Here’s why makeup-free skin during your workout is the best idea… 

Thinking about NOT wearing makeup when working out might make you scrunch your nose or furrow your brow a bit. 

What?! Not wear makeup during my workout? But what about that Instagram post you must post looking your best?!


I do well enough to make it to the gym straight from work. You want me to take the time to remove my makeup and prep my skin, too?!

But for those that think they must wear makeup while working out might think again and join #teamnomakeup after reading the following. You just might decide that removing makeup before your workout (every time) falls in line with other skin care musts, like putting sunscreen on daily and removing your makeup before bed (we hope you do!).  

Get the scoop from Houston Medical Aesthetician Krys Givens on what can happen to your skin if you choose to wear makeup while working out and some tips to ensure you keep your skin in top shape pre and post your regular exercise routines. 

The bad news first: According to Givens, wearing makeup for your next workout routine isn’t a great idea. When working out, your sweat output increases to help keep your body temperature in check. Face makeup can clog your pores when you sweat, and it gets worse when you use your hand or towel to wipe away the sweat falling down your face. The friction of wiping your face in combination with sweat pushes any accumulated dirt and makeup you have on deeper into your skin’s pores. Ick!! Makeup-free skin is best!

Why is makeup free skin best while working out?

Some of the not-so-pleasant side effects of wearing makeup during your workout include:

  • Congestion 
  • Breakouts
  • Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)
  • Dull skin
  • Uneven skin tone
  • Skin infections

When we exercise, we sweat, and our body temperature increases, which can cause an opening of pores. If we’re wearing makeup, the pores can then become blocked by the makeup we’re wearing. If you consider that we touch our faces 3.6 times per hour on average and more if we’re sweating, it can lead to significant skin issues.

Medical Aesthetician Givens shares, “Wearing full face makeup during your workouts can not only compact and clog pores, but it may also decrease your body’s ability to sweat effectively and increase the likelihood for congestion, breakouts, Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH), and dull skin,” Givens continues, “Makeup, combined with sebum, pollutants, and debris collected throughout the day, mixed with sweat and bacteria picked up from shared mats, machines, weights, and handles, create a recipe for a potential skin disaster.”

make-up free skin DermaTouch RN blog

Pre-workout skincare tips

If you’re about to hit the gym, give your skin some love to ensure it remains healthy and glowing beyond your post-workout glow. 

Givens suggests cleansing the skin before working out. “Since it’s highly recommended that you cleanse your skin post workout to remove sweat and bacteria, or at least prior to going to bed, you can gently remove makeup before working out, and then perform a proper cleanse and your full skincare routine later.” 

Givens provides the following pre-workout skincare steps:

  • Use a makeup wipe, micellar cleansing water, gentle cleanser, or MakeUp Eraser cleansing cloth to remove makeup, pollutants, and debris. 
  • Follow your pre-workout cleanse with a light moisturizer to replenish following your cleansing. Lightweight formulas are best for your workout since they absorb quickly. Ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and niacinamide are good options. 
  • If you’ll be in the sun during your workout, apply an SPF of at least 30 or higher that protects against UVA/UVB rays. Be sure to apply the SPF to all exposed areas of your skin–not just your face. 
  • For those who are more comfortable donning a splash of color, you may opt for a tinted SPF with a non-comedogenic formulation that will give you just a hint of color while also protecting your skin. Consider a mineral-based formula, such as SkinMedica’s Essential Defense Mineral Shield or MyChelle Dermaceuticals Sun Shield Liquid SPF.

Taking care of your skin following your workout

Taking care of your skin before and after exercise is equally important. Now you’ve got your pre-workout and during-workout considerations down, how can you best take care of your skin following your workout?

If working out in the evening, before going to bed, Givens suggests you::

  • Cleanse away sweat and bacteria. “Workout days are a great time to include an exfoliating cleanser, such as SkinMedica’s AHA/BHA Cleanser.
  • Apply serums and corrective products, like SkinMedica’s TNS Advanced Plus Serum.
  • Hydrate with HA5, or another hyaluronic acid product, if appropriate for your skin regimen.
  • Moisturize with a night cream suitable for your skin type.
  • Moisturize and hydrate lips.
  • Apply an eye cream to treat the delicate areas of the eyes. 

If working out before work or during the day:

  • Cleanse away sweat and bacteria. “Use a cleanser that is appropriate for your skin type and needs. Elta MD’s Foaming Facial Cleanser is one we offer at DermaTouch RN that I like to recommend.”
  • Apply serums and corrective products appropriate for daytime use. In other words, no retinol or products that can make your skin sensitive to the sun. 
  • If it is appropriate for your skin regimen, hydrate with SkinMedica’s HA5, or your favorite hyaluronic acid product.
  • Moisturize with a day cream suitable for your skin type.
  • Use a protective eye cream.
  • Apply an SPF of at least 30 or higher that protects against UVA/UVB rays. As previously mentioned, apply the SPF to all exposed areas of your skin–not just your face.
  • Apply makeup as usual.

If you forget to wipe away the makeup… 

Don’t fret (after all, stress isn’t good for the skin, either!). The occasional working out with makeup because you forgot to cleanse your skin or simply didn’t have time to if you wanted to make it to your favorite cycling or hot yoga class on time isn’t the end of the world. Though, as soon as you finish working out, you want to make sure to take care of your skin by cleansing it as soon as possible–you want to remove makeup and bacteria to prevent skin issues before they have a chance to creep up. 

Givens states, “Be sure to cleanse your skin as you would pre-workout. From there, wipe away any residue by using a toner or witch hazel with a cotton round.” 

Once you’ve wiped away any residue, follow the post-workout steps in the previous section based on the time of day.

If you MUST wear some type of foundation, go with…

If you can’t bear the thought of going with zero makeup at the gym, Givens recommends using a non-comedogenic clean beauty foundation, BB cream, or CC cream. 

“Or better yet, I recommend considering a mineral-based double-duty tinted SPF in place of any of the above. Finish your look with a smudge-proof mascara, and go conquer that workout!”

Is there any makeup that’s ok to wear to the gym?

As Givens points out, it’s ok to wear a smudge-proof mascara to the gym, though all face makeup, like foundation, powder, blush, and bronzer, should be avoided. 

Are there long-term effects of wearing makeup when you work out?

If you’re working out inside, there’s no objective evidence that wearing makeup during your workouts can lead to premature aging. However, the short-term skin conditions it can cause are no picnic, and many prefer to avoid them. 

When working out in sun-exposed areas or outside, if you don’t wear the proper SPF, sun damage could lead to premature aging of the skin, as well as cancer. 

A few final words on makeup free skin when working out…

Givens’s final words of wisdom: “Finally, don’t forget to hydrate with plenty of water, or coconut water (nature’s electrolytes!), post-workout. Remember, we hydrate and nourish our skin from the inside out!”

Krys Givens, Medical Aesthetician

Krys Givens is a Houston-based Medical Aesthetician with a long-standing passion for the beauty and wellness industry. As a lifelong learner who remains current on the best skin care products and treatments for her clients, she is driven by the desire to support patients in achieving their most confident and best self through proven aesthetic and cosmetic applications. Learn more about Krys and the team of professionals she works with.

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DermaTouch RN offers minimally invasive and non-invasive treatments for men and women in Houston, San Antonio, Spring and Cypress, as well as the surrounding areas of Texas. We are the largest aesthetic practice in the Houston area, and all of our medical spa treatments are performed by a team of nurse practitioners, registered nurses, and aestheticians who receive continuing education to remain abreast of emerging treatments that benefit our patients. We invite you to learn more about our office before your consultation.