Scrubs, powders, peels, brushes… When it comes to cleansing sweat-soaked skin, don’t take a sandpaper approach. Find your sloughing sweet spot based on your skin type with a little help from Hip & Healthy! Here are our top post-workout cleansers of choice.
The results of a recent study carried out at McMaster University, Ontario, suggest working out can actually stave off signs of skin ageing. As well as setting off a convoluted chain of chemical reactions, a climbing heart rate boosts your circulation, so skin cells are flooded with oxygen and nutrients, and lingering free radicals are flushed away. As you perspire, your pores give dirt and impurities an out, but it’s a two-way street and sweat left on the surface of your skin will plug pores and dull down your complexion. So how do you prolong a post-workout glow? Exfoliate, of course.
Cutting through surface sweat and dead skin cells is one thing, but how low should you go? The answer depends on your skin type, according to skincare expert Malvina Fraser. If you reckon your complexion comes under the catch-all category ‘normal skin’ (so you don’t have a predisposition to breakouts or flaky flare-ups), Malvina suggests using a scrub, 2-3 times a week, comprising minuscule, non-scratchy granules. Hip And Healthy loves The Body Deli’s Blueberry Fusion Micro-Scrub, £28; it’s packed full of brightening antioxidants and will instantly pep up your complexion and even out your skin tone.
Sensitive skin types should swap micro beads for softening powder scrubs; “Scratchy exfoliators will inflame your skin,” points out Malvina. Unlike gritty formulas, super-fine powder exfoliants (which are big news in the Asian skincare market) are gentler and contain fruit enzymes to dissolve the glue that binds dead skin cells together. As well as fresh pineapple enzymes which swells into a cloud-like creamy foam when mixed with water are brimming full of soothing organic sweet pea flour. It’s gentle enough to use every day, and you can even buff it into your lips. As well as fresh pineapple enzymes, One Love Organics Brand New Day, £34, which swells into a cloud-like creamy foam when mixed with water, is brimming full of soothing organic sweet pea flour. It’s gentle enough to use every day, and you can even buff it into your lips.
If you have oily or congested skin, it’s important not to over-exfoliate; “It can actually cause your skin to dry out and produce even more oil,” according to Malvina. A chemical exfoliant is your best bet, containing a beta hydroxy acid (or salicylic acid), like Aveda Botanical Kinetics Exfoliant, £17. As well as antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, BHAs act like a peeling agent, loosening dead skin cells and breaking down a fibrous protein called keratin (which can block hair follicles). Apply after cleansing, in lieu of a toner, to sweep away spent skin cells.
“When it comes to dry, or sun-damaged skin, obviously moisture is key,” says Malvina. “But you need to prime your skin so it can absorb hydrating products, and exfoliating can actually improve skin’s ability to hold on to moisture.” Look out for alpha hydroxy acids (such as lactic acid) on product labels. AHAs don’t penetrate the pore lining, they exfoliate on the surface of skin, and have the added benefit of increasing the skin’s water content. Colbert MD Intensify Facial Discs, £52, mimic the effect of gentle microdermabrasion; they’re pre-moistened pads containing lactic acid, which slough away dead skin cells and soften fine lines, wrinkles, age spots and hyperpigmentation. Another sensible option for dry skin is a handheld sonic brush; it’s easier to control the level of exfoliation with a manual tool like this than it is with a chemical exfoliant. Clinique’s Sonic System Purifying Cleansing Brush, £79, comes with two types of bristles; firmer, shorter ones to target areas prone to clogging, like the t-zone, and softer, longer bristles for delicate areas, like your cheeks where there are less oil glands.
There’s a fine line between showing your skin some TLC and giving it tough love, but you can do right by your dermis by being prescriptive when it comes to your post-workout exfoliator. And, regardless of your skin type, Malvina stresses the importance of staying hydrated throughout your workout, “The higher the water content in perspiration, the lower the chance of skin irritation.”