We Asked An Expert: Should You Wear Makeup While You Work Out?

January 18, 2016 by Lisa Fogarty
shefinds | beauty

If you’ve spent any time in a gym, spin class or yoga studio, chances are it’s happened to you. You’ve strolled in straight out of bed only to encounter women looking so glam you can’t help but wonder which club they’re headed to after their workout. It’s natural to want to look and feel our best, particularly when we’re being forced to stare into a floor-to-ceiling mirror while clad in spandex, but that old adage about not wearing makeup while you work out to spare your skin still applies. If you rock a full face of foundation, BB cream or powder to the gym, experts say you’re getting in the way of your own effort to look great because your skin is, ultimately, bound to suffer. 

“When you exercise you sweat which is normally a good thing. However, when you are working out with makeup on that sweat can lock all the artificial compounds that are in the makeup in your pores,” says Dr. David E. Bank at The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery. “This can lead to irritation, clogged pores and acne breakouts.” As such, Bank advises against wearing foundation or cover-up during workouts.

But anyone who has spent 30 minutes on a treadmill after artfully applying winged eyeliner knows foundation isn’t the only cosmetic that doesn’t belong at a gym. “When you sweat during your workout, makeup has a tendency to melt as the whole face and body gets heated,” says celebrity makeup artist Tonya Crooks, founder of The BrowGal. “Oil-based cosmetics in particular, including eyeliner and foundation, have a tendency to melt when body temperature increases and ruin the makeup look.”

If all this talk has you thinking, “Great, this means I’ll get to stare at my dark circles while doing pilates,” Crooks offers tips on makeup and skincare products that you can safely wear to the gym:

Moisturizer. “Glowing, refreshed skin is the base of any beautiful look,” Crooks says. “Keep either a hydrating toner or a travel moisturizer in your gym bag to quickly replenish moisture to your skin.”

Sunscreen: “SPF is super important rain or shine. To keep it easy, take a small tube of tinted moisturizer with SPF with you. This gives you light coverage, hydration, and SPF all in one.”

Brows: “Bold brows instantly update and pull together any look. The BrowGal Skinny Eyebrow Pencil is a three in one tool with spoolie brush, sharpener and pencil all in one so it’s super easy to create dramatic, fresh brows on the go. Set them with the waterproof Eyebrow Gel from The BrowGal, which can withstand swimming and sweating.”

Lipstick: “A neutral rosy toned lipstick helps to keep things look fresh.”

Lash Extensions: “I’m a huge fan of lash extensions. You can wake up and look beautiful and ready to go. They can withstand the gym much better than mascara.”

Check out the bestselling product from top beauty brands and how to prevent winter hair breakage.

[Photo: Ania B]


Lisa Fogarty is a lifestyle writer and reporter based in New York who covers health, wellness, relationships, sex, beauty, and parenting.

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