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How to Freshen Up Post-Workout When You Can’t Shower

You just finished a rigorous sweat session and showering isn't an option. We got fitness instructors and avid gym-goers to share their best tips, tricks, and product picks that will leave you looking, feeling, and smelling fresh. Now, there's no excuse to skip a workout.

Use a fabric hair tie

Pre-workout, pull your hair up into a high bun, pony, or braid—using a stretchy elastic. This will keep hair off your neck, helping you stay cool and preventing strands from getting super sweaty or greasy. Emily Burkhardt, instructor at Flywheel, praises creaseless hair ties. “They’re the reason I’m able to let my locks down after a great workout—without getting that dreaded dent in my hair.”


Cleanse your face

Post-class cleansing is a must to wash away sweat, stink, and blemish-causing bacteria. When you can’t shower, wipes are the next best thing. Katia Pryce, founder and creator of DanceBody, has her post-workout routine down to a science. “Living the life of a trainer, I don’t always have time to shower after class. When that happens, I use Clean & Clear Makeup Dissolving Facial Cleansing Wipes,” she says. If you have acne-prone skin, dermatologists recommend wipes with bacteria-busting salicylic acid.

Wipe down your body

A shower in a sheet? Yes, please! Gym goers love the convenience of full-body wipes, such as Yuni Shower Sheets, individually wrapped, super-soft moist wipes that are organic and alcohol-free (also biodegradable), and Herban Essentials Lemon Wipes, infused with uplifting lemon essential oil. Toss them in your gym bag to refresh after a workout. You can even use them to wipe down your phone or tablet to prevent the spread of germs.


Apply deodorant

Say bye-bye to BO. Deodorant is a post-workout essential—especially when you don’t have the time or access to a shower. Because no matter how fresh you look, if you smell like the inside of a locker room (or worse), there’s no fooling anyone. Look for a formula with baking soda, which combats odor and absorbs wetness. “I always keep Schmidt’s Rose + Vanilla Stick in my bag for a quick refresher after class,” says Kim Villanueva, co-founder of Core Pilates NYC. Need a super-portable, single-use option? Try an EO Certified Organic Deodorant Wipe, made with naturally antiseptic lavender (and zero aluminum, parabens, or phthalates, in case you’re concerned). You could stash it in a back pocket anytime you think the old pits might need a refresher.


Change into clean clothes

Walking around in sweaty clothes post-workout is a major no-no. Not only are gyms breeding grounds for bacteria (and we’re not talking the good kind of bacteria), but hanging out in sweat-soaked fabrics can cause breakouts, pH imbalances, and vaginal irritation. It also just plain stinks. Do yourself—and others around you—a favor, and pack a fresh change of clothes, including socks and underwear.

Refresh with face mist

Exercise (aka heat and sweat) can take a toll on your complexion, leaving it irritated and flushed. Natural beauties and fitness buffs agree that facial mists can reduce redness and soothe skin. Try Jurlique Rosewater Balancing Mist, with rose essential oil, marshmallow, and aloe to help to hydrate and soften skin, and grapefruit seed extract to add antioxidant protection, or Herbivore Rose Hibiscus Hydrating Face Mist, made with coconut water and infused with hibiscus petals and Bulgarian roses.

Maria Akerberg

Moisturize skin

After skin is cleansed and soothed, moisturizing is a must. Look for a lightweight product that won’t clog pores or leave behind greasy residue. “I’m currently really into Maria Akerberg Face Lotion Clearing,” says Eliza Shirazi, founder of Kick It By Eliza. “It’s worked wonders for my sensitive skin, keeps my acne in check, and also smells amazing.” Dermatologists love Glytone Hydrating Lotion that balances acne-prone skin.

Revive strands

Dry shampoo is not negotiable when it comes to your post-workout ‘do. It absorbs sweat and adds volume back to lifeless locks. “As a fitness instructor, there’s rarely time to shower and wash my hair between workouts. So in a pinch, I use Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo,” says Chrysetta Stevens, instructor at Flex Studios. “I love the fragrance, and it refreshes my hair in seconds.” We also love Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo, which literally whisks aways dirt, sweat, and oil without leaving any residue. Baby powder works too—just be careful not to apply too much. A few strategic shakes on roots and underneath is all you need. (Related: Here are the absolute worst things you can do for your hair.)


Swish some mouthwash

Oral hygiene (aka brushing, flossing, and swishing) is part of your AM and PM routine, so why would you skip it post-workout? While you don’t need to go through all the steps, mouthwash is quick and easy way to kill bad breath germs and freshen breath. If swishing takes too long, try a spritz with the purse-friendly Listerine PocketMist. Don’t miss the things your bad breath reveals about your health.

Go minimal with makeup

Post-class, keep makeup simple—no need to go for a full face. After prepping skin (with the previous steps), apply a creamy concealer to counteract any redness. Next, give your cheeks and lips a hint of color with a dual purpose product, such as the Multibalm by Pixi. Add a coat or two of mascara, and finish with a quick dusting of SPF face powder, such as ColoreScience Sunforgettable Broad Spectrum SPF 50. Don’t miss these “no-makeup” makeup tricks to look naturally gorgeous.

Spritz on a fresh scent

The right fragrance can mask a whole host of olefactory evils. “The Laundress Sports Spray is one of my all-time fave post-workout products,” says says Marisa Berardo, instructor at SLT. “It makes me feel put together and oh-so-athleisurely, even with a beet-red face.” Bonus that it’s non-toxic and has antibacterial properties, so it adds scent while removing odor. Check out these tricks to make your perfume last longer.


Experts agree that good old water is the best beverage around. But after a particularly grueling workout, you might need a little something more. “After a tough class, I make sure to drink lots of water to replace everything I just sweat out. I also love coconut water. It’s hydrating, tasty, and full of potassium for my sore muscles,” says Melody Scharff, instructor at Fhitting Room. Another up and coming recovery beverage that’s half the calories of coconut water is maple water. Try DrinkMaple, made from the water of Vermont maple trees—with natural vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and electrolytes.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest