You just finished your workout and it's time to hit the locker room. If you work out before the office or at lunchtime, your post-workout regime is key for returning to work looking presentable.
Luckily with the right products and routine, it is possible to transition from bench press to boardroom and look good while doing it.
Below is our head-to-toe guide on grooming at the gym from what to bring, to how to use your limited time most efficiently.
What to Bring To The Gym
The savvy gym-goer comes equipped with the best workout wear and his own grooming gear.
Gym Bag Essentials
- Shower sandals
- A towel
- Change of clothes
- Travel fog-free mirror
Dopp Kit Essentials
- Shaving Cream
- Styling Products
- Face/ Beard Wash
- Body Wash
- Moisturizer - One with an SPF is a bonus!
Step 1 - Cool Down
Once you have gotten your heart rate up, it's best to cool down for about 10-15 minutes before hopping into the shower. Use this time to transition into a gentler post-workout exercise and stretching routine as well as hydrate your body to replenish what you lost during the workout.
Cooling down helps your heart rate to normalize and regulates your body temperature.
Step 2 - Jump In The Shower
Picking a cold temperature for your shower can ease muscle tension and inflammation, bring down your internal temperature, and re-energize tired muscles. Similar to an ice bath, the cold promotes repair in the muscles and inhibits the lactic acid build-up to prevent soreness and reduces the risk of muscle pain.
For best results, start with a lukewarm shower gradually making the water colder throughout the shower. The last 90 seconds should be the coldest you can tolerate. Don’t forget to grab your shower sandals before hopping into the shower.
First: Wash Your Face
A post-workout cleanse is a necessity and should be done as soon as possible. Sweating is a way to detox but when mixed with dead skin cells, product residue, and sebum, a pore-clogging recipe is formed. Sweat also creates a perfectly warm and moist environment for bacteria that causes acne. Don’t wait for the sweat to dry before washing with a mild face or beard wash.
Make sure your hands are clean before touching your face. Choose a face wash that rehydrates and nourishes the skin to fight dry skin and aging caused by dehydration and physical exertion.
Then: Rinse or Shampoo Your Hair
Much like your muscles, your hair is in a fragile state post-workout. A proper post-workout hair routine prevents problems like dandruff, scalp itch, and even hair loss. Choose a quality moisturizing and cleansing shampoo that can plow through the grease build-up from the workout.
Leaving sweat on your scalp and hair too long can:
- Stretch out hair leaving them weak and easily damaged
- Harm follicles and block pores, slowing new growth and triggering hair loss
- Workout sweat can mix with your scalp's natural bacteria leading to itchiness, and dandruff
Some men only need to wash their hair 2-3 times a week. Shampooing after every workout may strip away beneficial natural oils and lead to less voluminous locks. If you only sweat a little, try washing every second or third day - enough to remove product build-up without dehydrating effects. Find a balance that is right for your hair and skin type.
Last: Quick Body Cleanse
Use your favorite body wash to leave your skin smelling great, clean, fresh, and moist. And, as we mentioned earlier, finishing your shower with a blast of cold water can close pores, and bring your heart rate and body temperature back down stopping any residual sweating.
Short on Time?
If you don’t have time for a full rinse off, wash your hands thoroughly and use body wipes or a wet washcloth to clean up sweat-prone areas like armpits. Change out of your sweaty workout clothes and make sure that you do get a full shower within 24 hours (or sooner) of your workout. A delayed shower is preferred over no shower at all.
Towel dry your hair to quickly remove sweat and oil. This will allow for styling products to still penetrate your hair and do their job instead of just laying on top of the grime. On the days you opt-out of the shampoo or a rinse, you can apply dry shampoo before and after your workout to absorb excess oil.
Step 3 - Post Shower Grooming
Benefits of Shaving At The Gym
Some guys make the mistake of grabbing cheap razors and shave products for their gym bag and it shows. These types of products can do some serious damage to your face from nicks and cuts to dry skin. If you shave at the gym, choosing quality products and blocking out time to shave properly will give you the best results.
Tips for A Post Work Out Shave
- A post-shower shave is preferable as your pores will be open and hairs will be considerably softer from all the steam and heat.
- Prepare your skin with a mild face or beard wash in the shower to remove any sweat or residue from your workout.
- Grab your shaving cream, apply a thin layer to your skin, and lather.
- Make sure you have a sharp razor to prevent irritation and razor burn.
When you work out, you lose water via evaporation through your skin. This makes you more prone to dry skin, wrinkles, and other signs of aging. Just as you need to rehydrate your body with drinking water, you need to renourish your skin with quality moisturizers.
Look for products that have natural ingredients like aloe vera and green tea extract to replenish while still feeling light on your skin. If you are outside often, use a face moisturizer for men with SPF to keep your skin smooth and protected all day long.
Style Hair and Beard
If you have super short hair, you can just towel off and go. For guys with a little more length, you’ll want to polish off your post-gym regime with a little styling cream or sculpting clay. Flexible hold products are perfect for keeping your hair in place without that crunchy look. A little styling can do a lot to make you look put together and presentable for the day.
Post-Workout Beard Care
After towel drying your beard, you will want to grab your beard comb to detangle and direct hairs to lay the way you want. Next, grab your beard oil to rehydrate and soften your beard and facial skin. Applying beard oil after a shower while follicles are open locks in water absorbed by your beard hairs and allows for even distribution of the product. Lastly, style your beard with a little beard balm to keep those hairs where you want them. Here’s a link about what the difference is between beard oil and beard balm? Don't forget to pack your beard brush for later in the day to exfoliate and keep your beard looking tidy.
Growing a beard takes patience and determination. You might encounter roughness, itchiness, or even bald sections throughout your beard journey. The good news is working out increases testosterone levels and DHT which triggers facial hair growth and can eliminate beard patchiness. Even more of a reason to pick up those dumbbells. And, if you need a little help check out this blog post on how to grow a beard.
Pit Stop - Leave Smelling Fresh
Don’t forget to reapply your deodorant. A shower is great, but some of us need a little extra help keeping away body odor throughout the day.
Before you head out the locker room door finish with a spritz of cologne that leaves you smelling fresh.
In Summary - Here are the Do’s and Don’ts
You don’t want to waste time on your post-workout grooming. Keep it quick and easy - below is our list of gym grooming do’s and don’ts.
- Bring 3-5 ML bottles of your favorite products; no need to bring your entire bathroom to the gym.
- Enjoy the time you carved out for yourself to workout, shower, and shave.
- Invest in travel products specifically for your gym Dopp kit so you aren’t constantly packing and unpacking toiletries.
- Cool off before you jump into the shower; drinking cold water can lower your body temperature.
- Use the generic products at the gym. Most gyms stock cheaper products with poor ingredients that can damage your face and dry out your skin.
- Treat the gym like a spa! Take your time but make sure you are using it efficiently to allow others time to utilize the shower and sink.
- Skip the spin cycle for your workout clothes and towels. Reusing items without properly washing them means that the same grime and dirt from your last workout are reintroduced to your skin, leaving it vulnerable to inflamed follicles or acne.