How Bad Is It to Wear Makeup at the Gym?

Updated: Nov. 08, 2016

Wipe off that mascara! According to experts, wearing makeup at the gym can be harmful to your skin today โ€” and in the long run.


At one point or another, every woman has been guilty of wearing makeup to the gym. Perhaps you rushed to a spin class immediately after work with your face still done up in everyday makeup. Maybe you knew you’d be running errands after yoga, so you threw on a bit of tinted moisturizer and mascara, and hoped you wouldn’t sweat it off by the end of the class. Or maybe you just feel more confident looking good while working out, so you always make sure to have your hair and makeup touched up before heading to the gym. Regardless of why and how it happens, many women can recall a time they’ve exercised with makeup on.

But just how bad is it to wear gym makeup? Are the effects really worth worrying about? We spoke to Samer Jaber, MD, of Washington Square Dermatology in New York City, to find out.

Based on his experience and education, Dr. Jaber asserts that, “everyone should try to remove their makeup prior to working out, but especially those with acne-prone skin.”

By taking just two minutes to remove your makeup at the gym, your skin will have a much easier time breathing and perspiring, and you won’t have to worry about rubbing foundation into your pores when you wipe the beads of sweat from your forehead.

“Sweating is your body’s natural method of cooling your skin, and wearing makeup can trap sweat and bacteria, blocking your pores. This can result in skin congestion, which can cause blackheads, skin irritation, and increased breakouts,” says Dr. Jaber. “Overtime, if you repeatedly wear heavy gym makeup you may notice that you develop worsening acne and uneven skin tone on your face.”

On top of getting increased breakouts, whiteheads, blackheads, and long-term acne, working out with makeup is believed to be a contributing factor to aging. Wearing makeup while exercising inflames the skin, and chronic inflammation is the root cause of skin aging. (You’ll also want to avoid these other makeup mistakes that age you.)

Fortunately, makeup removal can be quick and painless thanks to moisturizing cleansing wipes, which allow you to clear away the products on your skin and then simply discard the disposable towelette afterwards.

Dermatologists and medical research confirm that wearing makeup to the gym can be harmful in the long term. When considering the damage it causes your skin, it makes sense to take the time to cleanse your face prior to working out. However, if you absolutely must wear makeup for the gym, just “make sure it is a light makeup like a powder or BB cream and wash it off as soon as your workout is over,” says Dr. Jaber.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest