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Do I Really Need To Wash My Face After Working Out?

ou asked, we answered. If you have questions on how to improve your ride, up your #SOULstyle, or anything else that’s on your mind, we’ll get you the details you need to live your best SOUL life. Send your Qs to and look for the info on our SOULlife blog!

Do you really need to wash your face after working out? The short answer...yes. “This is one of my favorite topics because I’m such an exercise and skin care advocate,” explains Elizabeth K. Hale, M.D., NYC dermatologist, co-founder of Complete Skin MD, clinical associate professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center, and SOUL rooster who's close to completing her 900th SOUL ride!

You should do more than gently wipe your face dry after class, explains Hale. When we exercise, especially in the SOUL studios which get so warm, your blood vessels dilate, increasing blood flow and oxygen to the skin, she explains. Sweat is one of the ways the body tries to cool itself down. Bacteria and oils also accumulate during a workout, and when they linger on your skin, you may be more prone to breakouts.

And while you’ll want to rinse off after class to prevent irritation, breaking a sweat does have potential skin-boosting benefits. “Working out is actually incredibly beneficial for your skin,” explains Rachel Nazarian, M.D., Mount Sinai Hospital, Department of Dermatology. In fact, researchers from McMaster University looked at skin samples of a small group of men and women. Those who exercised regularly, roughly three hours per week had a healthier, thinner outer-layer and thicker dermis layer (a combo that helps prolong the appearance of wrinkles and reduced elasticity). And, “multiple studies have shown that regular moderate exercise may initiate anti-aging processes in the skin by enhancing blood delivery and repair mechanisms,” Nazarian adds. Of course it’s important to note that there are lots of factors that influence skin appearance including diet, lifestyle and sun exposure.

When it comes to your post-workout skin care routine, Hale and Nazarian weigh in on the right way to give your face a little extra TLC below.

So, wiping your face after class isn’t enough to get the job done?

“Unfortunately it’s not,” explains Nazarian. “It’s important to clean skin gently following a workout to remove bacterial and sweat residue that accumulated during your workout. In addition, it’s helpful to cool off skin to prevent breaking of blood vessels and return skin temperature to a normal level quicker.” Even if it’s just a quick splash of water, get into a habit of rinsing off your face after class. “Washing your face immediately after the workout should be non-negotiable,” adds Nazarian.

What’s the best way to take care of skin after a ride?

Ideally you’ll use a gentle face cleanser after class to help wash away sweat, bacteria and oils, explains Hale. The products in the SOUL restrooms are great options, she adds. Use slightly cool (not ice cold!) water then gently pat – no hard rubbing – your face with a towel, notes Nazarian.

It’s also important to take care of the rest of your skin, explains Hale. “A very common issue I see with my patients who are riders is body acne around the upper back and chest area. Even if you can’t shower completely, at the bare minimum, change out of your tight-fitting, sweaty clothes. Garments will trap sweat and clog pores, and that’s when breakouts happen.”

Are there any specific products we should keep in our gym bags?

Look for gentle, non-foaming facial washes, Nazarian says. A few options: Unscented Dove Beauty Bar, Cetaphil and CeraVe, all available at your local drugstore.

What else can we do to take care of our post-workout skin?

“Drink enough water before, after and during your workouts,” Hale explains. “Dehydrated skin shows signs of aging so make sure to consume enough water, including in the form of fruits, vegetables and soups.”

Another tip? Meditate! Take a stroll in the park! Do something that helps you relax. “Internal and external forms of stress will take a toll on your skin,” Hale adds.

Ride. Rinse. Repeat.

Questions or comments? Email! Want to ride? Click HERE to grab a series and book a bike.

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