You’ve got the sneakers, the leggings, and your favorite sports bra — all of which fit like a glove and make you feel fabulous. In other words, you’re ready to work out, right? We wish getting ready for the gym was that simple. But, keeping a pre-packed gym bag within reach is one of the best ways to resist making excuses for getting that workout in. Planning ahead and making things easier on yourself is such a great motivator — so we’re here to help you stock your gym bag so you can make the most out of your workout… without compromising your complexion.
An XL water bottle
If you’re going to be working up a healthy sweat, you’ll want to replenish any moisture you’ve lost — and then some. Staying hydrated is just as important as anything else you’ll do on the gym floor, so make sure you’re getting the necessary amount of water by keeping a big ol’ bottle on hand. Aim to drink about eight ounces for every 20 minutes of exercise. Fill up for free at the fountain, as needed.
The last thing anyone wants to worry about during a workout is whether or not they’re smelling fresh, so if odor is ever an issue be sure to keep a stick of deodorant in your bag and apply before (and after) hitting the gym. Unless you have a serious sweating issue, it’s best to opt for deodorants over antiperspirants, which clog pores to prevent sweat from reaching the skin.
A face towel or two
A towel for drying your hair and body is a no-brainer if you’re going to hit the showers before leaving the gym, but stocking a separate one just for your face can go a long way in maintaining a clear complexion. Whether you need one or two — to wipe down while you’re working up a sweat and/or another to dry off after washing your face — separate towels will be sure to prevent any bacteria, skin cells or other residue from making their way from your body to your face, which can result in breakouts.
A gentle, exfoliating face wash
And speaking of washing your face… one of the biggest mistakes any athlete with acne-prone skin can make is sitting in their sweat after a heavy workout. Why? Because the debris left on your skin post-sweat session can combine with your body’s natural oils (called sebum) and clogs pores. Add our BFF P. Acnes bacteria (aka the bacteria that causes acne) into the mix and it can lead to some not-so-pretty pimples.
Even if you don’t have time for a full shower, you should always do your best to keep your face, neck, and chest fresh and free of breakouts with a quick wash. Be sure to use a gentle cleanser designed to treat acne — such as the SLMD Salicylic Acid Cleanser with exfoliating salicylic acid — then rinse with lukewarm water and pat dry.
A “Just in Case” bag
It’s never a bad idea to come prepared, and an all-purpose bag filled with the essentials will help you handle anything that comes your way. Ideas for stocking that bag include: lip balm, extra hair ties, band-aids, tampons, pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medicine, a disposable razor, dental floss and some mouthwash or gum. Your bag is meant to make your life easier — so add your must-haves to it, then keep it within easy reach whether you’re working out or just on the go.
Face and body wipes
What can you do for your skin if you don’t have time to shower? In order to keep your skin clean, clear and healthy, you’ll want to at least take care to wipe away any sweat or residue you’ve built up while working out to prevent pores from clogging — especially if you have acne-prone skin. Plus, you’ll want to wipe away any dirt or grime from the gym equipment you’ve touched.
An unscented formula is always a safe bet, but if you’re looking for a little bit of a sweet-smelling treat, grapefruit, green tea, and cucumber formulas can make for a great way to feel fresh in a pinch without over drying your complexion.
A treatment body spray
If you’re prone to breakouts post-workout, the best way to make do in a pinch is by wiping yourself down with those aforementioned wipes, then follow up with a few spritzes of a body spray formulated to treat acne. SLMD’s Salicylic Acid Body Spray is a 2% salicylic acid formula that comes with a 360° spray nozzle that allows for easy use upside down and on the go — perfect for treating hard to reach areas like the back, which can be a common spot for body breakouts.
A medicated body wash
Sweaty sports bras, leggings and shirts can make for a bacteria breeding ground, which means bad news for anyone with body acne. Whenever you find the time to shower after you exercise, you’ll do your skin a service by using a medicated wash to banish bacteria. Whenever possible, strip off those sweaty clothes, hop in the shower, and treat your skin, especially the acne-prone parts like the chest, butt and back, to a healthy suds. Our favorite is the SLMD Salicylic Acid Body Wash — gentle, hydrating and exfoliating.
A change of clothes
Even if you’re not hitting the showers, one of the most unsuspecting ways people become susceptible to body acne is by staying in sweat-soaked clothing — especially tight workout clothes that press against your skin. Even if you’re just doing a quick wipe down and face wash, changing into fresh clothes will ensure you stay breakout free.
A gym bag basic, but trust us when we say, nothing is worse than having your wallet & phone stolen from an unattended gym locker. A sturdy lock (we opt for combo ones to avoid having to carry around a key) will help secure your stuff so you can be sure to enjoy a stress-free workout.
Whether you’re looking to maintain focus or just not looking to entertain that creeper who keeps trying to start a conversation while you’re on the treadmill, headphones are another gym necessity. Whether you’re bumping old school hip hop in big, wireless, over-the-ear headphones or just listening to your favorite podcast in your earbuds, headphones are every gym aficionado’s BFF.
Your favorite, protein-rich snack
When you work your muscles out you’re actually breaking them down, which is why it’s important to introduce a source of protein after a rigorous class or weight training session to build them back up. Anything from pre-packaged bars to nuts, jerky, trail mix, anything containing peanut butter, or a delicious smoothie are great post-workout fuel. If you’re looking to build and gain, don’t forget to add a carb to help the body absorb the protein you’re eating.
Because no two workouts are the same, no two workout bags will be either, so keep in mind what you need to succeed at the gym and pack a bag that works for you. Just don’t forget about your complexion!