Most men may not know it, but it isn't just your muscles that undergo stress and need a recovery period after your workout. Your skin and hair are also put under stress, and it is essential to have a high-quality personal grooming routine before and after you hit the gym to look after yourself holistically.
What happens to the skin during exercise and sporting activities?
During exercise, the general flow of blood in the body speeds up, and the increased blood flow helps nourish skin cells and keep them vital. According to Dr Ellen Marmur, associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine (in New York City), the blood carries oxygen and nutrients to working cells throughout the body, including the skin. This helps the skin flush out toxins through sweat and gives skin cells a chance to regenerate. However, there are also certain risks posed to the skin during intense exercise.
Outdoor exercise without proper sunscreen or sun protection can lead to a higher risk of skin cancer and related skin disease.
Chafing, with increased risk of rashes.
Acne-prone skin can get further inflamed due to increased perspiration. Tight-fitting workout clothes may lead to a form of acne called 'acne mechanica'.
Rosacea, eczema or psoriasis may also get exacerbated during exercise.
- Lifting heavy weights or using sporting equipment such as racquets, bats and clubs can also lead to calluses on your hands if the skin is not properly exfoliated and moisturised.
What should men do to look after their skin during and after a workout?
There are certain simple steps men can follow to look after their skin during and after exercising.
Wash your face with a gentle cleanser after a workout so that the build-up of sweat or external environmental stressors does not clog your skin pores. This is especially important for acne-prone and blemish-prone skin in men.
Use a soothing facial moisturiser to replenish the skin's moisture after washing. Better yet, also get a dedicated body moisturiser as well so that the skin on the rest of your body also benefits from added hydration.
Use a high-quality sunscreen with a minimum of SPF30. Many athletes dislike sunscreen as it may run into their eyes if they sweat. However, if you wear a sunscreen gel or an SPF specially formulated for active lifestyles you will find these are light and protective skin protection products. Humanery has curated an incredible range of sunscreen products for men that you can select from.
Avoid wearing makeup for men while exercising.
What happens to the scalp and hair during exercise?
Similar to the effects of exercise on the skin, the scalp skin and hair follicles also experience sweat. While sweating is completely healthy, not adding moisture back to the scalp and cleaning it properly may lead to scalp inflammation, dandruff, weaker or thinner hair and possibly even hair fall.
What should men do to look after their hair and scalp during and after a workout?
There are certain simple steps men can follow to look after their hair and scalp during and after exercising.
Depending on how much you sweat during the workout, wash your hair and scalp with a gentle shampoo that does not contain sulphates and parabens (which may be toxic or inflame the skin after exercise).
If you wash your hair, you should also use a gentle hair conditioner to replenish the scalp skin with moisture.
Avoid using harsh styling products or heat from a blow dryer if you're getting ready at the gym. A great alternative is using cool air from a blow dryer, followed by a nice sea salt spray for men or hair powder to add texture, style and volume to your hair after your post-workout shower.
How do muscle recovery bath salts, bath soaks and supplements work?
Bath salts (typically Epsom bath salts) and warm bath soaks can be a great way to relax your muscles in a bath after an intense workout. This allows your muscles to relax and for your blood flow to normalise after an intense uplift during exercise. Epsom salts are a chemical compound made of magnesium, sulphur and oxygen. Epsom salt breaks down into magnesium and sulfate when placed in water. A soak in an Epsom salt bath may allow magnesium and minerals to get absorbed into your body through the skin. While there is limited scientific evidence to support this theory, many high-performance athletes report that Epsom bath salts help them relax their muscles, reduce swelling and alleviate pain from arthritis. Some also suggest it helps promote more restful sleep, which is crucial for effective recovery from exercise. Naturally, reduced pain and relaxed muscles can help their recovery and improve performance for future workouts or sporting endeavours.
Similarly, post-recovery supplements such as protein powders, massage oils and wellness supplements can help provide the support or relief the body needs to rebuild any wear and tear caused during exercise and aid in providing more restful sleep.
What is the ideal set of essential personal grooming products for men looking to level up their pre and post-workout regime?
Here at Humanery, we prefer to keep things simple. Here's our recommended list of product types you should get to take your pre and post-workout self-care to the next level.
1. Sunscreen and sun protection, if your exercise and sporting endeavours take you outdoors.
2. A gentle face wash and a body wash that is moisturising, gentle and an effective cleanser.
3. A light moisturiser for your face and if you can carry it, a dedicated moisturiser for the rest of your body (avoid using a body moisturiser on your face as it can be heavier than a face moisturiser, which may cause an imbalance in the sebum levels of your facial skin). Here at Humanery, we have curated a number of travel-friendly and light men's skincare products that can easily fit into your gym kit!
4. A natural deodorant - an essential post-shower step, and one that will not irritate the skin in your armpits.
5. A hand salve or hand balm to help the skin on your hands recover after all that weight lifting and hard work (and prevent nasty calluses)!
6. Sea salt spray or a hair powder for men to complete your hair look and style!
7. Post-workout recovery nutrition and skincare supplements to take after exercise.
8. Bath salts, bath soaks, and sleep supplements are to be used once in a while after a particularly intense workout to support a speedy bounceback!
9. And finally, don't forget your feet! You can use a foot spray or a foot peel to look after the skin health of your feet. They also undergo severe stress during workouts, and you can help the skin on your feet recover effectively with dedicated foot skincare!
Shop the expertly curated collection of sunscreens, post-workout recovery supplements, bath salts and bath soaks, and skincare and haircare products for men. Level up your pre and post-workout regimes, stock up on products that can easily fit into your gym bag and travel with you on your sporting endeavours!