Growing up, I was "blessed" with good skin and had no major issues, even throughout my teenage hormonal years as I watched many of my classmates struggle with acne, psoriasis and eczema.
That all changed in college, when I started going to yoga classes at the student gym in an effort to decompress from the stresses of assignments and exams. Soon after, large red painful pimples started appearing on my left cheek and I just assumed they had reared their ugly head to say hello as I tried to get through my final year of college.
I went to see my dermatologist soon after graduation and was told I had a condition called rosacea and was put on a course of antibiotics. A few months later, my skin went back to normal and I stopped having to spend a fortune on concealer.
Yoga and My Skin Issues
Flash forward a few years – as my practice grew more consistent, the more I struggled with skin issues. I generally don't sweat like crazy, except for in one area of my body: my head and face.
Oftentimes, I will look like I dunked my head, and only my head, in a pool after a challenging yoga class.
The more pimples and painful cysts that I got, the more I would complain and become self-conscious, and my friends would ask, "shouldn't your skin get better if you do more yoga?" I thought so as well, after all yoga helps to improve blood circulation, calms the nervous system and "detoxifies" the body – right?
Then why was my skin getting worse? You might find that yoga is actually helping to improve your skin issues and acne, in which case I take my hat off to you, you lucky yogi!
During my month-long yoga teacher training, my skin was at its absolute worst and a bad case of folliculitis was triggered on my forehead, where I was sweating from the most.
Six months on, I am still struggling through getting my skin back to a healthy and happy state; along the way, I found some skin care practices that have helped my skin to heal and reduce inflammation and irritation.
Must-Do Skin Care Practices
Whether yoga is helping to clear up your skin or make it more agitated, there are some good skin care practices that all yogis should stick to.
1. Wash your face immediately after your practice.
Don't let the sweat and grime sit on your skin and settle into your pores because this is how your pores get irritated and bacteria has the opportunity to build up.
After a yoga class, head straight to the bathroom and wash or rinse your face, even if you're heading home afterwards. Once you're home, hop in the shower immediately and wash your face thoroughly with a gentle cleanser that doesn't strip your skin of its natural oils.
2. BYOT – bring your own towel.
You don't always know how a studio cleans their towels after someone sweats all over it, so bring your own to be on the safe side.
3. Drink lots of water.
This shouldn't be a surprise – hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
4. Once a week, do a deep cleanse.
This is going to look different for everyone depending on your skin type – for me, this means using a microdermabrasion exfoliant wash that contains salicylic acid to get all the gunk out of my pores.
5. No picking!
As much as possible, keep your paws off your face (except for in garbha pindasana, of course!). It will only make any existing skin irritations worse, or be the source of new and unwelcome breakouts.
6. Avoid wearing makeup to class.
Makeup (especially old makeup that you haven't replaced in a while) can be a breeding ground for bacteria. As your pores open and release sweat and sebum, it gives what's on your face an opportunity to sink in.
Yes, some products are (or at least claim to be) non-comedogenic, but I've found it easier to just go barefaced whenever possible.
What are some other ways you swear by to keep your skin happy and healthy?