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Why you should never wear makeup while working out

Add makeup wipes to your gym bag must-haves.

Why you should never wear makeup while working out Credit: Getty Images / whyframestudio

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To maximize your time, you may head straight from work into a run or to your yoga mat to get your workout done before dinner. You swap your slacks for leggings, slip your hair into a ponytail on top of your head, and get your sweat on. But what you may not think to do is wash off any makeup still on your face prior to your spin session or weight lifting routine. As it turns out, this step is crucial to keeping your skin healthy and breakout-free. To find out why keeping a makeup wipe in your gym bag is the best thing you can do for your skin, we spoke with Dr. Suzanne Friedler, a board-certified dermatologist with Advanced Dermatology PC in New York City.

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How working out with makeup on impacts your skin

A cotton pad with makeup on it.
Credit: Getty Images / hanamirae

Your pores will absorb some of the makeup on your skin when you workout.

You may think the only consequence to not removing your makeup pre-workout is ruining your foundation and causing your mascara to run, but there are ramifications for your skin’s health, too. “Let’s say you’re working out at the end of the day, your face has accumulated an entire days worth of oil production and sweat and then, when you go to workout, your pores are dilating and all of that dirt, oil, and makeup are going to penetrate more into the skin and lead to more irritation and possible breakouts,” Friedler says. “Makeup contains all different particles, possible sunscreens, and ingredients that you really don’t want penetrating the skin.”

For a great makeup remover that’s suitable for all skin types, try a cleansing oil, as it not only breaks down makeup but also binds to the excess oil on the skin and removes it. The DHC Deep Cleansing Oil has over 6,000 Amazon reviews and a 4.6-star rating for its fragrance-free, moisturizing formula.

Ideally, you should then wash your face with a water-based cleanser for a more thorough washing. “Regardless of whether you’re wearing makeup or not, I usually recommend cleansing your skin with a gentle cleanser before working out.”

As long as it’s gentle on your skin, meaning it doesn’t cause dryness or irritation, you can use any cleanser. If you’re in the market for a new one, a fan-favorite option for all skin types is the Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, which has over 14,000 Amazon reviews and a 4.6-star rating. It’s hypoallergenic and fragrance-free, which makes it an ideal option for sensitive skin, and it claims to hydrate and soften the skin as it cleans it.

What to do if you don’t remove your makeup before a workout

A woman removing her makeup.
Credit: Getty Images / domoyega

Keep makeup remover in your gym bag.

If you’re in a pinch and you work out with your makeup on, Friedler says to make sure you wash really well afterward with a good cleanser. To prevent this from happening, though, keep products on you for when you’re running straight to a workout from a place where you normally wear makeup. “If you’re on the go, there are lots of great makeup cleansing pads that you can throw into your bag or acne wipes that you can throw into your bag that are great for if you’re going to the gym straight from work,” she says.

For an on-the-go makeup remover, try the Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Face Wipes. These have over 35,000 Amazon reviews and 4.8-star rating, and they claim to remove even waterproof makeup while cleansing the skin of dirt and oil.

Get the Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Face Wipes on Amazon for $8.97

How to care for your skin after a workout

A woman washing her face with water.
Credit: Getty Images / skynesher

Rinse your skin after a workout to remove sweat and oil.

The main reason to wash your face before your workout is to get any irritants sitting on the skin off of it before you open up your pores by heating up the body. After your workout, though, there should only be sweat and maybe some excess oil if you already took your makeup off and cleansed. To rinse those away, splash cold water on your face as soon as you can after a workout. “That’s going to help tighten up your pores and calm down the heat from your workout,” Friedler says. You can also wash again with your gentle cleanser, if you’d prefer that, but it’s not necessary.

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