From Full Beat To Fresh-Faced: What To Know About Wearing Makeup To The Gym

Whether you train with a full face or prefer to go bare, here are some tips to keep your skin happy and healthy.

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There are two kinds of women in this world: those who wear makeup to the gym and those who don’t. (There are actually plenty of other ways to talk about women, but stay with me.) And as a woman who has stood on both sides of this argument, I know the pros and cons of each firsthand. Before you judge the woman next to you, remember this: Being a woman today is challenging enough. No matter where we are or what we’re doing, at least one person will be happy to tell us how wrong our choices are. So keep this in mind: If you choose to wear makeup to the gym, that is okay. If you choose to sport bare skin, that is okay. If you want to hide your latest hormonal breakout, that is okay. If you want to revel in a natural glow, that is okay. If you feel empowered by either, that is okay.

So why wear it in the first place?

Women who choose to wear a full face at the gym may do so for a variety of reasons, many of which might be overlooked by someone who consistently goes bare. For countless women, working a 9-to-5 means driving straight to the gym after punching out. When that’s the case, taking the time to wash off a day’s worth of makeup may seem like one extra hassle amidst an already hectic schedule. There are also women who simply make it to the gym no matter their work schedule and forget to wipe off their contour/highlight combo. For others, wearing makeup offers an intentional boost of confidence when an acne flare-up wreaks havoc on her chin. For someone with cystic acne, working out in public might be a huge step; are we really going to look down on her for using some concealer? And hey, let’s not forget the times we’re secretly hoping our luxe lashes draw the attention of our latest gym crush a few treadmills down. That’s a perfectly valid reason to flex your makeup skills—don’t let anyone tell you differently! The bottom line? We’re human, and wearing makeup is not the biggest offense of gym-goers at large.

Keep in mind…

While these reasons (as well as any others that may come to mind as you read through this) are certainly understandable, working out with a face full of heavy makeup isn’t usually recommended. The heat and sweat produced during workouts open the pores. While this can be healthy and detoxifying when skin is bare, open pores beneath a thick layer of foundation and bronzer tend to cause irritation. These pores can become blocked not only by the particles of makeup but also by the dirt and bacteria that have made it onto the skin throughout the day. If you’re set on wearing makeup to a workout, it’s absolutely essential to fully cleanse your face immediately following your gym sesh. When we say immediately, we mean immediately. Make a pit stop in the women’s locker room before starting the drive home—a simple cleanser and moisturizer are enough until you have time to run through a longer skin routine. Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser is powerful enough to remove any leftover makeup and sweat while still keeping skin soft and supple. Follow with a non-comedogenic moisturizer, like La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar Mat, which can help mattify any excess oil. Trust us, this quick and simple act of self-care is a habit that will reap noticeable rewards.

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The Best of Both Worlds

For those who aren’t down to ditch the makeup altogether, try opting for lighter alternatives created with non-comedogenic ingredients and skin health in mind.

  • Tinted mineral sunscreens can offer sheer coverage while protecting the skin. Try Tarte’s BB Tinted Treatment with SPF 30; it gives a matte finish that goes on smoothly. For a bit more coverage, pick up Laura Mercier’s Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer; its SPF 20 will keep you protected, but its non-comedogenic ingredients won’t clog pores.
  • Brows are the key to looking “done” without much effort. Go for a tinted gel to keep it from sweating off. We like the Tinted Brow Gel from the brow pros at Anastasia Beverly Hills or Boy Brow from cult-favorite beauty brand Glossier.
  • Finally, follow up with a bit of waterproof mascara to keep you looking wide-eyed during those early-morning workouts. Tarte’s Lifted Sweatproof Mascara is created in a natural dark brown color that’s sure to stick.

If you’re looking for a one-stop shop, beauty box giant Birchbox has created a fitness-inspired beauty line, Arrow, and it might be exactly what your skin has been looking for. Formulated specifically for women leading an active lifestyle, this breathable skincare and beauty line promises to minimize irritation. We’re especially excited about the In the Blink of an Eye trio, which comes with waterproof mascara, eyeliner, and brow gel. Paired with their Soothing Facial Mist to cool down post-workout, Birchbox is proving that makeup at the gym is easier than ever.

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Lauren Bondi
Lauren is your average (not-so-average) multipotentialite with a drive for anything authentic. Her passion for elevating the lives of others has steered her toward serving up lessons on self-love and wholesome living. Mixing this fire with a desire to understand the science behind her passions, we have a woman who’s comfortable nerding out to explain why love is so crucial to our existence as human beings and why superfoods are truly pretty super. As she gears up to start pursuing her doctoral degree in clinical psychology, she—of course—is happily juggling a few more things. She’s one of our contributing writers whose free spirit calls her to some time spent blogging, personal training, nutrition counseling, and relentlessly light-working. Boxes? Those don’t exist with this one.