Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Is Sweating Good For Your Skin?

I think about this question a lot whenever I take a Bikram Yoga class. I have been taking quite a few Bikram Yoga classes lately because it's the only thing that allows me to fully release all of the stress from my day and it's the only form of exercise I can do right now until my quad heals itself.

For those of you who have no idea what Bikram Yoga is, it's what a lot of people consider to be "hot room" yoga. It's a 90 minute class where you do a series of 26 poses, twice, in a room that is 105 degrees. To some people, yoga might not sound like much exercise, but some of these poses are hard to get into and even more challenging to hold for 20 seconds at a time. Add a sauna-like environment to the mix and you got yourself quite the workout.

Did you know that sweating alone can burn up to 300 calories per hour? Thank goodness because when I sweat, I sweat a lot. There's nothing lady-like about my sweat. So even though I am grossed out by the amount my body sweats, at least I know that my body is helping to work itself out. I always finish a Bikram Yoga class completely drenched. This is why I attend class wearing nothing but a pair of shorts and a sports bra. I always have my hair pulled back and am armed with at least two Nalgene bottles full of cold water.

Is sweat good for your skin? Why wouldn't it be? Estheticians use steam during facials to help prep the skin for a deep cleanse and extractions. Could attending a Bikram Yoga class be like giving yourself a mini facial while you workout? Not exactly.

Sweating can help relax the pores in the skin and open them up for easier extractions. This is great if you're in the treatment room, under the watchful eye of a licensed esthetician. When you are working out or taking a Bikram Yoga class, you're just sweating without the facial benefits like an exfoliation, cleanse, mask or massage. Sweat is the body's way of cooling itself down naturally. It's our built-in air conditioner if you will.  Sweating can even act as an anti-aging treatment by providing a toxin flush within our body. This sweat-induced flush eliminates toxins in the body that come from the food we eat and the environment we live in. If these toxins are kept in the body, our skin can age quicker.

Sweat is mainly made up of water. Sweat also consists of minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium. There are two different types of glands involved in sweating. Eccrine glands create sweat as a way to keep our body temperature cool. Apocrine glands create sweat as a response to nerves or stimulation caused an increase in heart rate, like exercise.

It's important to remember that if you leave sweat on the skin for too long, you can cause irritation. Miliaria aka prickly rash or heat rash occurs whenever the eccrine glands are blocked. This can cause red bumps on the skin. An easy way to avoid irritation is to change out of sweaty clothes and take a shower immediately after any sort of prolonged sweat session. Showering helps to keep the pores clean and free of any bacteria or debris.

For those with sensitive skin types and/or skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, be extra cautious with how often you exposure your skin to heat and sweat. Eczema and psoriasis flare-ups can be triggered by the salt in sweat. It's best to protect sensitive skin from sweat by applying a moisturizer all over the skin first, before working out. If your skin is especially sensitive, you might have to skip Bikram Yoga all together and opt to work out in a cooler environment.


  1. I love hot yoga as well. I have noticed, however that I am developing small red vessels on my face and my pores seem gigantic since taking this practice up regularly (3X a week). I have concerns about the constant vasodilation from the heat.
    Any advice or comments?

  2. I take Bikram and absolutely love it !!! Not only does it relieve stress, improve digestion, help to remove toxins, improve circulation, increase metabolism, but it also makes my face glow....with all the sweating that occurs, as if I had a facial....It's a double whammy for me cause I get to work the body and cleanse the skin at the same time.....

    1. Sometimes all of that sweaty goodness from a Bikram yoga class can dry my skin out, even with having combination skin. My recommendation for those with a dry skin type is to wear a hydrating masque during class, just a thin layer. A couple of my favorites are Dermalogica's Skin Hydrating Masque and Dr. Mark Lee's Soothing Mask.

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