Is Sweat Bad For Your Skin?

Written for Helen Phelan Pilates & Health Coaching by Molly Lamb owner and founder of Skin by Molly

A common question from my clients who work out a lot is “Is sweating bad for the skin?”

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The answer put simply is no. Not only does it rid toxins from our body, but sweating a small amount can actually help kill bad bacteria on our skin like staph. However, there are several other factors that need to be addressed to understand what’s happening to the skin when we sweat and how to treat the skin post sweat session.

Sweating also changes the PH of the skin. The sweat expelled through the apocrine glands in the skin is responsible for that familiar post-workout body odor. Sweat creates an occlusive barrier on the skin that can essentially “trap” impurities and make-up on the skin. It rids the body of unhealthy and harmful toxins (this is why we feel great after a hot yoga class!), BUT those toxins can sit in the skin if you don’t cleanse soon afterwards causing irritation. 

If it’s a heavy sweat session (think hot yoga or spin class), you should definitely cleanse immediately after if possible. It’s also very important to rehydrate the skin because sweating dehydrates our body. Following cleansing with a hydrating serum and moisture cream suitable for your skin type. Otherwise the skin will dry out if we sweat a bunch then cleanse but don’t apply a hydrating barrier for the skins protection.

To sum things up:

Sweating is natural and healthy! It’s rids toxins and kills certain bacteria. 

A small amount of sweat is fine to leave on the skin (like if your walking around on a hot day, and sweating there is no need to panic as long as your wash your face before bed).

Skin should always be cleansed mornings and evenings - a third cleanse is important if you sweat heavily.


Molly Lamb is a licensed esthetician whose love of skin care developed through her struggles with her own skin. Attending the Aveda Institute in 2012 and working for some of NYC's top spas gave her a profound knowledge of skin care. She believes that beautiful skin comes from the inside out. Diet, genetics, and hormones all play an important role in the health of our skin… When that's not enough, Molly's facials can help get your skin back on track!

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