How to take on the gym and look glorious afterwards

Speedy gym-bag solutions to see off sweaty hair, shiny faces and even save you time in the shower

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By Elle Turner on

My favourite way of avoiding looking like a clammy mess after a gym session is to go in the evening, and stagger home under the cover of darkness. Clever, eh? But for those dedicated enough to wake up early and head there before work, or even during a lunch break, I've found nine excellent products to take you from boiling hot and slightly slippery, to cool, calm, spruced and ready to face the world. And all in under five minutes. 


Described as "a super speedy shower in a sheet", these waterless wipes are ideal for cleansing, refreshing and deodorising your skin if you don't have time to hop in the shower. Infused with anti-bacterial neem extract, peppermint and citrus (and free from alcohol and harsh chemicals), they're like an XXL face wipe that you can whizz all over your body. They smell lovely and fresh, leave you feeling clean and are very easy indeed to use. And, since the wipes are biodegradable and compostable, they're environmentally friendly, too.


Best for salvaging sweaty hair: Living Proof Perfect Hair Day

I've written about this stuff before, but it is literally magic. Unlike other dry shampoos, this makes hair feel clean rather than just making it look clean (though it does a great job of this, too). It mops up sweat and grease and then lifts it away, without leaving the crispy, powdery crunch you normally find with dry shampoos. Case in point: it rescued my near-unsalvagable hair after a sweaty HIIT class and turned it into something fresh, soft and wholly more presentable. Like I said, magic.


Best for fresh breath: Iko Finger Toothbrush

If you're up at the crack of dawn and straight out of the house to get to the gym, skip the shower until later and save on time spent in front of the sink cleaning your teeth. Iko's Finger Toothbrush can be used on the go, without water or toothpaste. The little plastic bristles release fluoride on contact with your teeth and gums, give a thorough clean and taste like cool mint for lovely fresh breath. And, you can use them up to 100 times.


Best to take down shine: Clinique Fit Post-workout Mattifying Moisturizer

This feels fresh and dewy when applied to your face but dries quickly to a velvety-smooth, matte consistency. Give your face a once-over with the aforementioned wipes and then apply this to clean skin. While it may feel counterintuitive to apply moisturiser to a clammy face, a mattifying version (this one contains no oil) is much better at evening-out shine than powder, which ends up cakey when mixed with moisture.


Best for a cool-down: Caudalie Grape Water

If you need an instant cool-down, Caudalie's Grape Water is infinitely refreshing – especially if you stick it in the fridge before the gym. Made entirely from organic grape water, it's gentle enough for sensitive skin and is preservative and fragrance free. What's more, it helps boost the moisture you've just sweated out. Win-win.


Best for fighting pong: Sure Maximum Protection Deodorant

This is the absolute best deodorant for keeping you dry and fresh even after an extreme workout (our deputy editor, Lucy, swears by it). Apply it before bed  to clean armpits (as that's when your sweat glands are less active) and it will see you through the whole of the next day. You can normally pick it up on offer in Boots.


Best for keeping your hair off your face: Popband hair ties

These soft, fabric hair ties don't use metal clasps that catch and rip hair, nor will they leave a dent. They last well, are easier to find in your gym bag than normal elastics and they're strong enough to keep hair from budging when tied up. They look lovely, too.


Best for dry hair – fast: Aquis Hair Lisse Luxury Hair Towel 

If you have enough time for a shower, but not the faff after, Aquis' hair towel will help cut down on drying time. The fabric is made of ultra fine, absorbant fibres that help to dry hair five times quicker. Plus, it's much lighter and more compact than normal hair towels, so is perfect for throwing in your gym bag.


Best for a quick pick-me-up: Charlotte Tilbury Beach Stick

As an extra bonus, it's always nice to have a bit of make-up on hand to make you feel more human again. Charlotte Tilbury's Beach Sticks are great for this as they're portable, and work across lips, cheeks and even eyes. Sweep them over skin to add a fresh wash of colour.




This is part of our Fitness Honestly Week, an editorial series on real women's exercise journeys

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