Working Out Has Completely Changed My Beauty Routine—14 Finds I'm Obsessing Over

Now that I have reached my 40s, I wholeheartedly believe that exercise is truly the key to my mental and physical health. The rumors are true! Ever since I started working out more regularly, I found myself sleeping better, having more energy, and in an overall better mood. However, I’ve also experienced some other changes that unfortunately aren’t as cool—namely body acne. Ugh! It’s worth it, obviously, but I also want to learn how to get it under control so my fitness routine can be less stressful. That being said, my regular beauty routine has also changed tremendously. Aside from more frequent breakouts, I’ve had to incorporate other new products into my regimen to help with additional concerns and quandaries, like whether or not to wash my processed hair more often. While I’ve curated a pretty solid workout beauty routine, I still wanted to get advice from experts as well as learn just WTF is going on with my body/skin when I exercise.

I figured asking a fitness pro what she does when it comes to her beauty routine was a good start. “When you start working out, your body chemistry changes, so it would make sense that your skin would change or break out,” says Jessica Rose, personal trainer and owner of Rose Gold Fitness in La Cañada, California. Rose says it’s important to try to not touch your face while you work out, especially since you’re also touching gym equipment and machines. When it comes to her own gym beauty regimen, Rose keeps it super simple. “I always try to wash my face immediately afterward. Otherwise, salt sticks on my face all day long,” she says, adding, “I don't usually wear makeup when I'm working out because it can cause breakouts, especially if we're wearing masks.”

Taking care of my bleach-blonde hair when I work out:

My hair is Pamela Anderson–level blonde now, so I’m mindful not to overwash it. Honestly, I can’t believe I used to wash my hair daily. But considering how sweaty my hair gets when I’m pumping iron, I’m tempted to reach for the shampoo bottle. “Nobody should be using shampoo and conditioner every day. That is a given at this point,” says celebrity hairstylist Clayton Hawkins, whose clients include Olivia Rodrigo, Maddie Ziegler, and Elizabeth Olsen. “Obviously, dry shampoos are a great way to absorb oil post-workout, but if you’re not trying to preserve a blowout, I suggest actually getting your hair wet in the shower and massaging your scalp without any shampoo. Just the act of massaging your scalp with the running water will clean it more than you think.”

I’ve been using scalp scrubs more and more, which is a great move, according to Hawkins. “Anyone who works out definitely has oil build-up on their scalps that needs to be addressed. A scalp scrub once a week followed by a good conditioner or mask is a great way to keep your scalp—and ultimately, your hair— healthy. I’m OBSESSED with Sun Bum's Detox Scalp Scrub ($14).

How working out affects our skin:

Aside from all the zits, I have noticed a less-than-dead look to my complexion. Surely fitness has got something to do with it, right? “All of our skin health, cellular vitality, and tissue function is largely contingent upon our cutaneous circulation and a steady supply of oxygenated blood and nutrients running through,” explains Ava Shamban, a board-certified dermatologist based in Beverly Hills. “This supports pores working and our natural moisture network conditioning.” She goes on to say that when we exercise, our heart pumps more blood, resulting in improved oxygenation and circulation to all of our skin cells for vitality and repair. She calls our bloodstream a “fast-track highway system” for our cell’s essential nutrients and its waste removal. Basically, when we exercise, we eliminate more efficiently and clear out impurities. Other benefits? It supports our immune system and, of course, results in that post-workout glow, as well as our anti-aging processes. “A workout is a great part of our overall rejuvenation,” she says. 

When it comes to the downsides, Shamban says that sweat creates bacteria, which can contribute to acne or folliculitis, chafing, rash, or seborrheic/atopic dermatitis. This is why, she says, wearing clothing with wicking fabrics is very important, as well as showering immediately afterward (something, I grossly admit, I don’t always do when I don’t think I’ve “sweat as much”—no wonder I’m breaking out!). “The irritation and increased perspiration with bacteria trapped by tight-fitting workout clothes may lead to a form of acne aptly called acne mechanica,” adds Shamban. She says that it’s best to not use much skincare before a workout. “A gentle cleanser [if you have makeup on] and sunscreen is best, even just tepid water and sunscreen for the early morning.” 

Keep scrolling to see what products I use for my workout beauty routine, from anti-chafing products to no-rinse bodywash.

Shop my workout beauty routine:

While dry shampoo is my BFF, I have been loving this dry-shampoo alternative. You spray it into your hair and then towel-dry it before doing a quick blow-dry. My hair looks good as new; it’s pretty wild.

Whenever I do wash my hair, I take Hawkins’s advice and get my paws on this delicious-smelling scalp scrub from Sun Bum. It makes my scalp feel super clean thanks to the concoction of apple cider vinegar, sugar, and blue agave. 

When it comes to sunscreen, I alternate between literally seven of them but have been reaching for Kinship’s Self Reflect Sport on my fitness days, as it’s sweat-resistant and goes on super smooth.

Megababe has fast become one of my favorite brands. I use a lot of its stuff daily, including its famous anti-chafing stick. Now my inner thighs aren’t screaming at me after spending a sweaty time in Lycra leggings. 

If you don’t have time for a proper shower but don’t want to use wipes, this no-rinse bodywash is magical. You just rub the foam into your skin, and it removes dirt, sweat, and stink!

Deodorant (especially natural) can be a tricky thing. For me, it’ll work for a bit and then suddenly NOT. But I think I’ve found my holy grail—I’ve been using this Megababe deodorant for a while now, and my pits still smell fresh. Using a deodorant also goes well with Shamban’s advice to not use an antiperspirant: “For most, it is best not to use for a workout. Sweat it out! An aluminum-based product can trap or clog pores under arms.”

Shamban recommends a salicylic acid–based cleanser to penetrate pores and fight off bacteria post-workout, and this one is my favorite. “Salicylic acid is an oil-soluble molecule, so it will get into pores through sebum to clean and cleanse,” she says. 

There’s nothing like an invigorating bodywash after stinking up your bod doing cardio! This new one from Taraji P. Henson’s line is glorious. The mandarin-and-ginger scent helps energize and perk me up even more post-workout. 

The mesh towel I used for showering felt like it wasn’t getting all the sweat and gym gunk off from my bod, so I had to look for something new. I’m obsessed with this Japanese shower towel. It’s made with a textured weave that really cleanses and exfoliates your skin without being too rough. 

Honestly, my feet are a mess being holed up in exercise shoes. Lush’s peppermint foot cream is always a savior. The peppermint freshens up my feet, while the inclusion of arnica helps with soreness. 

My zits get a serious beatdown whenever I use this overnight pimple paste. The clay, sulfur, and willow bark formula dries up my pimples so they look much better in the morning—and it doesn’t even mess up my silk pillowcases.

When my pits need a little refresh, I’ll reach for these pads. They contain fruit-derived glycolic acid and antimicrobial peptides that fight against bacteria that cause odor. (I also pack them when I travel.)

My arms and legs can get pretty dry when I’m rolling around doing glute bridges and planks, so I’ve been needing something stronger than my usual body cream. This one contains Drunk Elephant’s signature blend of acids to help skin look smoother and brighter, plus marula and shea butter for tons of hydration. 

I gotta keep my long hair up when I’m working out but find that my favorite giant velvet scrunchies can feel way too heavy. I love these soft nylon ties from celebrity hairstylist Josh Liu. They ensure fewer tangles and breakage, which is much needed for my blonde hair.