Is Hot Yoga Messing Up My Skin?

By Minji

  • Hot Yoga is an amazing work out but could cause skin issues
  • Remove makeup/sunscreen before and use a frozen water bottle to cool off skin during
  • After class, either shower or wipe your face, moisturize and sunscreen

I accidentally stumbled into hot yoga.  I was in San Francisco for a weekend and really craving some yoga.  A quick google maps searched pointed me towards one walkable yoga class that worked with my schedule and I was in.  I thought yoga was yoga…until this class hit me hard. 

First of all, it was hot yoga, which I had never tried before.  Second, it was a yoga with weights class.  I’d never tried this either and have very little muscle strength.  On top of that, the music was insane and the instructor was yelling.  High energy EDM music at full volume, the instructor was demanding burpees, high-knees and push-ups nonstop. 

I was fuming – literally from the heat and sweat in the room and also internally.  I wanted to yell, “this isn’t yoga – how dare you call this crazy thing yoga and not warn people!”  It was so damn hot, sweaty, and gross…the humidity, the heat, the sweat, the body odor, ugh.  It took every last bit of my will power to stay through the class.  I was beyond angry … until I walked out of the class and felt like a million bucks.  As soon as I stepped out of class into fresh air, I felt stronger, healthier and refreshed.  It felt like I had burned a gazillion calories, the slight hangover I was nursing from the night before was gone, and I felt brand new.  That feeling hooked me and I have been going to hot yoga sculpt ever since, for years now at this point. 

Like all relationships that seem too perfect to be true though, I’ve always had a secret worry about hot yoga that I’ve tried to suppress.  Is hot yoga possibly bad for my skin? I’ve heard rumors that too much sauna can enlarge your pores.  I was also worried about the sunscreen on my face, before and after class.  Was it melting during the workout and clogging my pores, and then was my naked face frying in the sun during my drive home?  I finally found the inner strength to confront my demons and investigate.  I’ve got some good news…but there’s some bad news too.

Good news first (always!) – with the steam and heat, combined with glorious exercise moves, hot yoga can be detoxifying, help increase blood flow and boost circulation, all good things for the body and skin.  Ready for the bad news? Unfortunately, some studies have shown that people exposed to excessive heat (yes, heat and not just the sun) on a daily basis, experience higher rates of hyperpigmentation.  Also, with the heat and sweat, breakouts could be caused by oil and dirt settling into your pores and causing an inflammatory response. Yikes.  Did I love hot yoga enough to live with these risks?

The answer was a yes, but I’ve made some adjustments to my hot yoga routine that alleviates these risks.  First, everything in moderation. Take hot classes at most 3-4 times a week.  We’re always hearing that shaking up our exercise routine is good anyways, so double incentive to do this.  Second, implement the following before and after measures:

1. Make sure you remove all makeup and sunscreen before class to prevent risk of breakouts or clogged pores (organic facial wipes are great for this step, make sure you moisturize right after). 

2. Bring a frozen water bottle to class for two purposes – to drink and keep hydrated but also to use as an ice pack on pores – cooling off skin regularly can help with excessive heat buildup.

3. After class, either shower immediately or if you shower at home, wipe your face again with organic facial wipes, apply moisturizer and sunscreen for the drive home. 

I know this sounds like a hassle, but once you get used to it, it’s just an extra minute or two to keep you healthy and glowing.  Totally worth it if your intention is to namaste in hot yoga like me.