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You Asked: I Started Exercising, But Now I'm Breaking Out!

You Asked: I Started Exercising, But Now I'm Breaking Out!

Dear Fit,
I just got on an exercise kick and joined a gym. I've been doing 30 minutes of cardio three times a week and finishing with 30 minutes of strength training and stretching. I feel amazing and am starting to lose weight, but now I have a new problem — acne. And it's not just on my face. I have it on my neck and back too. How can I prevent this?
— Blemished Back

Acne and bacne can be unfortunate side effects of exercise, especially in hot weather. There are definitely ways to prevent breakouts caused by sweating.

  • Wash your face before working out to remove excess oil and makeup that can clog your pores. Then apply a facial moisturizer that's made for acne-prone skin such as Neutrogena's Oil-Free Anti-Acne Moisturizer.
  • Always wear clean workout clothes, and choose sports bras and tank tops with shoulder straps rather than racerback style. You want the skin on your back to breathe as much as possible, and if there's material covering it, heat, sweat, and bacteria get trapped, which can lead to bacne. Also, the more your skin is covered, the hotter you'll feel, and the more you'll sweat, which also leads to breakouts.
  • Wear clothes made of wicking material that pulls sweat off the skin.

To find out what else


  • After cardio, wash your face before you strength train and stretch. Also dry the rest of your body off. You can even change into a dry bra and top if you're especially prone to bacne.
  • Shower immediately after you're done exercising. Not only does it rinse the sweat and pimple-causing bacteria off your skin, but the water also helps to cool your body temperature down so you don't continue sweating once you get out. Don't have time to shower? Definitely wash your face and put on clean, dry clothes.
  • Unclog pores and remove dead skins cells from your skin by exfoliating in the shower with loofah gloves. They're gentle enough to use everyday on your face and the rest of your body. Use the gloves with an antibacterial cleanser such as Cetaphil, or soaps that have acne medicine in them, such as salicylic acid.

Whatever you do, don't stop working out. If acne is still a problem after trying out these tips, see a dermatologist.


mehollowell mehollowell 8 years
Clinique has a great bar soap that solves the trick for me.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I've noticed that once I started working out regularly, my acne cleared up marvelously. I think part of it is that the increased bloodflow to my skin is increased and the sweat cleans out my pores so they don't stay clogged up.
EastVillageAmy EastVillageAmy 8 years
This happened to me before, but now I always keep the ponds wipes handy because they don't require any water to use them, so I can do a quick wipe down and that's kept my skin pretty clear (Anna Kournikova tip). And for the body breakouts, I love the Panoxyl Bar, kinda strong but it works so much better than the neutrogena body clear wash.
mamasitamalita mamasitamalita 8 years
same zabrow and lily, when I get back into a regular rhythm, I break out a bunch but then it passes. also, what has in general helped with my acne day to day is just drinking tons of water - I struggled with bad skin for MANY MANY years and saw a marked improvement when I cut out soda and drink water daily. plus if you're working out, rehydrating is crucial, so its a win-win
LilyLyra LilyLyra 8 years
Actually, zabrow, I've noticed that with myself as well! So you're not alone on this one.
zabrow zabrow 8 years
whenever i've taken a break from working out & then restarted, i've broken out. once i get back into the groove of working out most days, my skin magically clears up. call me crazy, but i feel like when i first start working out again, my skin is getting out all of these gross toxins, but once that's done, my skin looks wayyyy better & clearer than when i don't work out for a while.
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