Wearing Makeup While Exercising: The Truth

Wearing Makeup While Exercising: The Truth

Fitness is more social now than ever before. Meeting your friends for yoga, asking neighbours if they’ll be at spinning class on Tuesday, or even just a post-lunch walk with a co-worker... these are all so common now.

And where does makeup fit in to this new world of social fitness? Well, it should fit in just fine, as long as you're smart about it! Working out in makeup doesn't need to be as taboo as some believe it is. In this week's post, we're here to set the record straight and help you look your best while feeling your best, too!

To begin, let's address the biggest problems people have with wearing makeup to the gym, before getting real about the world we live in, and ending on some easy solutions and workout makeup routine suggestions!

The Argument Against Working Out in Makeup

Makeup Can Block Pores

Honestly, this is a perfectly valid point! When working out or engaging with other fitness-focused activities, our bodies tend to heat up and produce sweat. This opens our pores up to breathe — and makeup sitting on the skin can complicate things. Our bodies will still sweat, of course. That's not the problem. The problem is that our open pores are more susceptible to makeup-related dirt and debris becoming trapped, which can lead to acne and other skin irritations.

There are actually quite a few solutions to this problem worth considering, which we will address later in the Workout Friendly Makeup Suggestions section of the post!

Bacteria Clings to Makeup

Very few fitness activities require touching absolutely nothing. We all have a favourite machine to use at the gym. Even at-home yoga involves touching the mat. As aforementioned, our pores open up to allow for sweat and heat escape while we're exercising. If you're wearing heavy makeup, bacteria have something extra to hold on to, again leading to increased risk of acne or other skin irritation. These bacteria can easily be picked up on other machines, benches, mats, medicine balls...even your own phone, for something as innocent as skipping to the next song!

Now while this is a good point, you shouldn't overthink it. Humans love to touch their faces. We do it so regularly, that we hardly even think about it. It's just an instinct. We touch our faces at work, home, out in public...nowhere is off limits, really. Just wash your hands with soap regularly, or carry hand sanitizer with you. And if you're super worried and unsure about the cleanliness of your gym, well...maybe it's time to switch gyms anyway.

Sweating it Off

Some humans are just born sweaty! We all know a guy (or girl!) who's always the first to start sweating. Or maybe you're not a normally sweaty person, but your current class or routine really pushes your body hard, and you sweat more than usual.

If worrying about sweating off your makeup is distracting you during your workout, then we recommend going super minimal. Your focus should be on your posture, set number, keeping your core activated...really, makeup should come last. Again, we'll have some recommendations worth considering later on in the post!

Exercising in Makeup: The New Reality

The truth is...we're possibly the healthiest few generations that there may have ever been. In a 2016 study conducted by Coresight Research, Millennials "exercise more, eat better and smoke less than previous generations" but we can't count other generations out, either. The older generations are staying active too, partaking in swimming, light hiking, gardening, and other social yet health-conscious activities. Humans of the 21st century are more educated on health than ever before.

With that being said, here are some reasons why gym makeup looks are here to stay:

Working Out is Getting More Social

Taking a fitness class together with friends and neighbours is common nowadays, and we often turn to "gym buddies" to help us stay motivated. But it doesn't need to just be the gym, either. You may text a neighbour down the street to see if they want to take the dogs out together for a nice walk. Or maybe you have an on-going deal with a friend: you pick me up for some casual volleyball at the park, and I'll pay for healthy smoothies later.

And when we're out with others, we like to look and feel presentable. Even if it's just a pop of mascara, or lightly filling in the edges of our eyebrows. Gyms, parks, classes, trails...if you stay within your community, you're likely to meet other familiar members of the community, too, and it's nice to think hey, at least I looked presentable.

We Have Busy Schedules

A popular time to hit the gym is right after work, or even during lunch breaks. It's pretty unrealistic to remove 100% of makeup when traveling between the two, especially if you have somewhere else to be afterwards. Many adults will hit the gym after work for an hour or so, and then head off to either run a few errands, pick up the kids, or even meet up with a significant other for dinner. We live in an age where it's pretty common to do social things after work, so it's most convenient to just keep the makeup on instead of taking the time to clean it all away, cleanse, re-apply skin care, and then re-apply the makeup itself.

Looking and Feeling Good is Motivating

Many people are facing insecurity at the hands of different skin troubles. Discoloration, rosacea, acne scarring, the list goes on. But when we think we look good, we feel good, too. If you see someone at the gym wearing makeup, don't shame them. You never know what they could be struggling with, or what it took for them to become comfortable exercising in a public space. If a little concealer is what it takes to allow someone to feel comfortable going out and being active, then by all means — you rock that concealer!

Athleisure is on the Rise

Workout clothing is designed to be more stylish and versatile than ever before. Seeing women out grabbing coffee in leggings and running shoes is totally common. And with athleisure clothing, naturally, comes athleisure makeup. Honestly, yes...some people are really only wearing that super cute sports bra for the sake of a nice gym selfie. But again, when we look good, we feel so much more motivated! Feeling empowered in a flattering activewear top may call for some fun lip tint before confidently heading to yoga, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Workout Friendly Makeup Suggestions

Should you show up to spinning class in a full face of glam? No, probably not. But there are ways to subtly enhance your looks through makeup while working out, too!

Workout makeup worth considering:


It's not technically makeup, but it should be worn every day anyway, especially if you prefer being outdoors over indoor gyms.

Waterproof Mascara

We're in full support of a little lash definition, but make sure it's here to stay and won't melt into your eyes at the first sign of sweat!

Eyebrow Wax

If you're worried about sweating those brows away, fill them in lightly and then pin those pigments down with some hair wax!


Consider spot-treating! Use a concealer brush to cover small problem areas, and then cement it down with a trusted powder.

Lip Stains or Lip Tints

These lipstick alternatives deliver colour without the worry of smudging!

Foundation with Light or Buildable Coverage

You knew it was coming. Working out in foundation is the most controversial point of any gym makeup routine, but exercising in foundation doesn't need to be messy. Use a product with light or buildable coverage with good breathability, so that your pores can still get some air. It's nice to be touch-up friendly, too, for any post-workout errands or socializing!

Luckily, the Lava Art Compact Cushion foundation formula delivers buildable, breathable, touch-up friendly coverage perfect for any casual gym day or at-home routine!

The Most Important Take-Away...

Wearing makeup to the gym, working out in foundation, choosing the right mascara...none of it matters without a strong cleansing and skin care routine. Always make sure you gently remove 100% of any makeup worn throughout the day, whether you go to the gym or not! At the end of any day, cleansing and proper skin care are what really have the final say.

So is it bad to sweat in makeup? Should you remove makeup before exercising? Can you workout with foundation on? There is no definitive answer! Do what works for YOU. Everyone has different schedules, different levels of fitness, different motivations. As long as you FEEL good, that's what counts!

So get out there and feel good!
The Lava Art team

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