Of all the places that can both boost and wreck our self-confidence, sometimes during the same 45-minute workout, the gym is right up there. But if you’re one of many women who make themselves feel better by applying a fully made-up face, your skin may suffer in the long run.
The desire to look attractive while moving in ways that don’t always feel appealing is understandable. Unfortunately, if you’re going hard on the treadmill with foundation, concealer and highlighter coating your skin, you aren’t doing your pores any favors — nor are you helping your body rid itself of waste.
“Because your circulation is increased during sweating, many of the toxins and impurities are able to exit your body by way of your open pores,” explained dermatologist and absolute skin genius Dr. Murad. “Think of it as cleansing your skin from the inside. This is why many spas will use steam during facials to prepare the skin for deep cleaning. However, if makeup is sitting on your skin, it makes it difficult for the toxins to release from your pores. This can lead to poral occlusions, which is when your sweat glands get clogged from a combination of oil, sweat and makeup mixed together; this causes red bumps that look like acne.”
While pores don’t actually open and close — despite what we were told as teenagers — Murad says they do tighten and relax. When we’re sweating up a storm, it’s a bit of a vacation for our pores, which relax and are then more susceptible to becoming clogged.
“Makeup can clog the pores by blocking the follicle which causes oils, dirt and bacteria to accumulate inside the pore causing congestion and can lead to blackheads,” Murad said. “Pores need to breathe in order to release the necessary toxins to achieve clear skin, and makeup inhibits that from happening.”
Before hitting the gym, Murad recommends washing your face with a gentle cleanser or using cleansing wipes to rid your skin of whatever makeup you’re already wearing (by the way, Murad Clarifying Wipes are amazing. And I’m not just saying that because I’m starstruck). A good toner is also fine to use.
Before you say it, I know. You want to look pretty. And, no matter what you’ve been told, you are going to wear some form of makeup to the gym.
Nikki Benfatto, a Master Trainer and former fitness competitor with the World Natural Body Building Association, says she feels brainwashed from years of being told by gym directors to look like she stepped out of a salon. As a result, she knows which products to embrace, and which to stay far away from (sorry, guys, foundation is still a no-no). Murad would be proud: Benfatto’s priority is skin care first.
“I am currently obsessed with ECLOS plant stem cell skin care system, derived from APPLE stem cells,” Benfatto said. “After I apply the fill ECLOS system, I cover my dark circles with CoverGirl + Olay The Depuffer. I do apply light mascara if I’m not teaching cardio, and to be honest, some nights I feel like a warrior and goth out my eyes with a smoky charcoal pencil, but nothing more. On my lips, I love Burt’s Bees Lip Gloss in a natural shade.”
Considering the natural glow you’ll get from your workout, take a tip from the experts and stick with light lip colors and — depending on whether you’re feeling like a warrior that day — a killer eye pencil doesn’t hurt.