The Do’s and Dont’s of Wearing Makeup to the Gym

Kelly Dougher
gym makeup

Photo: MjDigitalArt / Getty


We all know that it’s not generally a good idea to put on a full face of makeup for the gym, thanks to the threat of breakouts and smeared mascara. Still, some days you just don’t want to go out into the world bare-faced. Don’t use that as an excuse to skip your workout and stay home, though. Wearing makeup to the gym is totally doable—if you do it right. Here are our ultimate do’s and don’ts for wearing makeup to the gym.

DON’T: Overdo it with lots of products.

The more products you put on your face, the more touch-ups you have to deal with when you inevitably get sweaty and smudgy. Not to mention the potential for epic breakouts triggered by the unholy mix of sweat and cosmetics. Celebrity makeup artist Rosie Johnson says, “You should never really wear ANY makeup to the gym. Your skin is expelling and sweating out all the toxins and you don’t want to clog those pores.”

DO: Keep it light and minimal.

That said, if you absolutely cannot bear the thought of going bare-faced, just keep things extremely basic. Kate O’Brien, founder of all-natural mineral makeup line Alima Pure, suggests using a loose powder “because it looks natural and is quick.” Just be sure to use a light hand.

Johnson also says that “a brow gel is great for keeping your brows groomed and nicely shaped.” Even if the rest of your makeup is minimal, filled-in brows will frame your face and keep you looking put-together.

DON’T: Wear anything too greasy.

“Never use anything too hydrating or greasy. You’ll feel like an oil slick after your workout,” O’Brien says. This means no oil-based products, nothing that promises a dewy look, and nothing that simply feels too thick or heavy.

DO: Use products that help with shine.

Johnson says, “One of the best secrets to looking dewy (not sweaty) after any gym session is blotting sheets.” You don’t have to spend a lot of money on these either; try e.l.f. Essential Shine Eraser ($3) or Palladio Oil Absorbing Rice Paper ($4).

DON’T: Wear foundation.

Foundation can be great in some cases, but for the gym it’s simply too heavy. You will be hard-pressed to find a foundation that doesn’t get sweated off during a workout and end up clogging pores. As Johnson says, ” Very light and breathable makeup is going to your best option for the gym. I would skip foundation altogether.”

DO: Spot-correct.

Instead of covering your entire face with foundation, use a matte finish concealer with a somewhat tacky, thick consistency to spot-correct areas as needed (such as scars, under-eye circles, and hyper-pigmentation or acne). A concealer that is too runny or promises a dewy, luminous glow won’t hold up well at the gym. We love Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer ($32), as it comes in a wide range of shades, covers even the most stubborn spots and is even waterproof.

DON’T: Wear lots of color.

O’Brien warns, “Never wear anything bright or dark that may smear if you touch your face or sweat. Lipsticks, a smoky eye look, and bright blush probably wouldn’t be a great idea.”

DO: Try a tinted lip balm.

If you absolutely can’t go without a hint of color on your lips, try a tinted lip balm. O’Brien recommends Alima Pure Lip Tints ($14), which “moisturize the lips and give a gorgeous splash of color, too.” Petal is the perfect shade for the gym, as it provides that craveable ‘your lips but better’ look.

DON’T: Wear a lot of eye makeup.

This is not the time to create an elaborate smokey eye. The last thing you want during a workout is to reach up to wipe the sweat out of your eyes and end up smearing black eye shadow all over your face.

DO: Choose waterproof mascara.

Of course, it can be hard to give up your beloved mascara. That’s fine, but Johnson recommends that you choose waterproof mascara. Everyone’s mascara preferences differ and you’ll probably have to spend some time doing trial and error before you find one that’s gym-worthy, but we’ve had great success with Covergirl Lash Blast Volume Waterproof Mascara ($9).

More from Daily Makeover: 4 Super-Fast Workouts Everyone Has Time For.