Let’s admit it, the gym is no longer the place you can turn up to with bed hair, a baggy t-shirt and a pair of shorts and just go about your workout.  Now days the gym is a place not only to sweat it out, but also to show off your latest workout gear and look. God forbid you bump into someone you know looking like you just rolled out of bed and with a makeup-free face.

These days it seems a little lip gloss doesn’t even cut it and wearing makeup when exercising has become the norm. While we know that makeup melting down our face as we start to perspire in a grueling spin class is a pretty good reason not to apply it, what many of us don’t know is how damaging wearing makeup when exercising is to the skin.

Dermatologists world-wide are trying to convince ladies to ditch the vanity and stop wearing makeup to the gym and for good reason.

Wearing makeup when exercising causes clogged pores

When you exercise you naturally sweat which is a really great way for the body to maintain clean, healthy skin.  The surface of our skin is filled with thousands of pores which are small openings, so tiny they are indiscernible to the naked eye.  Even so, they can gather dirt and toxins and are large enough to secrete liquid.

There are two type of pores in the skin’s surface that serve different functions:

  1. Hair follicles (eccrine sweat glands)

Hair follicles can be found all over our body except for the palms of our hands and the soles of the feet.  They house oil glands, otherwise known as sebaceous glands or pilosebaceous units, which are vital in lubricating the skin.

  1. Sweat pores (apocrine sweat glands)

Sweat pores act as the duct for sweat glands and are important in cooling down the body. These are everywhere on the surface of the body but more concentrated in the areas of the armpits, groin and on the hands and feet.

Sweating is a way for you to expel toxins from the body and clean out these pores.  As we sweat, the pores relax slightly and enlarge in the process.  By wearing a thick layer of foundation on your skin’s surface you can clog these pores and block the skin’s ability to breathe. Wearing makeup when exercising is basically creating a barrier where sweat and bacteria can’t be purged and becomes trapped under the skin.  Think a mess of bacteria, dead cells mixed in with makeup! The look you are totally going for, right?

It is when the hair follicles get blocked, conditions such as acne and pilaris keratosis, characterised by rough patches and bumps on the skin, can occur. This is extremely common.  Blocked sweat pores on the other hand, are less common, but when they do become blocked it is usually seen under the armpits.

Even the lightest foundations are made up of small enough formulas that can enter the open pores, causing blockage and leading to irritation, breakouts and the dreaded blackheads.

Can’t fathom going to the gym clean faced?

If you simply can’t comprehend being seen bare faced at the gym, there are some alternatives that won’t damage your skin and will keep you looking fresh.

  • Cleanse your skin before working out to remove any dirt and makeup
  • A waterproof mascara should be fine for your skin, although you are still at risk of it running into your eyes
  • Groom your brows and pull back your hair into a loose ponytail
  • Wear a lip gloss as you don’t have any hair follicles to clog
  • Ditch the cosmetics all together and tint your lashes and brows

If you must wear a foundation to the gym stick to natural formulas that are designed not to clog the skin’s pores.  Powder is better than liquid makeup when exercising and tinted light moisturisers are better than heavy foundations.

The bottom line is wearing makeup while exercising stops your pores from purging sweat and bacteria.  Wear makeup while you are sweating it out at the gym and expect blemishes!