The Price of Looking Pretty in the Gym

exercising in makeupLook, we know every woman like to look and most importantly, feel pretty. But, we too, know that wearing makeup while exercising just isn’t quite recommended. The chances of bumping into someone we know at the gym, and not wanting them to see a sweaty and unglamorous-looking face, is the risk most women would not want to take.

For me, I look (feel) ugly every time I hit the gym. And because I exercise vigorously and hard, I perspire tons! (I know some girls who don’t want to even get to that awful smelly state in the gym.)  I will only have sunscreen on, filled brows (because they are only half the size of a full brow!), and a tint of blush to make me not look too pale and faint.

We know exercising with a full faced makeup isn’t good for you. But, we may not have time to wash our face in between work and gym, and we think just once in a while is quite forgivable.

Yet, I was wrong.

I went in straight a couple of days back with full eye makeup on, thinking I’d just work a while before removing it all. However, within 30 mins, both my eyes started swelling up, as well as the inner corners of my eyes! It turned out my tear ducts were infected, probably from the fallouts of the makeup that was blocking the ducts. I almost could not see my nose bridge then due to the swelling! I hurriedly ran out of the gym in shame!

Just how bad is working out with makeup on?

When you exercise, your body heats up and you start to perspire. Pores tend to relax and open up. With makeup or even heavy skincare products on, your pores end up being blocked and this increases the risk of an outbreak. Mix in sweat, enlarged pores, dirt and streaky makeup, your pores will clog over time. You may be lucky to not experience an outbreak, but it will definitely cause blackheads and possibly an uneven skin texture.


  • You should cleanse your skin if you have makeup on before exercising. If your skin is clean however, it is said that the natural oils on your face can protect the skin against the harshness of the sweat.
  • Drink enough water at least an hour before exercising to hydrate your system.
  • To avoid skin drying out after washing, use a light moisturizer or serum that absorbs well into your skin. A heavier product will just sweat off.
  • Applying any product (sunblock or serum) 15 mins before you start your exercise will allow for the product to be fully absorbed before you start to perspire.
  • If outdoors, choose sunblock that is waterproof. Apply when skin is cool, ideally half an hour before hitting outside into the sun.

If you MUST wear makeup….because you will absolutely not step out of the changing room without any coverage on your face…

  • Wash your face as soon after you exercise because after your skin cools down, the pores will contract and this is when the debris and dirt will trap themselves within the pores and cause infection or an outbreak.
  • Pick makeup with light coverage. You will not want a heavy product on your skin, looks incredibly awful when it starts to streak.
  • Choose water and sweat resistant makeup.
  • Silicone based products are good choices for exercising, as the silicone molecules are too large to penetrate into our pores to clog them up. Some of the brands offering silicone based foundation includes Laura Mercier, Smashbox, Make Up For Ever, L’oreal etc.
  • Stay away from oil based products, as the oil will ‘trap’ the sweat under the product and causing it to streak even more.
  • Avoid tight-lining and mascara on your eyes because the fall-offs from the eye makeup will cause irritation and possibly an infection in the eye.

My personal list of products used (before gym) :

  1. History of Whoo Whitening CC Sun Cream – this is my sunblock. Offers up to SPF 46 / PA++.
  2. Mac Select Eye Concealer – I love its light texture and provides good enough coverage for my occasional dark eye circles.
  3. Clio Gelpresso Eyeliner – A metallic beige eyeliner to just brighten up the inner under corner of my eyes. Instantly perk without excessive eye makeup.
  4. Eyebrow Pencil (varies) – To fill in my brow to make it a complete arch. I have mine shaved down to half. It will look ridiculous so there’s no way I could skip this step!
  5. Victoria Secret Beauty Rush Lip Gloss – Great gloss that adds shine yet wouldn’t leave a white residue.
  6. Shu Uemura Cream Blush Stick – occasional touch of color to the furtherest end of my cheeks to add a tint of color. Especially important if I did not sleep well the night before.

It will probably take you a while, with lots of trial and testing to find the most suitable products for your use when exercising. You do not need your full makeup collection to make you look gorgeous. Less can be more, and remember, a naturally glow-y face is way more attractive than one that’s all hidden behind a painted canvas.

wearing makeup to gym

Train hard, and build your confidence at the same time. Try to lessen the products used on your skin, and over time, your skin will really thank you for it.

Do you have any of your holy grail products to share? Leave a comment to share with us! 🙂

Love Betsy

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