The Best Gym Towels, According to Trainers, Supersweaters, and a Dermatologist

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Growing up is realizing exactly how you like your coffee, the importance of proper recovery after a workout, and the self-awareness to BYO gym towel if you’re a human sprinkler, like myself.

I know what you’re thinking: “Can I just use my T-shirt?” And because I had the same question, I asked a dermatologist. Mona Gohara, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine, says it’s not that bad in terms of skin health, but it’s also not that effective. “Usually these fabrics aren’t absorbent, so you’re transferring sweat from one location to another,” she says.

And that’s where gym towels come in. If you don’t sweat much, there’s no need for a towel, Dr. Gohara says, but for everyone else, “gym towels are great for those who feel as though sweat is accumulating on their skin.” If sweat sits on your skin for an extended period of time or dries there, it can clog pores, leading to leading to acne and preventing your skin-care routine from properly penetrating your skin. A good rule of thumb is that if sweat drips off your skin, consider a towel, Dr. Gohara says.

As for which towel? You can use the communal ones provided at your gym (they should be fine as long as they’re soft and not irritating to your skin), but Dr. Gohara prefers to bring her own from home because then “you know where it’s been.” Not to mention, there are a ton of cute gym towels out there that you’ll be excited to add to your gym bag.

If you’re now in the market for a gym towel, allow me to introduce you to some of the best. As someone who is literally always sweating with any mild physical activity, I have quite a bit of experience with sweat towels — but you don’t only have my recommendation. Ahead, get the preferred picks for the best gym towels from self-proclaimed professional sweaters, professional trainers, and more.

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