How to Wear Makeup for Working Out In

Wearing makeup to the gym has been a topic of debate for a hot minute now – and whilst it’s a subject that clearly divides people, there’s no right answer about whether you should or shouldn’t wear makeup for your workouts. It’s all about doing what makes you feel your best. 

If you’ve come straight from the office in your everyday makeup, or just prefer a little more coverage while you exercise, we’ve got all the guidance you need to avoid any potential skin upsets and to make sure your makeup isn’t going to just sweat off your face. Explore our gym hairstyle and hair health tips, to show your hair some love too. Whether you’re into running, reformer pilates, or rowing, nail your gym makeup looks with all our tips. Just don’t forget to properly remove your makeup after your workout session.

Is It Okay to Wear Makeup to the Gym?

In an ideal world, skincare experts would advise that it’s best not to wear makeup to the gym as this can lead to skin concerns like enlarged pores and breakouts. However if you feel more comfortable being out in makeup than not, don’t let exercise stop you from wearing it if that’s what makes you happy. 

If you choose the best products and follow a solid skincare routine post-workout, there’s no reason why wearing makeup to the gym needs to be avoided. 

Gym Makeup Tips

The argument for leaving your skin bare at the gym is rooted in the idea that pores remain unclogged and the clean skin can breathe, preventing breakouts that might occur from makeup trapping sweat and bacteria in pores. The increased temperature and sweating caused by exercise opens pores up, which is why they may become blocked by makeup particles, leading to breakouts and uneven skin texture. There’s also the contact between feet, hands, and the floor required for activities like yoga, cycling, and weightlifting, to take into consideration. Bacteria we encounter in the gym are more likely to cling to makeup than clean skin, and as most of us touch our face multiple times every hour – more if we’re exercising – the likelihood of that bacteria settling in pores increases. Reasons like this are why many dermatologists advise against working out wearing makeup. 

However, that’s just not feasible for many of us, for a huge range of reasons. So, to exercise-proof your makeup and ensure your skin stays glowing on and off the treadmill, your best bet is to cherry-pick the products that won’t be too troublesome to your skin.

Avoiding heavy makeup like layers of full coverage foundation will help to reduce post-workout breakouts. It’s also worth taking your cleanser with you to the gym, so you can cleanse immediately after your session to get rid of any sweat and bacteria build-up.

The Best Makeup to Wear for a Workout

TikTok videos tagged with the hashtag #gymmakeup have been viewed millions of times, but the vast variety of the makeup looks in those videos just goes to show how personal workout beauty preferences are. Whilst you’re unlikely to labour over the perfect cat eye to attend a spin class, you definitely can tailor your gym makeup look to your own personal style using the product reccs below….

All good makeup starts with a strong base. Choose a lightweight moisturiser like the Bubble Skincare Level Up Balancing Gel Moisturiser, to achieve glowing, hydrated skin. This revitalising gel formula contains zinc PCA to help improve texture and radiance, and yarrow extract to heal and restore moisture. A lightweight, hydrating, and shine-free finish is ideal for keeping your skin looking and feeling fresh during your workout.

Once you’re hydrated, prime the skin with the By BEAUTY BAY The First Prime Oil Control Priming Mist. Infused with vitamin B6 to help control oil and shine, it’ll ensure your gym makeup stays flawless.

If you know your skin reddens during exercise, consider investing in a colour-correcting product like the Makeup Revolution Superbase Colour Correcting Primer. The green cream has been infused with cica to strengthen and brighten the skin, as well as chlorophyll, for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties – a high priority for gym makeup.

Next, pick a lightweight foundation. Nowhere will test the staying power of foundation quite like a hot yoga studio – and you certainly don’t want to be leaving the class with a streaky face, or a grubby towel. We love the By BEAUTY BAY Glow Filter for its lightweight, priming, and illuminating formula that works to smooth and blur the skin, creating a sheer, glowy finish and a flawless base.

The Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Colour Correcting Treatment can be worn as a light coverage foundation, too. Transforming from green to beige upon application, the formula is enriched with Jartbiome, an original prebiotic ferment ingredient that strengthens the skin, whilst the cream also forms a dust barrier to protect the skin from the kind of environmental aggressors you’re more than likely to come into contact with at the gym.

The SOSU Cosmetics Dripping Gold CC Me in SPF45 Foundation is similarly brilliant when it comes to providing lightweight coverage, with a formula that brightens, hydrates, plumps, and colour corrects – all the stuff your skin will thank you for after 40 minutes on the Stair Master.

If you prefer a full coverage foundation, consider the Estee Lauder iconic Double Wear Stay In Place Foundation. Available in a huge range of shades to suit all skin tones, this liquid foundation buffs and blends into the skin for a water and sweat-proof matte finish that lasts up to 24 hours (minus the creasing, caking, and streaking). The liquid formula is perfect for evening skin tone and covering imperfections, with a buildable but super lightweight feel on the skin which helps to keep excess oil at bay. It’s oil-free, non-comedogenic, and waterproof – the three pillars of great gym makeup.

Don’t let a breakout stop you from your usual workout routine. A concealer like the Glow Hub Under Cover Concealer combines skincare with makeup, delivering long-lasting, full coverage while giving any problem areas a hit of salicylic acid, white willow bark, and tea tree, to help control bacteria and improve the appearance of breakouts and redness.

You can even sculpt your face for a flattering, confidence-boosting effect with the Doll Beauty Gimme Contour, if you feel your best with contour. A blendable formula that glides easily onto the skin to provide an effortless, natural look.

The Pink Honey Bronzing Face Frosting gives skin a gorgeous, sun-kissed glow and adds a warm tone – which is no bad thing if the glaring fluorescent lights of the gym tend to wash you out a little. 

The Coco & Eve Bronzing Face Drops enhance your skin’s natural glow too – but unlike many self-tanners, the formula is non-comedogenic, non-drying, and alcohol- silicone- toxin- and gluten-free, plus it’s enriched with hyaluronic acid. The drops can be mixed with your go-to moisturiser to achieve a gradual, sun-kissed glow overnight, so you can roll out of bed to the gym without a care in the world. 

For highlighter, we love the Ofra x Steph Toms Highlighter. It’s an ultra-blendable, buildable formula that gives the skin a natural glow. A great choice for tired days – brighten your skin for the gym with this gorgeous split-pan, two-tone highlighter. 

Mascara is a must in every makeup routine, but your usual go-to might not be suitable for the gym. You’ll need a formula that stays put, no matter how hot you get. The MAC Cosmetics Mackstack Waterproof Mascara can be relied upon to do just that – a buildable, clump-resistant formula that gives incredible volume. It’s flake-resistant, smudge-proof, and waterproof for 24 hours of wear, so you know you can work up a sweat without worrying.

For the brows, the By BEAUTY BAY Brow Fixer Fibre Gel holds brows in place with a waterproof gel that’s been formulated with tiny microfibres to thicken the brows and give a natural-looking finish, with a long-lasting hold. Enriched with vitamin E and castor oil, the lightweight, non-sticky formula fills in sparse brows and offers a precise application that stays on point, no matter how intense the HIIT session.

Don’t forget the lips. Keep them plump and moisturised with a nourishing balm like the Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Kiss Cupuacu Lip Butter. Enriched with a blend of cupuaçu butter, açaí oil, and coconut oil, it’s guaranteed to keep your lips feeling and looking smooth and soft, before, during, and after your workout.

Finally – to set your gym makeup in place, the By BEAUTY BAY Set It Don’t Regret It Mattifying Setting Mist works to keep your makeup look from melting, fading, and setting into fine lines for flawless, all-day wear. The weightless, breathable formula mattifies the skin and lasts up to 12 hours, so your face won’t fade during five-a-side.

Feeling confident in your skin will make your workout sessions way more enjoyable. So if you want to apply makeup before you step on the treadmill, follow our tips and go right ahead. Curate your gym makeup bag with our top tips in mind, so you can smash your fitness goals and nail your workout makeup look without breaking a sweat. Haul makeup perfect for a workout today!