| September 9, 2013

Pre-gym priming? It’s a major no-no, but aside from your beauty efforts sliding down your face faster than the tears you’ll shed for that pesky pimple that just won’t go away, it can interfere with your determination to fit into those skinny jeans with ease.

READ: How to Avoid a Makeup Meltdown This Summer

It was recently reported that “more than a quarter of all British women wear a full set of makeup when they visit the gym,” resulting in burning fewer calories. And let’s face it, who wants to look like a sweaty hot mess when you have your favorite lipstick and powder down pat?

But packing on the cosmetic pounds does more harm than good.

“Wearing makeup at the gym is just about the worst thing you can do to your complexion,” says Dr. Ava Shamban, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at UCLA. “Combined with oil and perspiration, it creates a pore-plugging sludge that can result in blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, ashiness, and allergies. On the eyelids, unwashed mascaras, shadows and highlighters can plug the pores, creating little cysts called milia. And if you’re working hard, eye makeup can melt into your eyes.”

“When you work out, your sweat glands and pores open up to aid the body in cooling down and releasing heat,” adds Dr. Tony Nakhla, clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California Irvine. “Imagine the cakey, muddy mess that ensures when those pores and sweat ducts are blocked by thick makeup products. The results are breakouts, bumps and blackheads."

Duly noted. But just like with your diet, everyone deserves a cheat day every now and then to feel their best. And while keeping your face clean, bare and moisturized with SPF is always the best choice, there are some simple tricks you can follow to keep your skin flawless without compromising your workout. Find out what the experts have to say below:

Get Squeaky Clean

Hitting the shower after a rigorous workout is a no-brainer, but doctors say it’s just as important to thoroughly clean your face before heading to the gym. This will keep your pores clog-free. And the more flawless your face looks, the less likely you’ll need makeup to hide it. “For oily or acne-prone skin, wash your face before working out with a light, oil-free cleanser,” says Dr. Adam Friedman, director of dermatologic research at New York-based Montefiore Medical Center. “Before drying off, use a thin facial moisturizer like Cetaphil to lock in moisture. This will protect your skin from the irritating salts in your sweat.”  

Neiman Marcus and Clinique.com
Forget Foundation

The biggest mistake you can do is caking on the liquid or powder foundation. While it’s great at hiding skin imperfections, working up a sweat will cause it to melt and drip down your face. Fortunately, you can still cover up without the gunk. “BB and water-resistant CC creams treat your skin while also offering slight coverage that can diffuse those distracting trouble spots while giving you the necessary SPF for travels to the gym,” explains Emmy Award-winning makeup artist Vanessa Elese. “Because these products repair, moisturize, perfect and protect, you really cannot go wrong. Consider it a mini facial while you are working out.”

Focus on Hair

Since you have to keep the makeup as minimal as possible, use that as an opportunity to rock amazing hair. Consider a classic bun or a trendy topknot to keep flyaways from sticking on your face, all while giving the usual ponytail a much-needed break. When finished exercising, spritz dry shampoo to absorb excess oil. 

Make Up For Ever
Eyes on You

When it comes to playing up the eyes, leave the smoky look for nighttime. “Wearing too much eye makeup is more of a visual no-no than a skin problem,” explains celebrity makeup artist Amanda Shackleton. For the eyes, it’s recommend to use an eyelash curler, followed by a quick application of waterproof mascara to avoid streaks. But if you can’t be seen without your eyeliner, make sure to also score the waterproof version of your favorite brand. “To avoid looking like Alice Cooper, use a waterproof formula line, like Make Up Forever’s Aqua Eyes,” says Shackleton. “It will do the trick without it running down your face.”


Makeup artists say having well-groomed eyebrows can perk up your overall look, and with good reason. “Just brushing your eyebrows with a spooly and some brow gel can frame your face nicely,” says Shamban. Be daring and keep the face bare with just oil-free SPF for protection against aging sun rays. If you suffer from oily-skin, make sure to keep some backup handy. “Bring a packet of baby wipes or blotting papers with you to wipe down midway through your workout,” she says.

Perfect Pout

Sorry red lip lovers, but it’s best to leave the tube of lipstick at home. Instead, keep your pucker moisturized with just a hint of color that won’t fade or smear. “Try a cheek and lip tint to offer a quick pick-me-up,” says Elese. If you find your lip stain to be drying, simply apply some lip balm for extra moisture.


If your skin is (nearly) blemish-free, let it breathe when exercising. Dermatologists and makeup artists insist you can get away with hiding any imperfections with a waterproof concealer, which is only meant to be dabbed on the problematic areas. It’s like being au natural with a little help.


"Regardless of whether you wear makeup or not, washing your face after a workout is essential to clear the sweat, dirt and dead skin cells,” says Friedman. “Use a mild cleanser, like Purpose or Cetaphil, followed by a facial moisturizer with SPF 30 (or higher) and broad spectrum sun-blocking ingredients.” Not only will you ultimately see the results from your workout, but it will also show on your face, too.