Winter may be harsh on the spirit, but it’s also rough on the skin.
From getting pelted by blowing snow to being cooped up inside without the benefit of outdoor activity, our skin takes a beating.
Kim Delafuente, ACSM-PD, a Spectrum Health community health educator, offers up some tips on how to get through this cold weather season looking (and feeling) a whole lot better.
15 surefire ways to get your glow back:
1. Exercise saves your skin
“There are a lot of small blood vessels on the surface of the skin,” Delafuente said. “As you exercise, the blood flow rises to that level. With the blood comes oxygen. It’s actually the oxygen that helps rejuvenate the skin and helps to get rid of toxins.”
2. Sweat often
Sweating is often viewed as a negative thing, especially for women.
Delafuente suggests we wipe away this perception.
“As we sweat, we’re able to release unwanted impurities from our skin,” she said. “In some people, those impurities can lead to acne or other skin-related conditions. Sweating is a good thing. It’s a natural thing. It’s really the way our body cools itself off. This is an added benefit of exercise that helps to clean out pores.”
3. Wash after exercising
Sweating is great, but don’t forget to wash after exercising.
“The idea is to get the sweat and salt off,” she said. “If you don’t, you’re kind of defeating the purpose. You’re releasing impurities from your pores, but if they just sit on your face, you’re not getting the complete cleansing effect of exercise.”
4. Elevate your heart rate
Anything that boosts your heart rate is a skin-pleaser.
“Walking, running, any type of cardio activity is good for your skin,” Delafuente said. “Dancing is great. As your heart rate goes up, more blood is circulated. With lower level activity, there’s less blood circulating. It’s the aerobic type exercise that’s going to have the most impact.”
5. Sleep is good for the skin
Don’t use this as an excuse to sleep the day away, but the more we exercise, the better we sleep.
“Sleep is a time when our body repairs itself,” Delafuente said.
6. Reduce stress
Exercise reduces stress hormones like cortisol, according to Delafuente.
“As those levels decrease, it can have a positive effect on the skin,” she said. “Stress releases cortisol, which can be damaging to our bodies. It can cause weight gain and is responsible for belly fat. In the case of skin, it can lead to acne and eczema. There have been studies that show exercise can actually help reduce the incidents of those types of skin conditions.”
7. What is “the glow?”
Exercise not only keeps your body fit, it does wonders for your skin. As you exercise, blood flow intensifies and moves toward the surface of your skin, which is known for giving that infamous “glow” to your skin.
“You work out and your skin gets a little more reddish,” Delafuente said. “That’s how your body is cooling itself. As your blood comes to the surface, it helps to keep your body cooler. After a workout, when you cool down, that blood flow is still going to be intensified.”
And that look, for some people, is a motivator to exercise more.
“It’s an added benefit of exercise that sometimes people don’t think of,” Delafuente said. “For some people, this might be a draw. It seems regular exercise has the potential to keep the skin at its best.”
8. If you feel good, you’ll likely look good
Exercise provides mental as well as physical health benefits, according to Delafuente.
“Some of that glow comes with a positive attitude and feeling good,” she said. “The other thing is, exercise does improve immunity. When we have less chronic disease or colds and flu, our skin will naturally look better because of that as well.”
9. Remember that your skin is an organ
You may exercise to keep your heart healthy, but remember your skin is an organ that directly benefits from a workout, too.
“I think people are conscious of their skin, but they don’t think of it as an organ,” she said. “I think when we think of organs, we think of internal organs, but we don’t think externally.”
10. Remove makeup before exercising
Leave your foundation and blush on, and you risk clogging your pores when you sweat.
Instead, remove all traces of makeup before you begin.
11. Wear proper sunscreen
If you’re exercising and sweating, make sure you wear sunscreen that is sweat resistant or that you are reapplying often.
“I think we all know it’s important to wear sunscreen,” Delafuente said. “But I don’t know that people always think about it when they’re exercising. They’ll say, ‘Oh, I’m going to to walk for an hour,’ but they may not think of that as a time they need to use sunscreen. People can also wear a hat to shield their face from the sun.”
12. Forget about tanning booths and spray tan products
“Never a good idea,” Delafuente said.
13. Treat your skin kindly in the face of cold weather
“Make sure you’re covered up appropriately,” she said. “If you have really sensitive skin, you may want to wear a scarf over your face.”
14. Stay hydrated
“Make sure you’re drinking enough water,” Delafuente said. “If we’re dehydrated then our skin isn’t going to be as healthy. We should drink to our thirst. In the winter, especially, we may not be as thirsty.”
15. Wear proper clothing when you exercise
Loose fitting clothing is the best choice.
“Make sure you wear clothing that wicks away the sweat and moisture,” she said.
If your clothing traps sweat in, it may clog your pores, leading to unhealthy skin conditions.