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.

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