Cheat Sheet – When to do your routine when you’re exercising

I am frequently asked by readers that exercise in all manner of ways for the best time to add their skincare routines. As there are SO many variations, I thought I’d keep this one ‘live’ if you will, and add to it as you leave more requests in the comments, so please do feel free to add your questions/exercise/time of day that you do the exercise/activity and I’ll respond and add them to this post on a continuous basis..

So to start with the ‘skeleton’ or bare bones….


Early morning run:

Cold climate (English winter for example) – apply a little facial oil to protect your face before you pound the streets, go run, come home, do routine.

Hot climate – apply SPF before you hit the streets, go run, come home, do routine.

After work run:

Remove makeup, apply a thin layer of moisturiser (and/or SPF if outside and the sun is out), run, sweat, shower, do your evening routine.

Gym Sessions/Weights/Cardio

Early morning classes – get up, if you have dry skin apply a little moisturiser, go to the gym, sweat it out, then do your proper routine after your shower.
Lunchtime classes – go to the gym, remove your makeup, apply a minimal moisturiser (thin layer), do your class/workout, sweat like a racehorse, shower, do your routine.
After work classes – go to the gym, cleanse and apply a light moisturiser (thin layer), do your workout, sweat, shower, do your full bedtime routine – unless you’re going out for dinner etc in which case do your skin routine, apply your makeup and remove it all before bed as per usual..


It’s not great to swim in makeup, no matter how rushed you are, equally, you don’t want a ton of product running into your eyes and blinding you while you do your laps.

Early morning swim – get up, apply a thin layer of moisturiser (I avoid my forehead to avoid drip down effect into the eyes but do what you feel your skin needs), swim, shower, routine.

After work swim – remove makeup, thin layer of something protective – I prefer a little facial oil but light moisturiser works, swim, shower, do actual routine.


Any time of day, you want protection on a face that is being wind-bashed. Whether am or pm, cycle with no makeup, make sure you have applied protective moisturiser and/or SPF and do your routine after your post-cycle shower. I would consider applying facial oil to the cheeks if you won’t end up covered in bug roadkill ­čÖé

Yoga (more specifically – Bikram)

Being frank, Bikram is not good for your face. Argue all you want, but the entire purpose of it is to make you sweat  – however, unlike other sports you can’t cool down because you’re in a room where the temperature is maintained at ‘scorching’. That healthy ‘glow’ will eventually be broken capillaries. Having said that, I know some of you are completely addicted to it so your main concern is to keep the nose/cheek area under control. Spritz as soon as you can with a floral water – not normal water – shower, and apply a hydrating serum AND moisturiser. You will be dehydrated afterwards, so if you regularly attend Bikram classes I would keep spritzing bottles handy and keep an eye on your face for signs of dehydration like fine lines and cakey makeup…

In short, if in doubt:

  • Remove your makeup before you exercise. Yes you can use micellar waters if you have to but you would be much better served using a good oil cleanser – it’s more gentle and nourishing and kinder all round – especially if you exercise every day/4 or 5 times a week.
  • Try and exercise with a light moisturiser on your face
  • If you are going to use saunas and steam rooms try and have some facial oils on your face – heat and oils are lovely – not mineral oil though – plant oils. (A paraffin wax mask is lovely – but that’s because it is done by a pro with a good plant oil underneath….however that’s for another post)
  • Protect the cheeks – those are the areas most prone to visible signs of damage from sport – oils and moisturisers and SPF where appropriate. Keep them protected.