Mind, Body, Soul, (Skin) - Quarantine Edition
It’s currently day “I-can’t-even-keep-track-anymore” of self isolation and it feels like our world has come to a full stop; the environmentalist in me can’t help but admit that this is a well deserved break for Mother Nature. However, with nothing but free time for the next few weeks, I can guarantee that we’ve all already spent an excessive amount of time switching through the same couple of apps on our phone - and at least once have stumbled upon a post that has caused us to consider working out. If you’ve been contemplating it, here I am convincing you that even 45 minutes of hard work, persistence and discipline everyday will help you achieve not only your dream body, but your dream skin as well.
Your skin is a precious entity; as all worthwhile things do, it also requires a high degree of care, patience, and maintenance to keep it glowing and healthy. The quality of skin is affected by a variety of lifestyle decisions, habits and routines - for example, products you use, the food you consume, and your daily workout can potentially be one of them. Studies and research have suggested that your daily workout may aid in evening out skin tones, flushing out toxins from your body, and increasing blood flow and circulation.
So you’ve gone ahead and put on your favourite workout outfit and grabbed your yoga mattress and you’re asking me - what’s the first step to keeping a healthy routine that will allow my skin to truly thrive? Well, you’ve heard it before - never, ever, go to sleep with makeup on your skin; the same rule applies to working out. It’s extremely important to ensure that you sufficiently clean your skin prior to exercising, to minimize any possibility of clogging your pores with makeup or other skin-care products. It’s recommended to remove all traces of makeup from your skin prior to a workout, seeing as it’s the perfect barrier between your skin and pores. When you workout, your pores and glands are opened up to release sweat to allow your body to cool down, but even the smallest amounts of chemicals from makeup will mix with your skin's natural oils, causing pore congestion and preventing them from releasing sweat. Impeding your sweat glands and pores prevents your skin from being able to breathe, making it prone to acne breakouts, blackheads and skin irritation.
If you’re a regular gym goer (or nowadays, an on-your-bedroom-floor-with-a-yoga-mat goer), you may often notice a post-workout glow to your skin. Exercising, particularly cardio, gets your heart pumping, which in-turn results in improved blood circulation.
This allows for the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the skin, keeping it healthy through the promotion of collagen products and glowing through the promotion of new skin cells. For me, working out is a source of contenetment and a way for me to leave my stresses behind, even if it’s just for an hour. However, another added bonus for a skin fanatic like me, is the refreshness that my skin feels afterwards, which genuinely motivates me to continue working out. But this isn’t just your mind playing tricks on you - this “post-workout glow” is a real thing. It is a combination of increased blood flow and circulation in the skin causing flushed cheeks, a dewy appearance from the sweat that releases toxins and clears impurities, and endorphins that your body releases, leaving you feeling refreshed and happier - all factors that lead to a more radiant complexion.
Not only is your skin the biggest organ of the body, but it is also the biggest detoxifying agent of the body (along with your liver). Sweating to the point of feeling like you just got doused in a big bucket of water is one of the best feelings ever - not only because it’s a huge motivator because you know you worked hard to get to that point, but also because of the benefits for the visage. For me, there have only been a handful of times where I’ve gotten to this point of exertion, simply because my body doesn’t produce large amounts of sweat - and it’s perfectly okay if you’re in the same boat. There are various factors that impact each individual's level of bodily perspiration and excessive amounts of sweat aren’t the only indicators of a good workout. However, flushing out toxins through your skin in the form of perspiration is the result of an increased oxygen-rich blood flow in your skin, which allows the skin to receive various essential nutrients and hormones, giving it a healthy and plump glow. Personally, I genuinely go by the age-old saying “no pain, no gain”. For me, this isn’t just a cheesy quote that gym junkies would wear on their t-shirts in the early 2010’s. The deeper meaning resonates with me and continues to motivate me to work out every single day, because honestly, if yesterday was core/abs day, and you aren’t sore to the point of wanting to cry every time you laugh today - did you really work out?
The stress relief aspect of working out is an attractive factor to most people, however skin benefits are another indication of the calming aftereffects of a good workout. Severe cases of stress can result in breakouts, skin irritation, eczema, rosacea, flare ups and even hives. Exercising allows your body to level out its cortisol levels - the “stress” hormone in your body, which controls an individual's motivation, mood, fear and fight-or-flight response. Cortisol is produced in the adrenal glands, released into the bloodstream and transported throughout your entire body. Most of the cells in our body have receptors that absorb cortisol, which is why it has such a big impact on us. High levels of cortisol cause our skin to produce more sebum (aka oil) - too much sebum production can lead to breakouts as a result of clogged pores. Along with balancing cortisol levels, a good workout will also release endorphins in your body, giving you a reinvigorated feeling.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “your skin is a reflection of your health.” Obviously exercise isn’t the only factor that plays into your health, when aspects such as a balanced diet, a consistent sleep routine, and sufficient hydration also need to be considered. However it’s important to recognize that whether it be through home workouts, laps around the swimming pool or an intense game of basketball with your friends, consistently getting your heart pumping plays a significant role in obtaining the nourished skin we all aspire to achieve.