A Famous Dermatologist's Why-Didn't-I-Think-of-That Skin-Care Advice For Gym-Goers

I probably didn't think of it because I'm not a famous dermatologist.
Publish date:
March 3, 2015
skincare, working out, dermatologists, gyms, dr. dennis gross skincare, toners, face oils

One of the many perks of being a beauty writer is that it’s not at all weird for me to aggressively ask a famous dermatologist for beauty advice for free. One of the downsides is that their answers usually don’t surprise me. Drink water, eat healthy, blah blah blah. So you can imagine what a shock to the system it was when I tried to solicit advice from Dr. Dennis Gross and his answers were actually informative and eye-opening.

I walked up to the good doctor and asked him to tell me what I should do with my skin. It's sort of egotistical of me to think a man that doesn’t know me would dispense this advice, but an awesome dialogue ensued. (Dr. Gross is really passionate about what he does, which explains why his products are so good.) Shortly into the conversation, I started talking about some breakouts I’d been having that I thought were related to working out, and what I got back from DDG was pure gold.

After telling me what I can do now (use the Clarifying Colloidal Sulfur Mask to clear up my pimples) and later (use Alpha Beta Peel to even out my skin tone), he gave me sage advice to share with anybody who works out. It went like this:

Dr. Dennis Gross: “Beware of wiping your face with industrial towels.”

Me: “Huh?” (Guys, I’m super eloquent).

DDG: “Bring your own towel to the gym. These industrial detergents and bleaches are all about strong, antiseptic cleaning. If they don’t rinse them thoroughly, there could be residue of detergent left on that towel. And then if you put it to your face when you’re sweating, you essentially have liberated it, and now you have detergent and bleach on your skin.”

Me: (I can barely speak because my mind is now blown.) “This makes sense, but I never would’ve thought of that in a million years.”

DDG: “Welcome to my world. Especially if you have sensitive skin, make sure to bring your own towel.”

Me: (Remembering that I’m supposed to be interviewing this man) “Do you have any other post-gym tips for people with sensitive skin?”

DDG: “Of course always work out with your makeup off. Also, if you’ve worked out and your skin is overheated, it may not be the time to use an alcohol-based toner. That’s just going to make your skin even more red, and you can risk breaking blood vessels. Avoid that for at least an hour afterwards.”

Me: “Are there any products that you would recommend using after the gym?”

DDG: “Something to replenish your skin’s natural moisture barrier, since you’ve depleted it of nutrients. The Triple C Peptide Firming Oil is good for that.”

Me: “See, it’s funny you say that, because I think people think they need to scrub away the sweat and dirt and oil. I don’t think people think about replenishing their skin after the gym. Myself included.”

DDG: “You absolutely need to replenish your skin after a workout. You’re sweating out nutrients, you’re wiping your face, you’re depleting.”

I’m telling you all, I’m forever changed by this conversation. Since talking to Dr. Gross, I have totally revamped my pre- and post-gym skin-care routine.

In my gym bag, I’ve started carrying Simple Skincare Micellar Cleansing Water to remove my makeup before class without drying my skin out. Clearly, I’ve started carrying my own towel in my bag as well. After class, I do a quick rinse-off with water, and I’ve been using an alcohol-free toner like Darphin Intral Toner (it has chamomile, for when my skin is hella sensitive) or Fresh Black Tea Age-Delay Toner (on days when my skin is feeling normal or more oily than usual). I’m trying to wait until my skin cools down before applying much more than water because I don’t want to irritate it.

I’ve also been carrying the Skyn Iceland Icelandic Relief Eye Pen, because eyes need love, too. This guy is portable enough to carry around in my purse, so I should just start taking it with me everywhere to help with my under-eye bags, which are out of control these days.

Finally, I’ve been making sure to really rehydrate my skin before bed. I’m a night-workout person, so when I get home, I can really use a ton of moisturizing products, like the aforementioned Dr. Dennis Gross Triple C Peptide Firming Oil. If I ever start working out in the morning (honestly, it will probably never happen) then I’ll switch to a lighter-weight moisturizer, so I can be sure it doesn’t irritate my skin but still replenishes.

I honestly can’t believe how much more effort I’ve been putting into my skin routine after the gym, but it is 100 percent worth it. If I’m going to work out so I can LIVE FOREVER, why not have my skin look great while I’m at it?

What's your après-gym skin-care routine? Are you going to stop using the gym's own towels?