Working Out With Makeup On? Here’s How It Affects Your Skin

Regular exercise is great for your health, but you might want to skip working out with makeup on.

According to a study from Texas A&M University published in Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, wearing face makeup while engaging in sweat-inducing physical activity can have a serious impact on your skin, affecting everything from oil and sebum production to the size of your pores.

“Participants who wore foundation cream on one side of their face while exercising demonstrated different levels of oil, moisture, and pore size compared to the half of their face without foundation,” Brendan Camp, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at New York City’s MDCS Dermatology who was not affiliated with the study, says of the findings. “The study suggested that wearing heavy foundation during exercise may lead to clogged pores due to sweat and product accumulation.”

All this to say, you might want to skip the glam on leg day—and dermatologists agree. “It’s best to avoid wearing makeup to the gym or while exercising, as the combination of makeup and sweat may clog the pores and contribute to breakouts and irritation,” Marisa Garshick, MD, a New York City board-certified dermatologist who was not affiliated with the study, tells Glamour, explaining that when makeup sits on the skin, it can and often does trap sweat and oil. “This can contribute to clogged pores, worsening breakouts, skin irritation, and redness,” she says.

It’s the same logic behind why we wash our face before bed, says Dr. Camp. “The reason it is recommended to remove makeup before going to bed is because it can combine with oil and dead skin cells to clog pores and promote acne formation,” he says. “The same applies to wearing makeup while exercising.”

However, you don’t have to go completely bare-faced: According to Dr. Camp, makeup like mascara, eyeliner, and lipstick likely present less of an issue during exercise, as they are not applied to the entire face.

However, you shouldn’t leave your skin bare when exercising outdoors, he says. “Remember to protect your skin from the sun,” he says. “Use an SPF 30 minimum, sunglasses, a hat, and don’t forget to apply sunscreen on your ears, neck, and lips.”

Another option? Tinted moisturizer with SPF. “These can provide some cosmetic coverage while also protecting the skin from UV rays,” Dr. Garshick says.

Just be sure to wash your face and body after working out (or producing lots of sweat in general), Dr. Camp concludes. “After exercising, cleanse your skin—face and body—to remove excess oil, sweat, bacteria, and product residue.”

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Danielle Sinay is the associate beauty editor at Glamour. Follow her on Instagram @daniellesinay.

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