Bare With Me: Do You Wear Makeup at the Gym?

Published in: Guest Post, Just For Fun

Do you wear makeup at the gym?

What you’ll most often find in my gym bag — reliable lip balm, a good sunscreen, face wipes and, of course, my lock!

Health is something that often gets lumped in with beauty, and for a while I’d been toying around with the idea of joining a gym. I’ve done a number of home workouts, the most recent being the Beachbody series, and I had some mild success with it, but at this point in my life, I really need to be at the gym. I need to get out of my head, and go back to the gym and enjoy working out for myself.

Today I wanted to talk about the idea of wearing makeup at the gym and ask what you do. I’m personally staunchly against it, mainly because my skin would stage a coup. I have a tendency to break out even when I just rub my face the wrong way (I’m not even kidding!), so rubbing my face when it’s hot, sweaty, and full of makeup is just not an option for me.


But I understand the appeal of wearing makeup to the gym. On a recent visit I didn’t see too many done-up ladies, but I did see someone with fully done eyebrows (I could not even handle that).

One of the things I find so frustrating is that women are often pressured to be 110% on all the time, even when we’re just trying to get in a workout.

I understand the convenience. If you’re working out early in the morning, you can easily put on a little makeup before an easy workout and just head to work afterward.

But many people feel that it’s awful for your skin, and that you shouldn’t wear cosmetics that could clog your pores while you’re working out. Your body can’t cleanse itself of toxins if your pores are clogged by your favorite foundation.

So why do we do it? Insecurities, convenience, because we want to, or because we just don’t think it’s bad for us.

I’m still figuring out what my skin likes and needs from day to day, and I can say that while I’d encourage a girlfriend to go bare at the gym with me, I wouldn’t discourage her from doing her thing if she wants to.

If I were to wear makeup at the gym, I’d have to take the route recommended by the makeup artist in this article. I’d go with some SPF (like the one I’m carrying in my gym bag), maybe a brow pencil, and some tinted lip balm, at the most.

What about you? Have you ever worn a full face to your favorite class, or do you always go bare? Are there any situations when you absolutely won’t wear any makeup at all? Let me know!

Marcella Yakalis

Marcella Yakalis is a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn, New York, with two cats, one snake, and one very patient boyfriend. She writes about family, relationships, and oppressive retail culture. She can also be found on Twitter and Instagram.


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  1. Lulle says:

    I don’t go to the gym, but I run and go to a yoga studio, and I always remove my makeup before. I couldn’t do otherwise: my face sweats a lot, so I’d have foundation and whatnot dripping off my face if I didn’t (I’ve had a moisturizer with mineral SPF drip off my face in huge white drops before, ew…). The only thing I suppose I could wear is waterproof eye makeup, but I don’t see the point.
    I’d also be worried about breakouts caused by the mixture of sweat and foundation. And how do you wipe your face with a towel if you have foundation on?
    The toxin thing is an urban legend, our body doesn’t filter toxins through the pores of our skin, that’s the job of the liver and we just sweat water and mineral salts. But anything that’s filling pores, like those awesome silicone smoothing primers, could potentially cause clogging, blackheads and zits.
    Lulle recently posted … Grab it while you can: Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Catfight!

  2. I don’t go to the gym but if I did I’d probably wear (some) make-up. I just don’t feel confident without it. No, scratch that, I just don’t feel like MYSELF without it.
    Kiss & Make-up recently posted … EOTD | Revealed

  3. Lily says:

    I workout at the gym 4 times a week and I run 3 times a week. At the gym, I lift and I sweat. Makeup will not look pretty. I always remove all makeup before I hit the gym or I’d feel gross. Due to that personal sentiment, I fail to understand why women need to wear full faced makeup to the gym. Brows, mascara, tinted lip balm seem alright but I saw this lady come in with smoky eyes and leave with raccoon eyes. Not sexy.
    Lily recently posted … Dior Milky Dots Summer 2016. Swatches.

  4. It depends on the time I workout. I used to go straight from work and would only remove my foundation (or the leftovers) before that, if I´d go in the mornings I would go completely without any makeup. Both is fine for me, but I need to cleanse my face afterwards, otherwise I´d break out.
    LindaLibraLoca recently posted … Exfoliation – Why, when and with what

  5. Kwmechelle says:

    When I’d go at 6:30 in the morning, I didn’t wear anything. But in the afternoon, I’d wear concealer, brows, mascara, & maybe bronzer. This is my no makeup, makeup look & it makes me feel confident. I have pretty clear skin but I wear concealer to cover darkness under my eyes. It’s prolly not as bad as it appears to me but wearing the concealer works for me. I perspire when I workout or do yoga but not to the point where my face is dripping & I always shower afterwards. I’ve worn lipstick in the past bc I’m defiant like that and think why the hell not? But as I general rule, I keep things pretty simple or go barefaced. Great post 🙂

  6. Kiran says:

    I don’t go to the gym but I would approach it the same way I approach airplanes with a bare face, a lot of face cream, some SPF and that’s it. I just think your makeup would look a mess anyway by the end of your workout, you’d feel gross and want to wash your face as soon as you had finished the workout so why bother with the hassle of putting on makeup. Skip it, if you it doesn’t bother you.

    ALittleKiran | Bloglovin

  7. Efrain says:

    I know that as a man I don’t get that pressure to be pretty all day so I can’t completely understand the point.

    However when working out now, if I have a full face on, I’ll at least use some micellar water to remove the most of it and after that I’ll do a complete cleanse.

    The most makeup I’ve wear to a gym was BB cream and my face towel ended up brown. So for me unless I can’t really take off my makeup I always train barefaced.

  8. MISSVEE says:

    I never wear foundation/concealer or eyeshadow, but I really want a touch of colour so that people don’t come up and ask, “are you all right?” XD It happens a lot!! I’ve always worked out at night, so I’m already tired after long hours in the office, and I guess I look a bit miserable, LOL.
    So I usually line my waterline with a longlasting pencil in a bright colour (periwinkle, emerald green…), and add mascara, cream/liquid blush in a bright coral shade and a longwear lip marker in a nice pink. This way, I barely get any product on my skin, but I still look alive even when I’m most tired. The mascara doesn’t melt away because I never sweat a lot on my face, and nowhere near my eyes.

  9. Becky says:

    I totally can’t do makeup at the gym. I wake up a spotty mess the next day! My pores go on a crusade! I find that I go so unbelieveably, unflatteringly red that people think I’m about to expire, so I tend to avoid peak times at the gym if possible!

  10. Erin says:

    I get so red at the gym because of rosacea there is no covering it up. The most I’ll wear to the gym is a slick of tinted balm or a lip stain. Skin needs to breathe!
    Erin recently posted … Juliette Has A Gun Romantina

  11. yelena says:

    it depends, when I go to the gym after work, I just leave my makeup on, but I am cautious not to do too much the morning of.

    on the weekends, when I wake up and go to the gym, absolutely no make up (ok only brows), and it is much better and laid back not only for your skin so it can breathe, but also so you don’t have to worry about mascara or foundation running down your face and unto your towel/top/etc.

    going to the gym should be whatever you want it to be and how you feel better 😉

    I will say, I don’t get people that put on make up purposely before gym….

  12. Sakura says:

    I wear minimal makeup to the gym. I feel it’s a personal choice. I wouldn’t wear any if I were going to hot yoga. In terms of breakouts- As long as it’s non-comedogenic it’s OK (aka. no allergens, heavy oils ect.) I was told by my dermatologist that the most important thing to do is wash your face as soon as possible after working out because sweat is a great place for bacteria to grow. She also told me that skin doesn’t breathe the top layer is dead. That is a common misconception.

  13. Lauren Barwick says:

    I attend Zumba classes 5 times a week. For the classes after work I go with a full face of makeup as it is what I have on from work… even false lashes! Honestly I enjoy it! I am not insecure without makeup but looking glam while shimmying in front of the mirror is a lot of fun! Even though I sweat A LOT during class my makeup normally doesn’t budge.

    For my morning Zumba classes I normally do my brows, pop on some lashes, and that is it.

    If I was doing something besides Zumba I probably wouldn’t wear makeup. Its just the power of a good Shakira song and a hip twist that makes me feel glam and want to look that way too!

  14. susan says:

    If I go to the gym before work I don’t wear any makeup. NO ONE there at 5:30 am cares 🙂 If I go after, I don’t remove what I am wearing, but I will wash my face after. I always wear sunscreen outside, but will wear some makeup if I’m running a race – under eye concealer, a little tightliner, mascara, a tiny bit of blush, and always a good thick lip balm. I will say I was a little embarrassed once when I ran into a 5:30 am gym acquaintance in the food store and she was shocked at the difference in my appearance. “You look so pretty!!!” were her exact words, which obviously were meant as a compliment but served to make me feel a little more self conscious.

  15. Tatiana says:

    My daughter’s friend joined a sorority and she said one of the rules was that the girls had to wear makeup while working out, otherwise it reflected poorly on the girls in the house. Go figure.
    Personally, I could never wear makeup while working out, it would just run into my eyes and all down my face. When I go the gym, I really work hard. Yesterday I glanced at myself in the mirror near the end of my workout and my hair and face were dripping sweat. My face was very hot and red and I was pretty soaked in sweat all over. I am definitely not pretty when I go to the gym.

  16. Estefania says:

    I used to go to the gym and when I did I never wore makeup, I think no one should haha , everyone at the gym looks sweaty so I think no one is judging the other people looks , I guess wearing lipstick it’s fine.
    Estefania recently posted … Cetaphil DermaControl: Oil Control Foam Wash

  17. Domi says:

    I sweat and use a towel so in case I am wearing makeup, I will remove it before I work out. If I am working out outdoors I will were a high SPF and it will make me sweat more, the same happens if I wear tinted moisturiser or a similar product. My skin demands to be bare when I work out or I will sweat (in my face!) like a maniac!
    Most women at the gym that I see nowdays are not wearing makeup but in a gym I used to visit, I was amazed by the number of women with a full face on. I mean countering, winged eyeliner, all of it! But I noticed that they never broke into a sweat, either they were the kind of people who can go to a spinning class and still be dry afterwards or they never exerted themselves, I believe it was a combination.
    The gym is my free space so I feel I would violate the freeness of it, if I started to wear makeup there. Apart from it being insanely unpractical in my case. I am not sure if I made myself clear, I mean I go to the gym to feel not too see.

  18. Evelyn says:

    I don’t wear makeup aside from a balm because it’s a nuisance and a waste of good makeup since I sweat everything off. I did notice that one woman had on a full face of foundation. Why? Well, the sweat had made tracks down her face in the foundation. Not a good effect.

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