For many women, wearing makeup while working out is a bad habit—we know it’s not technically good for our skin, but we can’t seem to give up the desire to look good while breaking a sweat. Dr. Michele S. Green, a cosmetic dermatologist based in New York City, helped us decode the myths around skincare, makeup, and fitness, so you can feel confident and keep your skin as healthy as possible.
True: It’ll clog your pores.
A tried-and-true piece of advice all around? One of the best things you can do for your skin is to wash your face before and after a challenging workout.
During a good workout (be it indoors or outdoors), you will sweat,” says Green. “If you are outdoors and it is especially humid, you will perspire even more. This will result in an increased amount of clogged pores, whiteheads, and blackheads in the skin. Excess sweating during a workout will clog your pores and lead to acne, skin discoloration, and irregularities.”
False: Facial wipes do the trick.
The convenience of facial wipes cannot be denied, but Green warns against using them regularly as a way to clean your face before a workout. She recommends soap and water to remove all makeup. “Also, do not apply moisturizer [before a workout], as the excess oils really can make your skin more greasy by clogging your pores,” Green says. “Ideally, an astringent should be used immediately after exercising to clean your face.”
True: Sunscreen matters most.
“Exercising outdoors leads to the issues of sun damage and the effects of sun on your face,” says Green. “And sweating off the sunscreen.” Consider sweat-resistant sunscreen whenever possible to protect your skin for years to come.
False: Makeup is the main culprit behind breakouts.
Yoga mats, weights, and elliptical machine handles—these tools for exercise also happen to function as breeding grounds for acne-causing bacteria. Every time you touch your face while working out, you’re transporting germs, whether you’re wearing makeup or not. The solution? Wash your hands frequently, clean gym equipment before and after every use, and don’t touch your face (unless, of course, it’s to wash it).
True: Do what makes you feel confident and strong.
Like anything else, moderation is key. If wearing a little makeup makes you feel more confident during a workout, do it! Stick with minimal coverage, like an oil-free, lightweight foundation, lip balm, and waterproof, silicone-based mascara. Note that anything greasy or heavy will clog your pores, and eye makeup tends to irritate the eyes if you’re sweaty (not to mention, it smears).
“If you have a giant pimple, and you want to cover it when exercising, use an acne-drying lotion first and then put makeup on the spot itself,” says Green. “It is not a good idea to exercise with a face full of foundation. And if you want to go bare-faced during a workout, consult a board-certified dermatologist who is an expert in acne and acne treatments to help clear your skin.”
Overall, less is more. View your workout as a chance to let your skin breathe.
A Girl’s Gotta Have Options
If you simply cannot part with your makeup, try some of the new active-friendly lines out there. We love Sweat Cosmetics. Their products are sweat-resistant, all-natural, hypoallergenic and cruelty-free. Plus they have SPF protection.