Style/ Beauty

Sweat spots after working out are totally normal, but uninvited. Here’s how to avoid them

Sweat spots are a nuisance, especially if you’ve recommitted to regular jogs or you love a steamy workout. They’ve even become more prevalent thanks to face masks (which can start to feel hot and sweaty after they’ve been on a while). Grim. But just because sweating may be unavoidable, that doesn’t necessarily mean sweat spots have to be. Here’s everything you need to know about what causes them, and how to give them the swerve.

What causes sweat pimples?

According to Dr Najia Shaikh, Skin Doctor & Founder of One Skin Clinic, “Sweating itself doesn’t cause spots, but a combination of sweat, heat and friction can lead to the clogging of pores (aka acne mechanica) on both the face, décolletage & body.”

Sweat can also exacerbate existing skin issues. “If you already have acne, the salts in sweat can irritate the skin and worsen breakouts,” Dr Najia says. And it can make indirectly make spots more likely. “Irritants like dust and dirt are more likely to stick to moist skin, leading to clogged pores,” Dr Najia explains.

Is sweating good for the skin?

Sweat acne is definitely a thing but sweat isn’t always bad for the skin. In fact, sweat is an essential bodily function. Fitness expert, Diana Booty, on behalf of The Harley Medical Group says, “sweating is great for removing impurities, opening up your pores and bringing freshly oxygenated blood and nutrition to skin cells.” 

How to prevent sweat spots

Sweat is inevitable, whether you exercise or just start dripping the minute you step on the tube. In order to minimise the effects it has on your skin, aim to remove any barriers that create friction and seal the sweat in and keep it up close on your skin for longer than it needs to be. For instance, remove sweaty clothing as soon as you’re able (and is appropriate).  It’s also a good idea to go makeup-free at the gym, in order to let your skin breathe and really reap the benefits. 

“Bacteria and moisture build up close to the skin when you sweat, so get showered and into clean clothes as soon as possible, allowing your skin to dry and breathe,” explains Diana. “When moisture is trapped close to the skin, spots or heat rashes can develop, so as lovely as your athleisure wear might be, try to avoid sitting around in it for too long after your workout,” she adds.

Take advantage of the shower facilities at your gym, or at the very least give your face a quick cleanse in with warm water before heading off. If it’s the morning commute that has you sweating bullets, consider keeping your makeup at work to apply when you get in. That way you can keep your skin clear for the travel and freshen up with a face mist once you arrive.

Top tips for clearing up spots, plus the best acne treatment products that we promise really work

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Can skincare help treat sweat pimples?

Dr Ross Perry Medical Director of Cosmedics identifies the following skincare tips for helping prevent and treat sweat pimples:

  • If you have normal skin, use a foaming cleanser instead of creamier options, which tend to leave a residue of fats and lipids which are more beneficial during winter months.
  • Cleanse morning and night, if your skin is feeling extra greasy opt for a double cleanse in the evening to ensure you’ve got rid of all the excess dirt and unclogged the pores.
  • Use a gentle toner if you don’t already after cleansing. It will help keep skin oil-free and clean whilst reducing the appearance of enlarged pores.
  • Exfoliating a couple of times a week is also advised to get rid of any unwanted dead skin cells and excess dirt.
  • Use a lighter moisturiser during summer or occasions when you’re more likely to sweat (such as the days you’re in the gym or on stuffy public transport).
  • If you are prone to breakouts, invest in a salicylic acid serum.
  • Use an SPF all year. Opt for a gentle sunscreen with a minimum of SPF30 with UVA and UVB protection. Keep it lightweight as it’s great for oilier skin which can be more prone to blackheads and breakouts.

salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is the hero ingredient to help you tackle spots, oily skin and breakouts

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