Does Sweat Actually Clog Your Pores? A Derm Explains

“Contrary to popular belief, sweat itself does not lead to pimples,” board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D., notes over on his Instagram. As we alluded to above, your sweat consists mostly of water, so it’s not the main offender; in fact, board-certified dermatologist Ellen Marmur, M.D., even considers sweat the best natural cleanser for our skin, as she once told mbg about post-workout skin care.  

The problem arises when the sweat dries and mixes with oil and bacteria (from, say, touching a dirty yoga mat or exercise equipment). And because your pores are more open as your body heats up from exercise, that leaves room for the oil-sweat-bacteria mixture to sink in and lead to breakouts. On that note, makeup can also settle into your pores—which is why derms recommend you hit the pavement or mat makeup-free. 

In terms of body breakouts, your drenched clothing also creates a physical barrier on the skin, further trapping in all that oil and bacteria. “When we sweat, it wets our clothing, causes it to stick to our skin, mixes with oil, and blocks our pores,” says Zeichner. All the more reason to peel off your workout clothes as soon as you can post-sweat. 

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