exercise 15 years prior had a <a href="http://www.ahaf.org/glaucoma/newsupdates/physical-fitness-could-have-a.html" target="_hplink">25 percent reduced risk</a> of low ocular perfusion pressure, a risk factor for glaucoma. "It appears that OPP is largely determined by cardiovascular fitness," author Paul J. Foster, M.D. Ph.D., of the University College London Institute of Ophthalmology <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111024133028.htm" target="_hplink">said in a statement</a>. "We cannot comment on the cause, but there is certainly an association between a sedentary lifestyle and factors which increase glaucoma risk."
Breaking a sweat during the day may just mean better beauty sleep at night. According to a large study published last year in the journal <em>Mental Health and Physical activity</em>, people who exercised at a moderate or vigorous level for at least 150 minutes a week (that's just over 20 minutes a day) <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1755296611000317" target="_hplink">reported 65 percent better sleep quality</a> than their more sedentary peers. "Increasingly, the scientific evidence is encouraging as regular physical activity may serve as a non-pharmaceutical alternative to improve sleep," study author Brad Cardinal, a professor of exercise science at Oregon State University <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111122143354.htm" target="_hplink">said in a statement</a> when the findings were released. And that, in turn, could have a whole host of additional benefits, as <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/28/exercise-sleep-quality-moderate-weekly_n_1116315.html" target="_hplink">poor quality sleep</a> has been linked to increases in inflammation, high blood pressure, and increased blood glucose levels in people diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.
A Sharper Brain
Looking at your body holistically, what's healthy for the whole body -- good nutrition, plenty of rest, supportive relationships -- is also good for the brain, explains Katz. And the same goes for regular exercise. "If something is good for your brain, it's probably good for you," he told The Huffington Post. "And if it's not good for you, it's probably not good for your brain." In the short term, exercise means increased blood flow to the brain, which can help you stay sharper. So instead of taking that coffee break, which provides an artificial stimulant to help you focus in the short-term, consider a walk instead. "Exercise does the same thing and it confers a lasting benefit into the bargain," he says. (Added bonus: <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/13/sitting_n_1202800.html#s608680&title=It_Ups_Diabetes" target="_hplink">sitting for too long</a> has been associated with a host of health problems, including increased diabetes and cancer risk.) In fact, one Swedish study published last year in the <em>Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine</em> found that taking exercise breaks at work for two-and-a-half hours a week was associated with improvements in productivity. Physical fitness also has brain benefits in the long term, as well. Studies have linked regular activity to <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110907163919.htm" target="_hplink">decreased risk of dementia</a> and <a href="http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/news/20070313/get-fit-improve-memory" target="_hplink">improved memory</a>.
Roughly 36 million people in the United States suffer from migraines, <a href="http://www.migraineresearchfoundation.org/about-migraine.html" target="_hplink">according to the Migraine Research Foundation</a> -- and the oftentimes debilitating headaches take their toll in more than 113 million lost work days each year. Characterized by <a href="http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/migraine-headache/DS00120" target="_hplink">intense pain in one side of the head</a> and often joined by symptoms of nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound, migraines tend to run in families and are <a href="http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/migraine-headache/DS00120/DSECTION=causes" target="_hplink">triggered by a variety of factors</a>, from foods to stress to environmental changes, according to the Mayo Clinic. Treatments can include drugs taken at the onset of an attack and preventive medications -- and a recent, small study suggests that exercise may be just as effective at the latter. The findings, published in the journal, <em>Cephalalgia</em>, suggest that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/11/exercise-migraines-prevention_n_1003794.html" target="_hplink">regular physical activity may be able to prevent migraines</a> as well as drugs or relaxation therapy, The Huffington Post reported when the study was released last year.
The brunt of flu season may be behind us, but regular, moderate exercise may help us to stave off a springtime cold by <a href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10894093/ns/health-cold_and_flu/t/working-out-may-help-prevent-colds-flu/#.T2vztWJAaOF" target="_hplink">upping the body's defenses against viruses and bacteria</a>. A sedentary person is likely to catch two to three upper respiratory tract infections each year, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/07/exercise-immunity_n_1190296.html" target="_hplink">HuffPost reported earlier this year</a>, but a moderately active person can cut that number by close to a third. But the effect reverses in the case of intense exercise -- marathoners, for instance, may have a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/07/exercise-immunity_n_1190296.html" target="_hplink">two-to-six-fold increase in contracting an upper respiratory tract infection</a> in the weeks following a race.
A Sunnier Disposition
As much as we all sometimes dread the prospect of working out, the truth is that you'll actually <em>feel</em> better after you're done. Physical activity triggers the release of endorphins, those feel-good chemicals that produce a sense of euphoria in the brain. (Who can forget the <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0250494/quotes" target="_hplink">famous <em>Legally Blonde</em> quote</a>: "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands, they just don't." Just us?) Recent research has further confirmed the link between working out and happiness -- last month, Penn State researchers published findings suggesting that <a href="http://journals.humankinetics.com/jsep-current-issue/jsep-volume-33-issue-6-december/the-dynamic-nature-of-physical-activity-intentions-a-within-person-perspective-on-intention-behavior-coupling" target="_hplink">people who are more physically active</a> reported greater general feelings of excitements and enthusiasm, The Huffington Post reported when the study was published. "Our results suggest that not only are there chronic benefits of physical activity, but there are discrete benefits as well," study researcher Amanda Hyde, a kinesiology graduate student at Penn State, <a href="http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-02/ps-pay020812.php" target="_hplink">said in a statement</a>. "Doing more exercise than you typically do can give you a burst of pleasant-activated feelings. So today, if you want a boost, go do some moderate-to-vigorous intensity exercise."
Could daily workouts be the real fountain of youth? Maybe so. A Taiwanese study published last year in The Lancet suggests that even just 15 minutes of physical activity a day can <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/16/15-minutes-daily-exercise-live-longer_n_928137.html" target="_hplink">extend life expectancy by three years</a>, compared to people who didn't exercise.
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