Lisa Hannam
Lisa Hannam

Why Do I Get Red Face After I Work Out?

I don’t sweat when I work out. I might get a bit of a glow, but nothing that requires a shower or change of clothes. And it’s not because I’m not training hard. Instead of sweat stains, greasy hair or smelly odour, you can see my workout in my face. My face gets red AF. Whenever I’ve shared a #postworkoutselfie of my fiery red face, I’ve gotten comments from followers telling me that I’m not alone. “Me too!” “Same. I’m fair too.”

Makeup can cover up tomato face for some. For me? I can’t even. There’s no concealer or foundation that can tame my angry skin. I look like a distant relative of Jim Carrey’s green-faced character in The Mask, and nothing will cover it up. My body, however, remains its regular pale self, and even my neck looks normal. But my face? From my hairline down to my jawline is a burnt red colour.

Red Face
I always thought, because I don’t really sweat, that this was my workout badge of honour, to show how hard I had my heart pumping. But here’s the weird part. If the room temperature is high, then I sweat. A lot. (In fact, I found one spin studio that’s so warm, it was the sweatiest workout I’ve ever done.) But in well-ventilated gyms with AC, I don’t perspire.

What’s the deal? According to Jason Rivers, clinical professor at the department of Dermatology and Skin Science at the University of British Columbia and medical director at Pacific DermAesthetics, I might actually have rosacea. In fact, these are the questions he fires at me when I tell him my concerns.

“Are you not in good health?”
“Do you take any medications?”
“Does anyone in your family have this issue?”
“Do you get red in the face if you drink wine or hot drinks or eat spicy foods?”

Despite saying no or IDK to these questions, Dr. Rivers continues: “Rosacea will make you red in the face with exercise. That’s more common in Celtic backgrounds and those with fair skin.” So I might just have a mild case of rosacea, he tells me. As for the (not) sweating, not everyone naturally sweats a lot. He tells me: “You’re normal. (Tell bae that.) You just have a higher set point.” (However, a big however, check with your doctor to make sure you don’t have other serious issues.)

So if I’m not profusely sweating after a workout, should I rehydrate with electrolytes? Not really, says registered dietitian nutritionist Gail C. Rampersaud, associate in nutrition research and education at the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department and Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida. I only need to rehydrate with electrolytes (like those found in sports drinks) if I’m “doing prolonged and very intense exercise, or working out in extreme heat or humid conditions.” Unless of course, my gym doesn’t have AC, she adds. So, I should have water before, during and after my workouts (even in cool gyms, but especially if I’m working out outside). Water is best during a workout, but she suggests I hydrate with fruits and veggies as well as 100-per cent fruit juices, like orange or grapefruit, for “vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, potassium, folate and thiamin.”

For me and my lack of sweatiness, Dr. Rivers says that hydration might not be my issue, but overheating could be. He recommends that I work out in “cool environments” (not a spot that’s often Instagrammed, but has AC) and use cold towels after.