“A sweaty body is a healthy body.”
Whether or not that statement is actually true, physical education teachers around the world have shouted it to thousands of kids as they’ve run laps over the decades. And while the claim is not at all specific in how sweat might help the skin, it just feels right. But is it?
Turns out, sweating is good for the skin in primary and secondary ways. We’ll start with the secondary. Most of us sweat profusely when we exercise. And exercise, it has been shown, stimulates the skin to grow in more healthy ways, particularly in the ways that the effects of aging accumulate over time. This is due to many causes not directly related to sweat, but because sweat is so closely associated with vigorous exercise. We can at least affirm that the old saying of “a sweaty body is a healthy body” is at least partially correct.
So exercise is healthy for the skin – no surprise there. But in what ways might sweating be directly healthy for our skin? For this insight, we’ll look to the book “The Beauty of Dirty Skin: The Surprising Science of Looking and Feeling Radiant from the Inside Out” by doctor Whitney Bowe, a dermatologist. Dr. Bowe says:
“Sweat contains natural alternatives to antibiotics called antimicrobial peptides. The specific antimicrobial peptide in sweat, dermcidin, is pumped onto the skin via the sweat glands and coats the skin, thereby providing protection against infection from other microbes and harmful germs.”
Microbes and germs, another study reminds us, are responsible for numerous skin problems, including pimples, boils, impetigo, and folliculitis. We learn from Dr. Bowe that by sweating with regularity, we can counteract some of the effects that these natural microbes have on our skin’s health.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons that saunas have been so popular for centuries. Although the notion of “sweating out toxins,” Dr. Bowe reminds us, is for the most part a myth.
So sweat is good, but is too much sweat a bad thing? Dr. Bowe has information for us once again. She says, “If sweat sits on the skin too long, it can irritate the skin. Specifically, the ammonia and urea in sweat can cause irritation and inflammation if left on skin too long. The sodium in sweat can dehydrate skin if left too long on the surface, and the evaporation of sweat from skin can aggravate people prone to eczema.”
So there you have it. Sweating is good, and you should do it in dedicated workouts regularly. But also make sure that you hit the showers after working out at the gym.
Of course, there are some skin challenges that go along with sweating. Because you’re likely not going to the gym right now because of Covid-19, you may be forced to work out outside. Outdoor workouts mean fending with the elements: the sun, the cold, the wind, and the dry (or excessively humid) air. Any of these factors can damage your skin. Fortunately, there are ways to give back what the stress of any workout takes from our skin.
Cosmesis Healing Vitamin K Cream from Life Extension , Jade Facial Travel Kit – Normal to Dry Skin from Jadience Herbal Formulas, and Balancing Day Lotion will each have a restorative effect on your skin, whether you’re recovering from a workout, or are merely wishing to moisturize after a cleansing shower. Whatever the case, we hope you find that sweat helps your skin, and that you find a way to get sweaty that works perfectly for your situation.