The Gym Girl’s Guide To Wearing Make-Up
Athleisure beauty products are muscling in on the cosmetics market – but isn’t wearing make-up while you sweat, well, terrible? Not necessarily... If you choose the right products
Keep your face on while you sweat? You can!
What are your gym-bag essentials? Trainers? Check. Wireless headphones? Sure. Lipstick? Apparently so. Yep – actual make-up in the gym. To work out. And it’s on the rise: the hashtag #gymselfie has been used over 1.7-million times on Instagram as women seek to look more polished as they pump iron. “Obviously, women don’t need to wear make-up to work out,” explains Emily Hines, co-founder and CFO of Sweat Cosmetics in the US, a cosmetics line designed specifically for women with active lifestyles. “But those who live an athletic lifestyle will typically wear the same make-up on their faces at 8am on their way to the office as they will while rushing to their post-work yoga class. So you’re going to need beauty products that are designed to last longer in tougher [read: sweatier] conditions.” In fact, market research giant Mintel recently noted that 39 percent of women were frustrated that colour cosmetics didn’t last the distance or survive their sweat session. The market researchers NPD Group echoed this, revealing that from March 2016 to February 2017, long-wear make-up sales increased across the board. The star performers were eyebrow products, which increased by 105 percent, lip colour by 33 percent, powder by 41 percent and foundation by 15 percent. “The needs of customers are constantly changing based on their shifting lifestyles,” says Katia Beauchamp, CEO and co-founder of Birchbox (a beautybox subscription service in the US) and its gym-friendly make-up brand Arrow. “We developed Arrow because we knew that as women increasingly view wellness as part of their lives, they’re going to need cosmetics that can both cool them down and give them energy at the same time as standing up to sweat.” So, say you’ve decided to embrace a fully made-up face while you sweat it out, rather than fiddling about with wipes and dutifully removing your face pre-lunchtime HIIT class. Do you need to worry about what cosmetics are actually doing to your skin as you exercise? The bottom line is: if you’re going to wear make-up, switch your fullcoverage base for something lighter that’s designed specifically for sweating skin. “Regular exercise is one of the keys to healthy-looking skin. Anything that promotes healthy circulation also helps keep your skin healthy and vibrant. By increasing blood flow, exercise helps nourish skin cells,” explains dermatologist Dr Nomphelo Gantsho. “Plus blood flow also helps carry away waste products, including free radicals, from working cells. Sweating actually helps propel toxins, oil and dirt out of your pores,” says Gantsho. Therefore it’s important to choose products that will allow skin to do this job and not inhibit the removal of toxins. In short – if you wear regular make-up to the gym, you’re effectively preventing your workout from doing all the good stuff it would usually do to your skin, so it’s best to stick to athleisure products designed specifically for this purpose. We get it: sometimes you’re too busy or you forget your cleanser and makeup wipes after a day in the office or you have quite enough to lug around with you as it is and, frankly, you don’t give a hoot. All totally understandable. So, if you have to prioritise, which workouts are more important to sweat out barefaced? “Going make-up free is more important for high-intensity cardio workouts where you sweat heavily,” says naturopath Rhian Stephenson. “Detoxification is such a prominent benefit of cardio that you want to do everything possible to maximise that process. Products that prevent you from getting a full sweat on your face will only impede the release of toxins,” he explains. “If you wear really heavy, full-coverage make-up as you exercise, your skin will heat up, causing your oil and sweat glands to hyper-secrete in an attempt to cool you down,’ explains dermatologist Dr Frances Prenna Jones. “And as high-coverage bases tend to have a high talc content, the secretions and talc will combine to form little plugs in your pores which, as your body cools down, will harden (a bit like melting a lump of butter then bringing it back to room temperature). The little hardened plugs will then trap more secretions, which can stretch pores and become infected, leading to a spotty breakout.” All in all, delightful.
What about longer-lasting effects? Good news: there’s no evidence that heating up the skin and sweating while you’re wearing make-up will age your face. In fact, having a bit of foundation on when you’re exercising outside could even be a positive. “Providing your make-up contains an SPF, always make sure you have it on when you’re working out in the great outdoors – even if you know it’ll make your skin break out,’ says Prenna Jones. “The fact is, the sun damage and related signs of ageing that will occur if you get out there barefaced – even if it’s cloudy – are far harder to reverse than breakouts.” But a face full of spots is hardly ideal, so if you’re going to wear an SPF-enriched base (because you always should, really), how can you prevent them? “Make-up containing silicones will clog pores, resulting in more spots, whereas mineral- based make-up will have less of an impact on skin clarity,” explains Stephenson. “If you’ve chosen to wear make-up while working out, shower as soon as possible afterwards,” says Gantsho. This way, you can swiftly remove all of the bacteria and dirt, which have been released on the skin’s surface, which may lead to problems if left there. “After showering, apply a soothing skin moisturiser or powder to help prevent skin irritation,” says Gantsho. The fact is, wearing make-up to the gym isn’t bad for your skin – provided that you wear specific or lighter formulations. But with so many products out there, how can you tell what works and what doesn’t? These sweat-tested products have been put through their paces and can withstand the sweatiest workout as well as you do. Working out never looked so good.