Smutty Fitness: Sweating
Hi! Just back from the gym, where I do my own intense spinning class because I only have 30 minutes and I go for it! Hills, sprints, hill sprints ... anyway ... I am a sweater, I mean I have always been one to sweat and often buckets. I notice especially on the stationary bike, likely because I'm not moving so there's no breeze, I really sweat, especially from the wrists, elbows, shoulders and I’m sure a lot of other places but they are clothed. Not to mention my face and neck. I love it! Makes me feel like I'm just sweating out the bad stuff. Sweat is basically salt water right? So why then after sweating out every pore's impurities, and a shower, do my cleansing pads come away so gross! Why do I get zits if I don't cleanse properly after a workout? Also curious about sweating at the wrists/elbows/etc. Anyone there a sweatspert?
Sweating, it is how our bodies keep us cool. Some of us sweat a lot and some of us sweat hardly at all (I’m like you, a major sweater). We acquire all of our sweat glands as a young child and some of us end up with more sweat glands than others. As our fitness levels improve our bodies become more efficient at cooling off (and the longer you exercise the more sweat your body will excrete), therefore your body will sweat more and if you are training indoors you may find a puddle of sweat pooled underneath you.
Our sweat glands can be in a higher concentration in some areas more than others and they are controlled by our nervous system so you may notice some different parts of your body will sweat more than others (typically your palms, feet, forehead and armpits). Yes, sweat is mainly water but it does contain a small percentage (approximately 1%) of electrolytes, mainly sodium and chloride.
I love that you love sweating so much, but I understand your concerns with your cleansing pads post shower and workouts. Just because you are sweating it does not mean that you are removing oil and dirt from within your pores. Dirt can accumulate on the skin throughout the day and gyms are not the cleanest of places so if you are touching the equipment and then touching your face (with your hands or with a towel) you can transfer more dirt and bacteria onto your skin. Hair products (conditioners, hair sprays, etc) can run down from your hair and scalp onto your face while you sweat, increasing the amount of oil on your skin. I am sure you are aware too that you do not immediately stop sweating post workout and even after your shower your body will continue to try and cool itself.
Here is what I do post workout to keep my skin clean. I always let myself cool down before I go into the change room or shower making sure that I have taken a few moments to stretch, hydrate and cool off. Once I am in the shower I do not turn the water too hot and after using a really good facial cleanser (my favourite is Fresh Soy Facial Cleanser) I turn the shower to cold and have a quick cool rinse before I get out, making sure I allow the cool water to hit my face. If possible I try not to reapply any makeup, or if I need too I apply it in a cooler room, usually my own bathroom, and I carry with me organic cleansing cloths (my favourite) to wipe down the areas of my face that get oily after my workouts. I also try and use a light weight moisturizer after my workouts and save my thicker, more moisturizing creams for when I am going to bed.
You definitely do not want to over cleanse which can irritate the skin and strip it of its natural essential oils, but you do want to make sure you remove as much of the bacteria as you can that has settled into your skin during your workout.
Attached - a sweaty Adam Sandler after basketball.