Skincare Products You Should Be Using Before & After Workouts

That’s why.

When former beauty editor Joie Goh first started working out in 2016, she started experiencing breakouts — but these weren’t straightforward pimples on the surface of her skin. “They were small, painful, and deep under the skin,” she recalls. They were almost similar to cystic acne. It didn’t take her long to realise that the pimples were coming from her workouts.

The former beauty editor, Joie Goh, has since gone full-time at WeBarre, leading their signature and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) classes. Photograph by Tung Pham.
The former beauty editor, Joie Goh, has since gone full-time at WeBarre, leading their signature and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) classes. Photograph by Tung Pham.

She was taken aback. Back then, she was a beauty editor with almost a decade worth of beauty experience under her belt. Yet, this was a new skincare problem to her. “The thing is because I didn’t use to workout so regularly. I wasn’t sure how to take care of the skin,” says the current WeBarre instructor. “So I started experimenting with products and routines — tea tree oil, scrubs, charcoal masks.”

After numerous trial and error with different products throughout the years, the 32-year-old came up with a trustworthy skincare regime which has kept the pimples and acne at bay.

After Goh started working out, she had to figure out a new skincare regime to zap the sweat, sebum, and dirt. Photograph by Tung Pham.
After Goh started working out, she had to figure out a new skincare regime to zap the sweat, sebum, and dirt. Photograph by Tung Pham.

Goh’s anti-acne skincare regime begins before she steps into the WeBarre studio. “I teach very early in the morning. When I’m up, I don’t use a cleanser to wash my face — I would have my creams and serums on. I splash water on my face and towel dry,” says Goh.

While Goh usually gets her stash of Stridex's 2 percent-strong salicylic acid pads from iHerb, beginners to acid skincare products may want to opt for the 1 percent-strong Stridex for a starter. Photograph by Tung Pham.
While Goh usually gets her stash of Stridex’s 2 percent-strong salicylic acid pads from iHerb, beginners to acid skincare products may want to opt for the 1 percent-strong Stridex for a starter. Photograph by Tung Pham.

After she pats her skin dry, she takes a piece of Stridex salicylic acid pad to wipe down her face. “Salicylic acid keeps your pores clean and dissolves impurities which keeps the pores clean of bacteria, dirt, dead skin cells. It’s a mild exfoliant and prevents stuff from clogging pores.” However, salicylic acid is drying on the skin and reacts adversely to sunlight.

Goh carries her Kose sunscreen around in her bag. Whether you are using an acid skincare regime or not, you should always use a sunscreen. Photograph by Tung Pham.
Goh carries her Kose sunscreen around in her bag. Whether you are using an acid skincare regime or not, you should always use a sunscreen. Photograph by Tung Pham.

Goh then chases it with a hydrating sunscreen. She recommends Kose’s Sekkisei Sun Protect Essence Gel with SPF 50, Mamonde’s Everyday Aqua Sun Cream, and Kiehl’s Ultra Light Daily UV Defense SPF 50.

While these sunscreens leave the skin with a dewy finish, Goh prefers a matte look to her skin. “I like a little matte finish so I apply a small dab of Pixi’s Flawless & Poreless Primer on my T-zone to kill the shine from sunscreen.”

Goh gently dabs Pixi's Flawless & Poreless Primer across her T-zone to dull the shine. Photograph by Tung Pham.
Goh gently dabs Pixi’s Flawless & Poreless Primer across her T-zone to dull the shine. Photograph by Tung Pham.

She then rounds her skincare regime up with some point makeup — she fills in her eyebrows with Etude House’s Drawing Eye Brow pencil and adds a tint of colour to her lips with Clé de Peau Beauté Lip Glorifier — before heading out for her classes.

Goh fills in her eyebrows with Etude House's Drawing Eye Brow pencil. Photograph by Tung Pham.
Goh fills in her eyebrows with Etude House’s Drawing Eye Brow pencil. Photograph by Tung Pham.

Goh’s classes are demanding — on the day we met her, a male student was falling over, wincing in pain and catching his breath. She works out with her students and was sweating buckets by the end of the class.

“When you exercise, you sweat and your internal temperature rises. Your pores will dilate because of the heat,” Goh explains. “The pores dilate and produce sweat and sebum. Bacteria will settle on your face.” Once you step out of the class and into the car or cafe for brunch, your skin starts to cool down. The pores will then close, locking in all that sebum, sweat, dirt and bacteria. Inflammation then brews within the pores, giving rise to those mysterious painful, nasty pimples.

By the end of every class, Goh is flushed and sweating through her Lululemon workout gear. Photograph by Tung Pham.
By the end of every class, Goh is flushed and sweating through her Lululemon workout gear. Photograph by Tung Pham.

There’s one simple way to get rid of all that impurities — a post-workout face cleanse. “It’s important to cleanse afterwards — at least within an hour after working out,” Goh advises. She notes that it’s insufficient to cleanse with mere soap. You need a makeup remover or cleanser to dissolve all that residual makeup, dirt, sweat and sebum in your pores.

“I prefer to use an acne care micellar water. It cleanses, dissolves the oil, but also hydrates — quite multi- tasking,” says Goh. Otherwise, any makeup remover will do, be it makeup-specific cleansing wipes, oils, milks, or balms. She then layers on sunscreen, primer, and full makeup if she is heading out.

Goh’s workout-induced pimples stopped appearing two weeks after she started cleansing her skin properly after exercising. “It takes about a week or two for existing acne to go away, and I noticed that no new ones were appearing,” she recounts.

She now carries in her a bag a small bottle of micellar water to cleanse her skin right after her workouts. If the entire skincare regime is too much for you, there is only one key step — cleanse and cleanse.