The Do’s and Don’ts of Hot Yoga

Natasha Burton
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woman doing yoga

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Hot yoga is one of the most popular—and energizing—ways to get fit. You’re working your muscles, quieting your mind, and—of course—sweating your buns off. (Which kind of makes you feel like you’re working extra hard, right?)

But where there’s lots of moisture and physical exertion, there are some beauty and health concerns. We talked to yoga teachers and beauty pros to get the skinny on how you can sweat it out safely. (And without breaking out.)

Do: Keep your hair out of your face.

Invest in a cute hair band to keep bangs and wispy hairs off your forehead and the side of your face, says hot yoga devotee and beauty expert Hilary Kennedy. “The oils from your hair can transfer to your face and cause breakouts,” she explains.

Don’t: Wear makeup.

Always go to hot yoga with a clean face, Kennedy advises. “Makeup combined with sweat will clog your pores,” she says. “Your mascara can run and get into your eyes, and the result can be painful eye irritation.” If you go straight to yoga from the office, do as hot power yoga teacher Jes Gale does and throw makeup remover in your bag—she uses Yes to Cucumber Facial Wipes—so you can towel off before you hit your mat.

MORE: How to Use Yoga For Weight Loss

Certified yoga teacher Dina Ramon also advises not wearing lotion on your face either. “This is particularly important for people with acne or who are acne prone,” she explains. “Since the amount of sweat is tremendous —for most people who do hot yoga—the skin should be clean. Lotion can also run into your eyes due to sweat and should be avoided.”

Do: Take advantage of the room’s heat for beauty benefits.

The humidity of a hot yoga room can be great for locking in moisture. Kennedy suggests rubbing cuticle oil on your nails before class—just be sure it doesn’t get on your palms, which can make your hands slip—and applying deep conditioner to your hair. “Wrap your hair up in a tight bun, and let it condition your hair during class,” she says. “Rinse and shampoo as usual afterward for soft and shiny hair.”

Don’t: Chug water before class.

While you don’t want to enter class dehydrated, you also don’t want to be waterlogged. “You will feel bloated and probably have to leave class to go to the bathroom,” Ramon says.

Do: Drink water during and after class. 

But be sure your water temp isn’t too cold—definitely don’t put any ice in your water bottle. “Ice water causes an internal shock to the digestive system and counteracts the healing and detoxifying effects of sweating it out in heat,” Gale says. “Go with normal room temperature water for the duration of a heated yoga class. Most likely, lukewarm water will taste cool and refreshing because the room is so warm anyway.”

For an added boost, private yoga instructor Christina Scalera suggests buying electrolyte tabs or powder to dissolve in your bottle so you can stay energized for class and replenish lost nutrients after.

MORE: A Yoga Expert’s Advice On Targeting Muscles For Toning

Do: Sanitize your mat after every class.

Sure, it might seem like a hassle to wash down your mat but you don’t want bacteria to grow. (A hot room means more microscopic critters.) “You can use chemical disinfectants like a diluted bleach solution or there are commercially available sprays, like the popular one from Manduka,” Scalera says. “You can also make your own using tea tree oil, water, rubbing alcohol and a spray bottle. If you add a few drops of an essential oil to your home solution it will smell even better. Citrus and floral essential oils are pleasant and may have additional disinfectant benefits.”

Don’t: Keep your mat in a bag.

To keep bacteria at bay carry your mat with a strap instead of in a bag. “And if you have the time and the wherewithal to unroll it and let it dry when you get home, more power to you,” Scalera says.

Do: Change and shower soon after class.

Just as you don’t want bacteria to linger on your mat, you also don’t want it sitting on your skin. “Bring another workout or regular bra to change into after class to avoid chest and back breakouts, and towel off the sweat from those areas when changing,” Ramon advises. And be sure to shower soon after class—avoid the urge to run errands on the way home or meet friends for happy hour. Even if your sweat has dried, the residue can still cause breakouts.

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