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These are the beauty products you should NEVER wear to the gym (and what you should wear)

Worried about breaking out while you're working out?

Fiona Ward
Acting Fashion and Beauty Editor
March 16, 2018
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Do you wear makeup to the gym? Take a quick look around the women's weights area and you may just notice you're not alone - whether it's a few dots of concealer or a full face, plenty of us are guilty of a little pre-workout pampering. But is it really that bad for our skin? Most complexion experts will tell you the only way to arrive at the gym is fresh-faced, but with a bounty of new exercise-friendly products and brands arriving on the beauty scene, is gym makeup ever okay? We chatted to facialist Kate Kerr, who practices at the Mondrian London spa, to find out how your gym beauty routine should differ from your everyday one…

products to use at gym

Working out with makeup on can cause breakouts

Sweat isn't the enemy

Contrary to popular opinion, it's not sweat that causes congestion in the skin, according to Kate - it's actually good for you! "Sweat isn’t really the enemy when it comes to breakouts. In fact, during exercise, provided skin is left free from product, it helps to flush out the pores and improve skin clarity," she says. "The negative impact comes from our oil glands going into overdrive and the heat we experience during exertion, which can lead to inflammation. Add makeup or the use of moisturiser to this situation and sweat cannot effectively wash away impurities, leading to clogged pores and post-work out pimples."

READ MORE: Instagram-hyped beauty products: do they really work?

Is makeup completely off the cards then?

Sounds like it! "When you have a full face of makeup on at the gym, it stops the sweat flushing out the pores effectively, leading to congestion which can then result in the onset of acne and skin sensitivity," she says. Look away, liquid foundation fans - it's the key product culprit. "Liquid foundations can sit on the skin and stop it from allowing your sweat to flush out the cell debris in pores," she adds. 

clinique powder gym

While working out, a powder is much better for your skin than a liquid

What about if you must wear makeup to the gym?

For those that simply can't go without a little coverage, Kate recommends a dusting of powder, rather than any creamy products. "I’d advise thoroughly removing your make-up and moisturiser from the day and reapplying a light dusting of mineral powder, which should help limit any post-workout breakouts compared to keeping your normal face on," she says. A swirl of bareMinerals Bare Pro Performance Wear Powder, or the new CliniqueFit Post-Workout Neutralizing Face Powder will do a good job - the latter has a colour-correcting yellow tone to reduce redness. If you must wear mascara, try SportFX Stamina Mascara, which defies sweat with its waterproof formula. 

READ MORE: Would you try any of these high-tech skincare gadgets?

Products to avoid

Other products for the 'avoid' pile are ones that include 'occlusive' ingredients, which form a film on the skin and prevent water loss. "Occlusive ingredients like shea butter and some silicones are bad for your skin at the best of times, let alone when you’re exacerbating your oil flow during exercise, so these are best avoided," says Kate. 

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Make like supermodel Adriana Lima and sweat it out makeup-free!

And what about after exercise?

"Post-session, wait until you have stopped perspiring and cleanse the face with a beta hydroxy acid-based cleanser," says Kate. "I like the SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Cleansing Gel." Follow with a salicylic acid-based treatment to reduce sebum and clean pores. "If your skin is particularly acne-prone, you can use benzyl peroxide, which will control the oil flow for up to five hours," she concludes. Time for a new gym makeup bag?

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