Squeezing in a lunchtime workout isn't as challenging as it once was. After all, because you no longer have to rush back to the office after your workouts, you can sweat knowing that there's an empty shower waiting for you just feet away. (It's the little things!)
But when your workout is sandwiched between Zoom meetings, fitting in time to shower (and get "ready") can take a backseat. The result: A hero-sized picture of you on your colleagues' computers looking red-faced and less than camera-ready.
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To help you freshen up after a workout, we tapped the experts. Here's their best advice on how to exercise during your lunch break and still look your absolute best for post-workout meetings.
1. Stay Hydrated
During your workout, your blood flow increases to carry more oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. But just like a car engine, your body releases heat to break down fuel, says Michele Olson, PhD, CSCS, a senior clinical professor of sports science at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama. This causes your pores to dilate and release sweat so you don't overheat.
To help you cool down quicker after a lunchtime workout, Olson says to sip cold water and wipe sweat off your neck and face with a cool, damp towel.
"The cold causes your capillaries [blood vessels] to shrink back down. When they're dilated, they're filled with oxygenated blood, which causes a flushed face and cheeks," she says.
Getting some fresh air will also do you some good, whether that means leaving the room, opening a window or sitting by a fan, says Corey L. Hartman, MD, founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Alabama School of Medicine.
"Your skin will be allowed to breathe, and the sweat and oil will evaporate more efficiently," Dr. Hartman says. Splash some cold water on your face during and after a workout to reduce a flushed face.
If you're feeling really flushed and continuously sweating after exercise, you can also add ice packs to your post-workout routine, says Nick Occhipinti, CSCS, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and exercise physiologist. "I put an ice pack anywhere on my lower back or lower body so it's out of sight to cool me down so I will stop sweating," he says.
2. Opt for Low-Intensity Workouts
When you're thinking quick and dirty, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is usually the way to go because they let you do a ton in a short amount of time.
The problem is that any heat your body produces during exercise (and how much you sweat) is taken to the max with high-intensity workouts, Olson says. With HIIT, you may even find yourself profusely sweating after exercise.
That's why, if you have a meeting scheduled immediately after your lunchtime workout, it can be best to stick with low-intensity exercises, such as yoga, Olson says. See how hot you get and tweak your intensity from there.
3. Wash Your Face
The silver lining of Zoom meetings is that others in your chat only have to see you from your chest up. So, if you don't have time to take a shower, no one has to know.
That said, you still want to clean your face. "The face is the oiliest part of the body with the highest concentration of oil glands," Dr. Hartman says. So grab your favorite soap, and give your face and neck a quick wash.
Or, if you're short on time, face wipes can come in handy. Carlos Davila, an instructor and diversity and inclusion officer at Fhitting Room, uses Fulton & Roark Aftershave Cloths ($28; FultonAndRoark.com), and Occhipinti turns to the brand Every Man Jack Volcanic Clay facial wipes ($6; EveryManJack).
Dr. Hartman stresses, though, that one-use wipes aren't great for the environment, and biodegradable ones may contain ingredients that can cause irritation. So pay attention to how your face responds to any brands you try.
"Don't get me wrong, they are better than nothing and can stand in the gap after a workout to quickly cleanse or degrease, but they can never take the place of a real cleansing with water and some sort of cleanser," he says.
4. Go Natural
There is no need to go with a full-on glam face for a virtual meeting, says Hope Elliot, a certified yoga instructor. She's always bouncing between teaching and taking virtual classes, as well as hopping on Zoom business meetings. So to make things easy for herself, she often just lets her skin be.
"My busiest days also tend to be my makeup-free days," she says. "This allows me to seamlessly transition from teaching to work calls and be able to get a quick training session in for myself without having to worry if I'm going to get makeup on my clothes."
Instead, try these low-maintenance options to keep your skin looking fresh:
Hydrating Mists and Moisturizers
To freshen up after a workout, Elliot uses Cosmedix's Mystic Hydrating Treatment ($42; Dermstore.com), a lightweight hydrating mist.
"It gives the most beautiful glowing effect and can be used throughout the day," she says. Dr. Hartman also suggests Avène Thermal Spring Water ($9; AveneUSA.com), which he says is a great mist that's marketed as unisex.
If you're more into legit lotions, you'll love Belei by Amazon's Bio-Complex Moisturizer ($16.91; Amazon.com). It's free of fragrance and parabens, making it ideal for people with sensitive skin.
Serums are known for moisturizing and bolstering your skin's brightness instantly. Try the Brown Girl Jane Glow Luminous Facial Serum (from $36; BrownGirlJane.com) or the Belei by Amazon Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum ($15.19; Amazon.com).
Dr. Hartman says you can also turn to serums with niacinamide, also known as Vitamin B3. "It is a potent anti-inflammatory ingredient that doubles as an antioxidant," he says. "It calms redness, improves texture and gives a nice glow — even at the last minute."
His niacinamide recomendations: Good Molecules Niacinamide Serum ($6; GetGoodMolecules.com) or Skinceuticals Metacell Renewal Serum B3 ($112; Skinceuticals.com). "If all else fails, a tinted sunscreen moisturizer like Isdin Eryfotona Ageless ($66; Isdin.com) can cancel out the red and provide a nice even tone," says Dr. Hartman.
"Lighting is everything," says Megan Roup, founder of The Sculpt Society app. She swears by her selfie ring light for a natural glow on video meetings. "It makes such a difference." Try the Selfila Video Conference Clip-On Ring Light ($25.80; Amazon.com).
5. Try an Easy Hairstyle
If you're going for a blowout, flat-iron or curled look, more power to you. But if you're like the rest of us, you're likely looking for the path to the least resistance.
Use Dry Shampoo
Applying a few spritzes of dry shampoo after a workout can help get rid of some of the sweat build-up in your hair and hide any sweating after exercise. Try the cult favorite, Klorane Dry Shampoo With Oat Milk ($20; Ulta.com).
FYI, dry shampoos shouldn't take the place of the real (wet) thing, so when you have more free time after your Zoom sessions, make sure you wash your hair properly to avoid dandruff, scalpne and other infections.
Pull It Back
If you have long hair and want to keep it out of your face, loosely pull it back into a pony or a high messy bun. Just be sure to steer clear of using rubber bands to tie your hair, which can cause breakage.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using hair ties that are covered, such as the Invisibobble Traceless Hair Ring ($8; Invisibobble.com), Scunci No Slip Elastic Hair Bair ($4.18; Amazon.com) or Slip Silk Scrunchie ($39 per pack of 6; Slip.com).
And if you have natural hair, you can help maintain your hairstyle during your workouts by trying a protective style, like braids or twists. Bonus: On video calls, braids always look polished.
Wrap It Up
After your workout, reach for a brightly colored turban, like the Grace Eleyae Mustard Satin-Lined Knot Turban ($34.94; GraceEleyae.com) or a pretty patterned scarf, such as the Corciova Square Stain Silk-Like Hair Wrapping Scarves ($8.95; Amazon.com).
"I find that wrapping my hair in a scarf and throwing on some chunky earrings is a great way to feel put-together," Elliot says, who notes that water, shea butter and some quick attention to her edges does wonders.
Meanwhile, when Davila doesn't pull his elbow-length locks up in a post-workout bun, he throws on a Fadora or a beanie to keep his hair looking presentable and stylish.
Use Beard Oils
Beard oil can be a quick way to freshen up and groom your facial hair. Dr. Hartman recommends products that are free of comedogenic oils like coconut oil. "Preferred oils that don't clog pores are argan oil, flaxseed oil and grapeseed oil," he says.
Try products such as Bevel Beard Oil ($14.95; GetBevel.com) or Kiehl's Grooming Solutions Nourishing Beard Grooming Oil ($30; Kiehls.com).
6. Dress to Impress
Dressing for the office takes on a new meaning when you're working from home. Lucky for you, it also means you just have to worry about looking your best from the waist up, which is even better if you're trying to pull it together after a lunchtime workout. Here's how to make it work.
The first rule of dressing post-workout: "Choose a material that doesn't show it's wet," says Occhipinti. That's especially important if you're prone to sweating after exercise. "Cotton or even a blended shirt usually gets darker when covered in sweat. A dry-fit type of material that wicks moisture usually won't show as much sweat."
The color matters too. "Grays, reds, greens, and blues will show some of the most change in color when you sweat but black usually hides it pretty well," he says.
Occhipinti's first choice is a black Under Armor non-cotton shirt. Consider the Under Armour Men's UA Greatest (Tee) Ever ($80; UnderArmour.com). We love that it doesn't have a front-facing logo, so no one will ever suspect it's workout gear.
Davila turns to brands like RYU, which conveniently offers a range of styles marketing to men and women. "They have great athleisure pieces," he says.
Go for Layers
Another tip: wear pieces that are easy to throw on over your workout clothes. "I love a lightweight track jacket," Roup says. "It's a simple, sophisticated way to make any workout outfit look more pulled together and professional. It's the perfect throw-on after a workout, especially when you're jumping into a Zoom call."
Try this Athleta Pranayama Wrap ($89; Athleta.com) or a jacket, such as the Tory Sport Printed Nylon Packable Jacket ($248; ToryBurch.com), over a tank. If you're feeling the least bit chilly, we can't get enough of former boxing champ Laila Ali's Floral Print Peached Fleece Sweatshirt ($70; HSN.com).
Freshen Up After a Workout: The Bottom Line
Making yourself camera-ready after a lunchtime workout isn't that difficult, but it does take a little extra thought and effort. It's nothing you can't handle, though. Remember, you just worked out!