We all know that working out is good for us; it can rev up metabolism, burn calories, and release feel-good endorphins that will elevate your mood and keep you focused. However, heading back to your 9 to 5 after a sweat-drenched fitness session can be uncomfortable, not to mention wreak havoc on your complexion.

So how to squeeze in a great workout on your lunch break and still be able to head back to work feeling fresh and clean?

As someone who seems to sweat more than your average gal, I’ve found that if I arm myself with a little preparation and a well-stocked arsenal of beauty products, even sweaty, tomato-faced me can join the ranks of the lucky lunch-hour fitness ranks. Scroll on for a few easy steps to follow when you head to the locker room, so you can walk back into work feeling like the super fit boss without missing a beat.

image by hannah haston 

1. Pony up.

Pre-workout, pull your hair up into a high bun, pony, or braid—using either an old school scrunchie (my personal fave), or a stretchy fabric or spiral elastic. The key is to keep your hair off your neck — which will help you stay cool and prevent strands from getting super sweaty of greasy. The fabric hair tie or scruchie will allow you to let your locks back down after your workout, without the dreaded dent that often comes with a rubber hair tie.

image by winnie au

2. Clean your face.

It may be obvious but after a hardcore cardio class you may just want to head home without cleansing your face first. Don’t do it! Post-workout facial cleansing is a must to wash away sweat, stink, and blemish-causing bacteria that’s bound to make your skin unhappy. Wash your face right after with cold water and a gentle cleanser. Or, make things easy by carrying some facial wipes so you can cleanse on the go, if needed.

I always keep a pack of Josie Maran Bear Naked Face Wipes in my gym bag to remove my face makeup pre-workout, and freshen up my sweaty cheeks after. I love that they’re formulated with grapefruit, argan oil, cucumber, and aloe vera to clean, condition, and refresh my flushed skin — it’s like a trip to the spa in one wipe! Note, if you have acne-prone skin, dermatologists recommend facial wipes with bacteria-busting salicylic acid, like Obagi Acne Cleansing Wipes. For oily skin, it’s best to use a wipe with glycolic or citrus acid to relieve any oiliness. Dry skin is best suited for hydrating wipe, preferably one that also contains oils. 

image by dagny piasecki 

3. Wipe down your body.

If you have access to a shower, a 1-minute bird bath (aka a shower where you don’t wash your hair) will make you feel like a million bucks post-workout. If you don’t have shower access, the convenient full body wipe will be your new best friend. I love the convenience of full-body wipes, such as Yuni Shower Sheets, individually wrapped, super-soft moist wipes that are organic and alcohol-free , and Herban Essentials Wipes, infused with lemon essential oil. Hitting the obvious spots like your neck, chest, underarms, and down there region will leave you immediately refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of your day. Don’t forget to reapply a fresh coat of deodorant after wiping down.

image by hannah haston

4. Change into clean clothes.

Walking around in sweaty clothes post-workout is a major no-no. Not only are gyms breeding grounds for bacteria (and we’re not talking the good kind of bacteria), but hanging out in sweat-soaked workout clothes can cause breakouts, pH imbalances, and vaginal irritation. It also just plain stinks. Do yourself—and others around you—a favor, and change into a fresh change of clothes, including socks and underwear.

image by kristen kilpatrick

5. Spritz and moisturize.

Heat and sweat can take a toll on your complexion, leaving it irritated and flushed. Using a soothing facial mist with ingredients like aloe, coconut, or rose water post-cleansing can reduce redness and help to soothe skin. The OY-L Hydrating facial mist takes my skin from red to hydrated and flowing with just a few spritzes. 

After skin is cleansed and soothed, moisturizing is a must. Look for a lightweight product that won’t clog pores or leave behind greasy residue. I’m currently really into The Water Cream by Tatcha and The Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream by Peter Thomas Roth. Both have a gel-cream texture that’s perfect for hot weather because it doesn’t leave a sheen or make my skin feel sweatier, but still keeps me hydrated for a good six hours, which is a feat. 

image by molly culver

6. Freshen up your locks.

Dry shampoo is not negotiable when it comes to your post-workout ‘do. It absorbs sweat and adds volume back to lifeless locks. Since there’s rarely time to shower and wash my hair between workouts, I swear by Living Proof Dry Shampoo — I love the fragrance, and it refreshes my hair in seconds. We also love the Drybar Detox Clear Dry Shampoo which literally whisks aways dirt, sweat, and oil without leaving any residue behind on your scalp. Baby powder works too—just be careful not to apply too much –a few strategic shakes on roots and underneath is all you need.

Finish off your fresh look by combing through your hair — if it’s looking flat, I like to barely tease my roots with a hairbrush to add a little bit of volume to the top. 

 

image by kristen kilpatrick

7. Reapply minimal face makeup.

Post-workout sesh, keep your makeup simple—no need to go for a full face. After prepping skin (with the previous steps), apply a creamy concealer to counteract any redness. Next, give your cheeks and lips a hint of color with a loose dusting powder or bronzer and some blush. Then, brush your brows up, add a coat or two of mascasa, and finish off with some tinted chapstick. Viola! You’ve perfectly achieved the fresh and natural ‘no makeup makeup’ look. 

image by outdoor voices

8. Hydrate.

After a tough workout, make sure to drink lots of water to replace everything you just sweated out. Getting enough H2O throughout the rest of the day will help to replenish any lost vitamins, electrolytes, and keep your skin from drying out.  Staying properly hydrated will also keep you alert and ready to tackle the rest of the day. If you start hitting your mid-afternoon slump, try drinking a full glass of water first before pouring yourself another cup of coffee. If you aren’t the biggest water drinker, try sipping on some coconut water instead. It’s hydrating, tasty, and full of potassium, which helps restore sore muscles.

I’ve found that the key to staying hydrated is as simple as having a great water bottle on hand at all times — check out our list of the prettiest water bottles to carry around all summer here.

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Kristen Kilpatrick