Is It Really That Bad to Work Out In Makeup?

Be honest: When you hit the gym, do you work out with foundation, concealer, or even a *little bit* of CC cream on your face? NBD, right? Think again. We asked experts to weigh in on what happens to your skin when you continuously exercise with makeup on. Hint: It’s not pretty.

Yes, it’s that bad to work out with makeup on. Here’s why.

“Makeup covers the surface of your skin as well as pores. While you’re working out, you’re producing sweat and oil that further congests pores and leads to bacteria overgrowth,” explains Yunyoung Claire Chang, MD, a dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City. The result: the perfect breading ground for breakouts.


“If you work out at the end of the day, it’s no longer just makeup on your face,” says Sejal Shah, MD, a dermatologist at Smarter Skin Dermatology in New York City. “You also have micro-particles and environmental pollutants that are sticking to the layer of makeup on your skin.” All of this combined can equal clogged pores, overall dullness, and acne flare-ups.

Exactly how to cleanse your skin pre-workout

Because it’s not as simple as using whatever face wash they have in the locker room, here are a few things to keep in mind.

🚫 Avoid gel cleansers, which tend to contain more harsh detergents (such as sodium lauryl sulfate) and skip exfoliating ingredients like salicylic acid, even if you have acne-prone skin.

Use a gentle creamy formula that won’t strip natural oils and leave your skin super dry. We like Olay Total Effects Revitalizing Foaming Cleanser because it contains glycerin and is able to completely remove makeup easily and gently.

💦 If you prefer an on-the-go option, throw some makeup removing cloths that replenish while cleansing into your gym bag.

We like Olay Daily Facials 5-in-1 Cleansing Cloths, which contain hydrating glycerin. The super soft dry cloths easily lather when you add water and don’t leave behind any pore-clogging residue (which pre-moistened kinds sometimes do).

A model using a cleansing cloth

☀️ Heading outside to work out? Be sure to put on some SPF post-cleanse. To avoid clogged pores, look for a super light texture that easily absorbs into skin and has a barely-there feel, such as Olay Sun Facial Sunscreen + Antioxidants Broad Spectrum SPF 35 Lotion Shine Control.

PRO TIP: If you wear a lot of makeup or have sensitive skin, you may need to double cleanse. “Start with a gentle cleanser to remove makeup, then follow it with a water cleanser to wipe away residual makeup or impurities,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, a dermatologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

BTW, washing your face after you work out is equally important. Here’s why.

First, you want to get rid of all the sweat and oil that’s now on your skin. Second, gyms and workout studios are not the cleanest places on the planet—and the equipment that you’re coming in contact with every time you pick up a weight or up your treadmill speed is covered in bacteria.

Since the average person touches their face around 2,000 times per day, these microbes are one hundred percent on your skin.

And take note: If you left your makeup on and worked out, all that stuff has something to stick to. (Yes, it’s gross.)

via Is It Really That Bad to Work Out In Makeup?