I have joined a gym. A rather intense gym, with a programme that requires a workout every other day as a minimum. As a stoic yoga-on-Saturdays/dog-walking-is-clearly-enough-exercise person, I thought the sore muscles and finding the time to exercise often would be my main concerns, but no. My worries are even more prosaic than that: I struggle with whether or not to wear make-up when I workout. Here’s what runs through my head before every session:
1. My gym is snazzy. People in there look good. They wear Sweaty Betty and Lululemon. They seem not to sweat, or at least do it in an artful way. Getting my spots out there would probably not be ideal. Also, I workout on my way to work, and I can’t possibly turn up barefaced and do my make-up at my desk. I am not one of those people.
2. Conversely, putting stuff on skin and then sweating through it will both make my skin and my make-up worse post. So, eyeliner and no foundation may be the order of the day…
3. … But I unfailingly smudge my eyeliner when I ball my face up as I push weights. And then I have to drag at my skin with something awful like a make-up wipe to correct movement and surely that does more damage than good to my skin and isn’t worth the negative skin points?
4. Waterproof mascara and eyeliner would be good. But wearing them daily dries out my eyes and I have to put in so much effort to remove them.
5… So, no make-up, then. Maybe just a subtle bit of brow gel and a quick curl of my lashes.
6. *Looking in mirror* No, full face. Full face and sweat through. It’ll be fine. I’ll do a face mask later.
After this drawn out process, I’ve unsurprisingly ended up just going to the gym wearing make-up, despite knowing my skin will undoubtably be more riddled with spots as a result, and that my make-up once sweated onto my skin looks a bit shoddy. Personally, the faff of bringing all my make-up to work and the horror of going to a fancy gym and then onto work make-up free have made the decision for me.
There is a silver lining to this cloud - I’ve unearthed some really good make-up options if you, like me, insist on wearing make-up as you exercise - though as a beauty editor I’m obliged to tell you that the truth of the matter is that make-up free is the best way to go when working out, and that your skin really won’t thank you for wearing it. In no particular order, my hero make-up - and skincare that's generally brilliant for sweaty situations - finds are:
If you just can’t bear to go without base, please make it this one. It’s aloe rather than water based, and will therefore help to keep skin calm and reduce the proliferation of bacteria.
Do not make my mistake of trying to apply powder on sweaty skin. Instead, take this cooling fluid and press it onto shiny points of your face. It’ll take down redness and shine in one go.
Fibres suspended in waterproof formula make this the perfect mascara if you’re going to get your sweat on. I’ve noticed that if I wiggle this right into the roots of my lashes, it defines eyes so you can probably skip the eyeliner.
If you’ve ever smudged your lipstick across your face mid-work out without noticing - see Suzannah’s account below - you’ll know that it’s a bit embarrassing. This matte number won’t feather, slide, or smear, so you can wear it with impunity.
This genius brow gel renders whatever goes underneath it waterproof. So just pop your usual brow powder/pen/pencil on, swipe across them with these, and go and sweat it out in the knowledge that your brows ain’t going anywhere.
Things will invariably be smeared, and if you’re going to wipe with something, better make it one of these gentle, aloe-infused wipes, which are far superior in terms of skin-kindness than their wipe peers.
If you end up with painfully sore muscles after you've worked out but find lots of muscle gels a little whiffy, get this - it's warming and softens knots without making eyes water.
Containing hyaluronic acid, soothing black oats and aloe, and antioxidant zinc, this lightweight gel is a brilliant pick if you shower at the gym and want to dress directly after moisturising without any stickiness.
This gel takes restoring painful muscles to the next level, thanks to the magnesium that'll help to ease aches, while the arnica and witch hazel are anti-inflammatory and will reduce pain speedily.
To add some balance to my clearly borderline insane feelings on wearing make-up while working out, I asked my colleagues what they did, so that you can have some real advice from them.
Hannah Lewis, Stylist: “I don’t ever wear make-up to the gym as I just feel really grubby in it, so I always keep a make-up wipe in my gym bag so that I can remove any before I go.”
Suzannah Ramsdale, Digital Editor: “If I go straight from work, I just keep on whatever I’m wearing, sweat it all off and then shower when I get home. The one thing I always remove before working out, though, is lipstick: I once smeared mine across my face mid-work out and only noticed when I got home!”
Louise Whitbread, Digital Fashion & Beauty Intern: “I’d rather do a good work out than have to worry about my make-up the whole time, but I don’t feel 100% confident in the gym so if I happened to meet someone, I’d feel a little embarrassed.”