We’ve all been there. You know it’s not the greatest idea to wear makeup during a rigorous workout, but you do it anyway.
You may not have time to wash your face in between work and the gym, or perhaps you have a job that causes you to perspire to some degree (hello, Pilates instructors!). Maybe you just want to look picture perfect while you exercise—hey, we’re not here to judge.
If you don’t select the right products, though, you could wind up looking like a hot mess, your date-night palette smeared on your face at the end of your workout. Experts agree it’s not advisable to wear makeup while exercising. If it’s not designed to withstand perspiration, it will come off, and when you sweat you create an ideal environment for breakouts (sweat plus makeup equals a breeding ground for zit-causing bacteria).
But we know many women would rather die than go to the gym without their blemishes and dark spots covered. So if you’re in that category, follow the experts’ guidance. Your complexion will thank you.
Makeup advice from the pros
YouBeauty Cosmetic Chemistry Expert Ni’Kita Wilson says when shopping for cosmetics that can take the heat of a vigorous workout, “look for the most transfer-resistant makeup possible; it has a better chance of surviving your workout or physically demanding job. Pick a makeup with light coverage. Heavier coverage makeup has more pigment and is more likely to get caught in your pores, causing breakouts.”
Silicone-based foundations are best suited to exercise conditions, according to makeup artist Kevin James Bennett, a cosmetics expert for the International Esthetics Advisory Board of Leslie Baumann, M.D., dermatologist and author of The Skin Type Solution.
“The cosmetic silicone molecules are too large to penetrate or become lodged in pores and are naturally water resistant,” he says.
Rae Cosmetics (a line of makeup designed for active women) Founder Rochelle Rae says makeup worn during exercise should be oil-free, allowing the skin to breathe.
“Oil-based cosmetics trap the sweat under the makeup, forcing it [to smear],” she says.
Another buzz kill: The American Academy of Dermatology says if you’re prone to breakouts, oil-based moisturizers and makeup can cause acne, whiteheads, and blackheads. To avoid looking like a pizza-faced teenager, the organization recommends selecting products that are “non-comedogenic” or “non-acnegenic.”
Block those rays
Try these natural-look makeup application tips from Rae Cosmetics Founder Rochelle Rae:
Bikers and hikers take note: Sunscreen is an active woman’s best line of defense against skin damage, says Dr. Baumann.
“Women should wear sunscreen daily, especially if they’re active outside. The product they choose needs to be as waterproof as possible,” she advises.
Dr. Baumann recommends a brand of sunscreen with a good UVA blocker such as La Roche-Posay Anthelios, Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch or SkinCeuticals Sport UV Defense. She prefers SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense over foundation because it’s a tinted sunscreen that can take the place of regular, non-protecting makeup.
Dr. Baumann has a word of advice for women with what she describes as “red rosacea-like, stinging skin.”
“It’s best they not wash their faces prior to exercise, because the natural oils on the skin may protect it from the harshness of sweat,” she says.
She encourages all women to wash their faces after a workout to prevent pimples even further.
Cosmetic brands to try
CoverFX: Bennett recommends this line, developed in conjunction with a dermatologist, because the products are oil-free and ideal for women suffering from sensitive skin conditions like rosacea.
Skindinavia: The Original Makeup Finishing Spray is an oil-free product that prevents makeup from slipping, melting and creasing, without the need for touch-ups and blotting.
Rae Cosmetics: Rae developed a line of mineral-based cosmetics with non-chemical sunscreen that’s a go-to for many active women and athletes. The prevalence of heavy, pore-choking makeup in the beauty industry inspired her to create longer lasting, natural-looking cosmetics for women who sweat. The cosmetics contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, minerals that are insoluble, meaning they stay put even when you sweat.
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