Fitness Gear That Can Cause Breakouts

By Hannah Miller

Rockettes in Under Armour clothing


et toned, get tightened, get acne? We’ll take the first two but the last? No, thank you. While exercise produces a host of awesome benefits (improves mood, combats health conditions … we can go on!), the fitness gear that accompanies those squats and sun salutations are putting your skin at risk for breakouts.

From your sports bra to your earphones, here’s some gear that can cause post-workout pimples:

Your pores open up when you perspire, making your skin fair game for breakout-inducing bacteria. When you roughly rub your dirty, sweat-soaked towel onto your face mid-spin class, you’re basically asking for blemishes. Instead, gently dab it on your face and body or bring along some facial wipes. But more importantly, always use a fresh towel for every workout. A wet towel left sitting at the bottom of your gym bag is a breeding ground for yeast.

Yoga Mat
Before you get your down dog on, think about the dozens of bodies that down dogged before you on that same mat. Now, think about putting your forehead on the sweat and oil-filled mat during child’s pose. Eww! To keep your skin clean, thoroughly wipe down your mat before and after class even if you own it. Also, lay a fresh towel on the end of the mat that your face will be touching.

Your long run jamming out to Beyoncé did your body good, but your hairline and chin are left anything but flawless. Be honest. When’s the last time you cleaned your headphones? Probably never. That’s years of moisture and sweat collected on an item that constantly rubs against your skin. To keep breakouts at bay, start giving your headphones a quick clean with a makeup remover wipe daily. Post-workout, give your hairline, ears and chin a rubdown with another wipe.

Sports Bra
Yes, it’s the most important piece to your workout wardrobe, but depending on the fabric blend and the elastic, sweat can build up that can lead to breakouts (especially on your chest!). Combat these flare-ups by wiping down your skin post-workout with some cleansing wipes and be sure to always wash your sports bra after each workout—the sooner you take it off your sweaty bod, the better.

Gym Bag
Since your gym bag is home to sweaty gear and often finds a home on the floor of a subway, you bet it’s picked up some germs along the way! If you’re dealing with breakouts on your shoulders and back, the shoulder strap may be to blame. The friction from the rubbing strap combined with the lingering bacteria is a deadly combination for acne. Start cleaning your bag—the inside and out—with a disinfecting wipe weekly. Also, if you tend to keep your morning’s sweat-drenched workout clothes in your bag the entire day, immediately air that bag out once you get home from work.

Fitness Equipment
Think treadmills, ellipticals and dumbbells—are magnets for dirt and grime. A brigade of buff gym goers shuffles in and out of the same equipment all day long. Thus, when you touch the sweaty handles or bars and then your face, you’re basically welcoming whiteheads. Gym etiquette states that everyone should wipe down their equipment after each use but don’t trust that it’s clean. Give the equipment a full wipe down prior to use and if you’re using a machine, cover the handles and controls with a fresh towel.