Olympic athletes seem to think so, and on-the-go formulas that claim to reduce redness, dehydration and clogged pores are seeing a surge in sales. We weigh up the ‘active’ skincare trend

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Bronze medal winning team GB Olympic athlete Laura Deas may only just be recovering from Sunday’s closing ceremony after party, but chances are that when she gets back on the workout wagon, she’ll be bookending training with a cosmetic warm-up and cool-down, at least if her Instagram  is anything to go by. Like Olympic rowing champion Helen Glover MBE , she’s declared herself a fan of the ‘active’ skincare brand Pretty Athletic , a suitably British-made range that features lightweight, easily absorbed 95 per cent natural and vegan skincare products that aim to target the skincare needs of regular exercisers. Just how do the skincare demands of gym goers differ to those that are less active?

According to Pretty Athletic,  clogged pores , redness , irritation and inflammation are just a few skin issues aggravated by exercise that constitute key customer concerns. We’ll throw acne  into the ‘active’ skincare problem pile, because if you’ve ever suffered with even mild breakouts, you’ll be aware that a sweat-session can very often make the spot situation worse, particularly if you don’t wash your face pre and post workout. According to a 2017 Google consumer survey, 51 per cent of us forgo cleansing after fitness alone, so there’s that. In the same survey, 78 per cent stated that they didn’t know what kind of products or skincare to use before or after exercise, although the good skin-tentions are there-  Cult Beauty  recently told Vogue that enquiries and demand for ‘gym-bag’ beauty, whether specific workout-friendly formulations or more portable products, have seen a noticeable increase of late.

Brands capitalising on our modern sporting commitments could be setting themselves up for success.

Global market research agency Mintel would corroborate this- new research indicates that gym friendly, on-the-go skincare is a hit in the US in particular, with three in ten women willing to pay more for multipurpose products, 69 per cent interested in waterless facial cleansers and 81 per cent keen to add exfoliating wipes to their speedy daily skincare regime. In a skincare market that’s highly saturated, Alison Gaither, Beauty and Personal Care Analyst at Mintel, reckons that brands capitalising on our modern sporting commitments could be setting themselves up for success:

“Brands that offer quick and easy-to-use formats that make the most out of beauty routines while travelling and going to the gym, such as waterless facial cleansers and portable sunscreen sticks, will do well with consumers as they seek out more convenient products.”

Basically, we’re speed freaks both in our spin classes and the showers, but we still want to look after our skin. Which is just as well, given that everything from sweating itself to using shared equipment and working out in confined spaces can increase the likelihood of bacteria transferring to our skin. Said bacteria then festers, becoming a veritable petri dish if we fail to wash our faces after working out. In an ideal world we should be cleansing pre-workout too, as adding the likes of longwear foundation  into the sweat-mix is bad news for clogged pores, blemishes and excess sebum, to name but a few issues of working out in makeup (not to mention, melty). Sometimes, however, a full  double cleanse  just ain’t feasible at the end of a long day, so instigating a post-exercise skincare ritual becomes all the more vital. But why would this differ from your usual routine?

The reasons could constitute a blend of the practical and the dermatological, however, both are pretty lifestyle, preference and skin type dependent. If you’re perfectly content hauling your usual lotions and potions to the changing room, and your skin’s happy, you could well file ‘active’ skincare under ‘gimmick’, but it does have some draws for the athletically inclined, for instance non-comedogenic  moisturisers that sink-in quickly to replace moisture lost as you sweat, portable SPFs that allow for high-factor protection on the run and redness neutralising post-workout primers to take down tomato face. None of which need be marketed specifically as ‘sports skincare’, of course, but providing such troubleshooters all under one brand or range, with both lightweight formulations and packaging, is certainly convenient for the consumer. Here are three fitness focused brands and ranges aiming to set the pace:

Pretty Athletic, from £15.50

As above, the Olympians’ changing room skincare lineup of choice, with a five-piece range designed to make high quality pre and post training cleansing and hydration a doddle. There’s no SPF, so this is indoor territory, but the likes of a hyaluronic acid  and niacinamide  infused cooling hydration mist  and aloe vera based cooling gel body moisturiser  allow for light layers of effective hydration that sandwich in moisture minus post-sweat after grease or the risk of body acne  (made worse by tight, non-breathable workout clothing and tardy showering habits, FYI). A purifying gel cleanser  is ideal for a gentle yet thorough cleanse, although you might want to go in with a liquid exfoliant  afterwards to ensure that any dead skin cells you’ve shed, or stubborn bacteria squatting in pores, have been fully seen to. Trial the ‘Cool Down’ Kit , £16.50, first if you’re not fully sold on sporty skincare.

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SportFX, skincare from £2.99

Primarily an ‘athleisure beauty’ brand, with a focus on affordable workout appropriate makeup such as lip balm and ‘stamina’ mascara, the SportFX skincare offering is tiny but targeted. A Cool Down Primer and Recovery Gel , £9.99, aims to refresh skin post-workout and provide an instantly ‘settled’ base for makeup thanks to an aloe vera heavy formula, although the menthol content could provoke slightly ironic irritation and redness- patch test before you break a sweat. The  Time Out Face Mist , £5.99, also has a cooling USP, although mind the menthol, while the  Face Off Makeup Remover Wipes , £2.99, aren’t to be substituted for a proper cleanse, but they’ve got your (sweaty) back in emergencies.

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CliniqueFIT™, from £13

Fragrance-free and “endurance tested”, this active beauty edit feels and looks more sportswear than skincare. Pre and post workout concerns are covered, with a transparent oil-free  Lip and Cheek Flush , £17, and Workout 24 Hour Mascara , £20, helping you cross the bridge of wanting to workout but also not fancying going totally face naked in the hall of mirrors that is the average workout studio. Clearly au naturel is usually best, but if you’re outdoors and need an SPF anyway, CliniqueFIT™’s option is Workout Makeup Broad Spectrum SPF 40 , £29.50, which has a matte finish and offers medium coverage, but is only available in a disappointing offering of four shades. No PB there. The Post-Workout lineup is more inclusive, with a gel textured Mattifying Moisturise r, £26, anti-inflammatory  Face + Body Hydrating Spray , £13, and redness concealing  Neutralising Face Powder , £27, that adapts to a wider range of skintones. There are even non-draggy cleansing  ‘swipes’ for face and body , £16, if you get stuck in a sticky situation.

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