When you work out so much that sometimes it feels like you shower more in your gym's locker room than your own bathroom at home (admit it, you've been there - I know I can't be the only one that feels like this!) it's really important to have a good gym shower system in place, and by that, I mean the right products. After all, your skin is your biggest organ, and you do need to look after it. I'm on an everlasting quest to find the best solutions for this situation, and in order to make it into my go-to rotation, the items in question have to a) Serve a purpose, b) Be portable, c) Be effective, and d) Be good products rather than average freebies. I do save toiletries from nice hotels when I stay in a place that has great products (come on, we all do, and those Bliss and Molton Brown minis available in trendier upscale hotels are absolutely perfect for upgrading your on-the-go shower kit), but since that's not always obtainable, here are a few of my other regular go-tos.
1. Kiehl's Baby Gentle Hair and Body Wash
Yes, I am aware this is a baby product. But it's super gentle, and you can use it on both of your hair and skin - which means that you only have to carry one bottle (and one that actually stays sealed - there's few things more annoying than a container that will leak the sticky soapy stuff all over your gym bag, so you have to wash all of your kit and assorted gear along with the bag interior itself, with bubbles sprouting up while you try to do so), but it's also great if you have sensitive skin and are showering numerous times a day due to multiple gym visits, or in an environment with potentially harsh water, depending on how gritty or fancy your gym is.
2. Batiste Travel-Size Dry Shampoo
It's mini, it keeps your hair from looking gross, and it deodorizes it so it smells better too. A lot of my workouts are so sweaty and intense that I have no choice but to wash my hair afterwards, but if I'm doing something lighter like a non-sweaty yoga class for instance, or if I know I'm going to train again later that day and my hair did not get sweaty at all (I hate having sweaty hair that stays dirty, it's gross), then this is a saviour. Another tip: You can also spray a bit of this stuff on before a workout so that the sweat get sucked right up into it and your hair will actually stay fresh throughout the workout. Again, this only applies if you're doing a mild to moderate intensity workout. If you're doing something like circuits or boxing, where I get so sweaty that it actually drips into my eyes (yes, I know, so sexy), then just wash your dang hair for the sake of your scalp, please - no blowdry is worth it, and you can just spritz on some Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray on your wet hair after for gorgeous beach waves instead. I love the Batiste Travel Size Dry Shampoo, or Klorane's Travel Size as well, though you can't buy the latter in the UAE yet unfortunately (not that I've found anyway!). If you do want to dry your hair, the Dyson Supersonic Hairdryer is an epic device to own - not only does it take up hardly any space in your gym bag thanks to its clever and unique design, but it's powerful and dries hair fast, is relatively quiet compared to many other alternatives, and it cools down quickly. The magnetic diffuser also clips on and off easily without needing to be screwed on which means you have less chance of damaging it should it get knocked off in your gym bag. It's a winner.
3. Adidas ClimaCool Roll-On Deodorant
The need for deodorant is one that requires no explanation. Sprays risk exploding or malfunctioning in the heat of your car, and a good roll-on lasts longer, in my experience. Believe it or not, Adidas actually makes a range of deodorants (which a lot of people I've met have not realized!) and they are actually pretty awesome - this ClimaCool one smells fresh and is mega effective, without being sticky or leaving streaks. It's a winner.
4. Neutrogena Makeup Removing Wipes
Working out with a full face of makeup can be terrible for your skin - you're basically going to sweat all of that gunk into your pores, which are open thanks to the heat of your workout. Swipe it all of quickly and easily before a workout with some good makeup removing wipes, and you're good to go.
5. A Good Moisturizer, Hair Conditioner, and Refillable Cosmetic Travel Containers
My current favourite moisturizer seems to be on a rotation. Right now, I'm got some from Murad, Kiehl's, GlamGlow, and Clarins on heavy rotation for my face, and some from Laura Mercier, Jergens, Nivea, and surprisingly, one from Ted Baker, on repeat for the body. For my hair, good conditioners that I'm currently loving include Mane & Tail Aloe Vera or Coconut conditioner, Hask Argan Oil conditioner, Frederic Fekkai Protein Rx conditioner, and Kiehl's Damage Repairing & Rehydrating conditioner. If they come in a travel size, then brilliant - if I'm a regular buyer of some of these brands, I'll ask for samples while I'm buying the full size so that I'm given minis of the things I already love (ideal for gym bags or travel), but otherwise, a great solution if you don't have the space or inclination to carry the full-size with you everywhere you go, is to pour some into refillable containers that often come in a neat little pouch that you can chuck into your gym bag. You can get these cheaply at places like Carrefour, or find sturdier and cuter ones at places like Typo.
6. Tangle Teezer Brush
When your long-haired guy friends rave about a hairbrush, you know it's something good. The Tangle Teezer may look like a toy, but this thing is amazing - it saves your hair from being yanked out, works just as well on straight or curly hair (curly-haired and wavy-haired girls, this is actually kind to your texture!), and is so gentle yet fast and effective that it's ruining me for most other hairbrushes even outside of the gym. It also comes with a snap-on "lid" so it doesn't snag on the rest of your gear, and is easy to clean.
7. A Travel Perfume
When you're getting ready as fast as you can, in a gym, it can be hard to feel glamorous no matter how hard you try at times. A few spritzes of an awesome perfume can make a huge difference in feeling more feminine, beautiful, and all-around glam, and a travel-size version of your favourite perfume can be a great solution. One of my favourite perfumes is Chanel's Coco Mademoiselle (also a huge fan of pretty much anything by Chloe, and their full-size containers in the smaller sizes are actually quite portable as well), and it comes in an amazing travel option that boasts a twist-and-spray head. Which means that it won't be wasted all over your bag, and can be chucked in anywhere. If your favourite doesn't come in a travel option, just invest in a refillable generic mini perfume atomizer (which you can get at Sephora) and fill that up instead. Just remember: This is for after your workout, not before. Sure, you might feel more pepped up when you spritz yourself with some heavy out scent before you sweat it out, but I guarantee that your workout neighbors won't appreciate it when that scent starts emanating off of your sweating pores and choking them in the process. Be considerate and make sure you smell clean and fresh beforehand (nobody wants to choke on body odor either, but I've been on the unfortunate receiving end of that way too many times of that for my liking), but save the heavier, perfumed scents for after.
8. A Good Sunblock
It doesn't matter how much you look after your skin afterwards, if you let it suffer from sun damage, it's going to age faster and be open to a whole load of other problems (it's not just skin cancer you know, though that's obviously a major one!) Having a good sunblock on hand at all times is necessary, especially when you live in the Middle East. I love Bioderma's Photoderm Max for the face (which comes in SPF 50+ or 100+ and is light, non-sticky and makes a great base for your moisturizer or makeup without you feeling it all day, or giving you that odd sunscreen sheen in photos - you can find it at pharmacies like Boots), Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Spray SPF50+, and Sun Bum Sunscreen Spray - it's easy to spray on and cover everywhere quickly, effective without being sticky or uncomfortable, it's waterproof and sweat proof, with UVA/UVB protection and Vitamin E for skin kindness, and is hypoallergenic, paraben free, gluten free, vegan, oil free, and PABA free. You can find it at Surf House Dubai and Go Sports stores.
9. Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz Pencil
If you don't have time to put on makeup, eyebrows can be the glue that holds it all together and are often all you need. If you're looking for a longer-term, bigger investment solution, I'd suggest microblading (I wax poetic on that in another post!) but otherwise, a good brow pencil like this one is pretty effective and long-lasting.
10. A Bold Lipstick
I'm not a fan of wearing makeup to the gym - not only will it sweat right into your pores and probably leave your skin worse off afterwards, it will just feel icky. Let your skin breathe, if you can - but after your workout, quick and easy products are the way to go. I'm a big fan of NARS' tinted moisturizers, or Urban Decay's Naked Skin Foundation, or if you don't even need that you can skip straight to the concealer (NARS' Radiant Creamy Concealer and L'Oreal's True Match are my favourites). Once that's done, a quick brow pencil and swipe of mascara (my favourite for the past decade has been Yves Saint Laurent's False Lash Effect) should do it, but if you need to step it up, there isn't much better than a classic red or hot pink pout to make you look done up even when it took a few mere seconds. Some of my favourites include NARS Semi Matte Lipstick in Schiap, Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Outlaw, Christian Louboutin Beauty Lipstick in Velvet Matte Red, The Face Shop Melting Colour Lipstick in MELT03, or Sephora Collection Cream Lip Stain Liquid Lipstick in Radiant Orchard.