The disgusting thing you need to stop doing at the gym

Kristine Tarbert
·Senior Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
Young athlete finishing a training session at the gym, tired of exercising.
Stop doing this at the gym right now. Photo: Getty

Anyone who works out regularly knows a towel is a must-have gym accessory.

But there is probably one thing you do with said towel that you 100 per cent definitely should stop doing, because it’s not only disgusting when you think about it, but also really, really bad for your skin.

Dermal Therapist Dr Giulia D'Anna says one of the biggest skin mistakes people make while working out, is the almost absent-minded action of wiping down the sweat off your face with our workout clothes, hands or a towel.

“Each time we touch our face, we transfer bacteria from our hands to face, or towel to face,” Dr D'Anna tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

“And add into that mix that you might also pick up bacteria from the gym equipment. Yuck.”

Ideally, Dr D'Anna recommends you use a soft, clean towel.

“And it is so much better to pat your skin dry rather than wipe. Even a soft towel, can cause friction on the skin,” she adds.

Other skin mistakes you’re making at the gym

Using a gross, sweaty, bacteria-laden towel isn’t the only thing that is hurting your skin when working out.

Dr D'Anna also says wearing makeup is a big no no, because sweat needs to be able to escape from the skin.

“Often foundation that we wear has lots of little filler ingredients in it to look luminous and smooth, sitting right in the pores of our skin,” she tells us.

“So when we are working out, sweat is being produced deep in the skin, and the tiny little muscles attached to these sweat glands are pumping away trying to push this sweat out. This process is then thwarted by the makeup literally being a road-block. So sweat is trapped in the skin.

“Hello irritation and breakouts. So please cleanse your skin before your workout. Your skin will love you for it.”

Sport, fitness, healthy lifestyle and bodybuilding concept - close up of bottle with water and wet towel in gym background.  Set of personal sport stuff lay on training  bench in fitness gym
If you use a towel on workout equipment, don't use it on your face. Photo: Getty

Avoid the gym after you do this one thing

Dr D'Anna has also stressed that one should avoid going to the gym for at least 24 hours after any kind of facial, skin needling, or even the humble wax.

“The sweat glands are often ‘sealed shut’ due to inflammation caused by the treatment, and this is normal and expected. The skin is working hard to repair, restore and rebalance. If you work out on top of that, it is just too much for the skin,” she explains.

“If you then work out and try and sweat, the sweat will still form but have nowhere to go. This causes a blockage in the sweat gland, often leading to localised infection or acne.”

Serious muscular strong female bodybuilder with ponytail and headphones wiping sweat while sitting in gym next to window. The start is what stops most people.
Make sure to take your makeup off before working out. Photo: Getty

You might be showering too much after the gym

The temptation is to shower often when you’ve had a sweat session, but Dr D'Anna says the water shouldn’t be too hot, and your showers should be quick.

“Hot water again dissolves all the surface oil on your skin, leading to dehydration of the skin,” she adds.

“The skin surface is usually sitting at around a natural pH of 5.5. Water is 7.0. So when taking a long shower, as we wash our skin (including our face with just water), our skin pH rises.

“Add ordinary soap into the mix, and the pH rises to 10. Such an elevation in skin pH leads to a greater risk of skin breakouts as bacteria thrive in a neutral or basic environment.

“Those with sensitive skin will more likely also show signs of increased irritability and redness each time their skin pH deviates north of the usual acidic surface PH.”

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