Sweating: it’s occasionally icky, sometimes embarrassing, and… great for your skin? That’s right, there are a ton of positive effects of sweating on skin. If you’ve been wondering, “Is sweating good for your skin?”, read on to find out why it is indeed.
How Does Sweating Work?
Sweating, also called perspiration, is a normal part of being human. Sweating is the main way we regulate body temperature. Our bodies are covered by millions of sweat glands.
We have two types of sweat glands: eccrine and apocrine. These types vary in location, the type of sweat they produce, and the triggers that they respond to.
- Eccrine Glands: These glands are located all over the human body and produce sweat that is odorless and mostly made of water. Sweat caused by exercise and body temperature regulation comes from these glands.
- Apocrine Glands: These glands are located in hair follicles on your scalp, groin, and armpits. They release odorous sweat that’s a mixture of fat and water. “Emotional sweating” comes from these glands.1
What’s In Sweat?
Sweat is mostly water. It also contains:
- Trace amounts of sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. These are electrolytes that trigger responses in your body.
- Small amounts of pheromones.
- Bacteria. Usually, sweat picks up bacteria from your skin after it has been secreted. This is what makes some sweat smell.
- Small amounts of toxins, like heavy metals and BPA.2
Why Do Humans Sweat?
A variety of triggers may make sweating more likely.
- High Temperature. It’s hot outside, or you’ve deliberately placed yourself in an infrared sauna or some other high temperature environment.
- This is the most common cause of increased sweating.
- Things You Consume. Eating spicy foods and drinking caffeinated or alcoholic beverages can make you sweat. This is called gustatory sweating.
- Emotions. Stress, fear, anxiety, embarrassment, and anger can all make you sweat more.
- Medications. Certain medications can make you sweat.
- Certain Illnesses. Some medical conditions can increase the amount you sweat in a day.
- Menopause. The hormonal fluctuations and hot flashes that women experience with menopause can cause increased sweating.3
Is Sweating A Good Thing?
As much as you may dislike beads of sweat on your face, sweat is actually good for you. Sweat may have benefits related to weight loss, heart health, muscle recovery, immunity, and a boosted mood.4 Plus, psst, it’s great for your skin health, too. Read on for the effects of sweating on skin.
Effects Of Sweat On The Skin
Sweat Is A Natural Moisturizer
Do you suffer from dry skin? Consider sweating it out. One of the biggest effects of sweating on skin is that it contains moisturizing properties. Sweat can increase surface hydration by helping the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of skin) hold on to water.
Sweat also contains small amounts of urea, a substance used in some beauty products to help smooth and moisturize the skin.5,6
Sweat Naturally Protects The Skin
If sweat makes you feel “dirty,” keep this in mind: sweat actually contains a compound that fights bacteria on your skin. Sweat contains an antimicrobial peptide called dermcidin. When you sweat, your glands secrete dermcidin, which attacks bacteria that is present on your skin. This acts as a natural antibiotic, helping to protect against infection and germs.7,8
Sweat May Indicate A Tough Workout, Which Is Good For The Skin
When you sweat from exercise, you reap many potential benefits. Most of us know that exercise is great for our overall health and well-being. But did you know that regular exercise also has incredible benefits for your skin? It’s true.
Exercise can instantly benefit skin by increasing blood and lymph flow. Under the surface, exercise also helps your mitochondria make a chemical called ATP, which is essential for collagen and hyaluronic acid production. Your body’s ATP production naturally declines as you age, so giving it a boost with exercise is a real boon for staying youthful-looking.9
Sweat Clears Toxins From The Body
While the science behind this is unclear, the old myth that you can “sweat out toxins” does hold some truth. While your kidney and liver do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to ridding your body of toxins, sweat also carries some out.
Trace amounts of heavy metals and BPA have been found in sweat samples. Scientists are still unclear as to what extent this benefits skin, but it certainly can’t hurt.10,11
Sweat Supports A Balanced Skin Microbiome
Similar to your gut, healthy skin hosts its own microbiome. Some estimates say that there are 1,000 bacterial species and up to 80 fungi species currently living on your skin. And that’s a good thing. Your skin microbiome boosts your immune system and offers protection from infection and environmental threats.
Breaking a sweat helps feed your skin’s microbiome. This helps the microbiota stay strong so they can do their job and keep you healthy.12
Sweat Gives You A Radiant Glow (And Not For The Reason You Think)
Have you ever experienced a particularly sweaty moment and caught a glimpse of yourself in the mirror? You were likely glowing, darling! And no, your radiance isn’t only due to the fact your face is wet from sweat.
When you sweat, your blood circulation gets an extra boost. Healthy blood flow delivers oxygen and nutrients to skin cells and throughout the body. This extra circulation gives you a beautiful, healthy glow from the inside out.13
Is sweating good for your skin? Absolutely. So, with all of the potential benefits you can get from sweating, why not just embrace the sweat and let it sit on your face all day long? Experts are quick to point out one caveat with sweating benefits.
If Left On The Skin, Sweat Can Cause Skin Irritation
After you break a sweat, it’s advised that you rinse off relatively soon. The ammonia and urea content of sweat can irritate the skin if left on for a long period of time. The sodium content of sweat can dehydrate skin, too.14 If left on too long, sweat can cause:
- Heat retention
- Skin dryness
- Damage to the skin barrier (in extreme cases)15
If you’re extra sweaty and far from a shower, don’t worry. A quick wipe down with body wipes or a simple rinse with water will work to wash off the sweat.
Go On, Get Sweaty (And Then Take A Shower)
Sweating does indeed have a ton of potential benefits for your skin. On top of that, most of the things associated with sweating, like intense exercise, saunas, and spending time outside, are also great for your health. So, next time you’re feeling the heat (and feeling a little uncomfortable about that), remember to embrace the health benefits of sweating and let your radiance shine. Just don’t forget to take a shower later that evening.
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