Is Exercise Damaging Your Skin?



It’s no secret great skin depends on good lifestyle choices, however some forms of exercise can contribute to skin damage and inflammation.

It is time to take preventative measures by staying educated on the potential skin-damage caused by excessive exercise and learning how it can be treated.

These are three ways the skin can be damaged by exercise:

Overheating the body can excite melanocytes – the cells that create pigment – and create issues with skin pigmentation. 

According to a survey published in the Spring 2013 issue of Rosacea Review, the newsletter of the National Rosacea Society (NRS), more than 80 percent of people living with rosacea said exercise had irritated their skin at some point.

This is because, high-intensity workouts increase blood flow and heart rate temporarily, which can make the skin appear redder in patients who already have vasodilation associated with rosacea.

Solution: If skin pigmentation becomes a major concern, perhaps try more low intensity workouts such as yoga and LISS (low intensity steady state) cardio such as long walks.

The moist, warm environment aggravates surface impurities, creating an environment for bacteria to grow, causing breakouts.  

Yoga mats, bar weights, kettle bells… it’s easy to forget that every piece of gym equipment you handle has been used by a pretty disgusting number of other people before you.

Each time we touch a piece of gym equipment we are coming into contact with bacteria that can cause illness and can be easily spread, leading to acne and nasty skin infections.

Solution: Wherever possible wipe down gym equipment with some anti-bacterial wipes, and never touch your face without washing your hands first.

Exercising outdoors increases exposure to harmful UVA and UVB rays. 

Girl doing a ninja jump from an outdoor staircase
When exercising outside it is essential to apply SPF.

Whilst we might love the feeling of the sun on our faces, our faces themselves might not, so it’s important to get some protection sorted before you start.

UV exposure can seriously damage your skin and is the biggest cause of premature ageing, leading to a breakdown of collagen, not to mention the increased risk of skin cancer. When exercising outside it is essential to apply SPF – whether that be chemical or physical sunscreen.

Solution: Balance your workouts so they are not all outside and always wear physical protection including hats and sunglasses as well as sunscreen.

While of course there can be issues associated with exercise and the skin, there are so many amazing benefits for not just the skin, but the entire body and mind.

As a result, there is a way to protect our skin from the unwanted damage often associated with excessive exercise, whilst also ensuring that you can continue your training.

Preventative measures can be taken by finding products that are rich in vitamins C and B3, such as Synergie Skin’s Suprema C+ (best applied in the morning) and Vitamin B (best applied at night) before moisturising.   

These increase the immunity of the skin and strengthen its barrier from environmental damage. Remember that antioxidants are the key to fighting free radical damage and maintaining a healthy glow.

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Tara Mckenzie


Like many of Bondi Beauty's readers, Tara has two main passions; health and beauty. As a group fitness instructor you'll either find her dripping in sweat during a HIIT class or with a full face of bronze makeup. If you meet Tara in person be prepared to act excited as she tells you all about your star sign and why you should start carrying a rose quartz around in your purse.

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