3 Natural Skincare Tips for the Sweaty Athlete
Written by Kaitlyn Kassis
Here are three simple and effective tips for keeping our largest organ (our skin!) healthy- especially if you are someone who loves to get your sweat on!
1) Tea Tree Oil
Tea Tree oil has antibacterial properties that are fantastic for treating and preventing acne breakouts. At night, tea tree oil works great as a natural spot treatment on active blemishes. Tea tree can also be used all over the body to keep blemish-causing bacteria at bay. Mix 2-3 drops of tea tree essential oil per ounce of water into a spray bottle, and keep this in your gym bag to mist your entire face/body post-workout. Not only is it refreshing, but it will also prevent bacteria in your sweat from sitting on your face/body, potentially causing breakouts. This is an especially helpful tip if you are someone who isn’t able to shower immediately post-workout.
*This spray can be made stronger, and used to wipe down sweaty gym equipment too!
2) Witch Hazel Toner
Environmental factors, products we use on our face, and sweat can all affect the pH level of our skin. The acid mantle lives around our outer layer of skin and operates optimally at a pH of 5.5. This protective barrier, secreted from our oil glands, acts as a shield against bacteria and contaminants. In addition, it traps in moisture and keeps the skin soft and supple. Anything that disrupts the acid mantle’s pH level can cause skin irritation. As pH creeps above 6.5, the risk of skin irritation goes up drastically. Toner is a step used in skincare, used after cleansing the skin, and is meant to restore optimal pH balance. It is best to avoid harsh toners that contain alcohol, as these can cause even more drying and irritating to the skin. Witch hazel is a traditional beauty product that helps restore the pH balance in order to keep skin from drying out or becoming irritated.
3) Something in the Water
Staying hydrated is crucial for optimal performance in the gym as well as skin health. Dehydrated skin is much more prone to irritation and breakouts because the skin’s sebum will overproduce oils in an attempt to compensate for the lack of moisture. However, water and skincare goes beyond just making sure you are drinking enough. Depending on where you live water can be “hard,” meaning it contains minerals – like chlorine – and oxidizers that can be irritating to your skin. Hard water also tends to have an effect on soaps, preventing them from lathering properly. Thus, instead of lathering up and washing off, the soap forms a layer of soap scum on the skin, which can be very drying. In order to combat this hard water problem, a shower filter is a relatively inexpensive, yet highly beneficial investment. Filtered shower water not only has positive effects on your skin, it also helps keep hair and nails healthy too!
A comparative study of tea-tree oil versus benzoylperoxide in the treatment of acne. Bassett IB, Pannowitz DL, Barnetson RS. Med J Aust. 1990 Oct 15;153(8):455-8.
The Concept of the Acid Mantle of the Skin: Its Relevance for the Choice of Skin Cleansers. Schmid M.-H. · Korting H.C. Dermatology 1995;191:276–280
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