How Well Does Makeup Actually Last When Exercising

I usually stare in disbelief when I see women who wear makeup to the gym leave looking as flawless as when they first stepped foot on the treadmill. I don't normally wear makeup when exercising, so I wanted to discover how well cosmetics actually last during a workout. Sure, I've sported some leftover mascara to an evening gym session here or there, but I've never flaunted a full face covered in product. Knowing that I sweat (profusely) when I exercise, I've honestly never thought there was any point in my wearing makeup for fitness, but I wanted to test things out once and for all.

In my home workout routine, there's little reason for me to wear makeup while exercising (not that there's any reason to wear makeup to the gym period, unless you like doing so for yourself). Obviously everyone is different, and not everyone sweats as much as the next person. But I've always wondered if the women I've seen wearing full-on, pristine makeup during their workouts had some magical tricks up their sleeves.

And so, I decided to undergo what I consider an intense workout, knowing full well I would be sweating loads, with my face in all its makeup-ed glory. Here's how it went down.


This is me with a fresh face, before I applied anything to my skin.

This is me with a full face of makeup on. I used products that were not specifically branded as waterproof because I wanted to see how everyday makeup would hold up during a workout.

I began by moisturizing my face with Nivea and applying Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation In "Vanilla." After this, I exaggerated my eyebrows with a Colorsport 24 Hour Eyeliner in a brown shade. Next, I created rosy cheeks with a Bourjois blush in “Rose Frisson."

After this, I created a smoky eye with a L'Oréal Paris Color Riche Eyeshadow Quad in "Smoky" and finished off my peepers with a feline flick created with the aforementioned eyeliner, plus a layer or two of Lush Eyes Right Mascara.

Finally, I applied Rimmel London's Moisture Renew Lipstick in "Diva Red" to complete my look. I was ready to get my sweat on.

The Workout

I have been following Kayla Itsines' Bikini Body Guide (a name she now regrets, because #bodypos) for some time now. The guide is split up into various chapters encompassing weekly training sessions, instructions on how to perform various exercises, and advice for beginners.

The workouts are comprised of two circuits. Each circuit contains four exercises, of which you must complete a certain number of reps. The circuits are both seven minutes long and must be completed twice. If you finish a circuit in less than seven minutes, you're supposed to start it over from the beginning and keep going until the time is up. Altogether, the entire workout is approximately half an hour long, with short breaks in between each circuit.

The workout I completed during my experiment contained a selection of exercises including burpees, skipping, different types of lunges, squats, and more. To make this test fair, I wanted to complete the workout normally, as though I wasn't wearing a full face of makeup. Thus, I would be wiping sweat off my face with a towel if needed and itching my face freely.

End Of Circuit 1, Round 1

After completing my first circuit and the first seven minutes of the workout, my heart was racing. But I had yet to begin sweating. My hair, on the other hand, was beginning to look a little disheveled.

End Of Circuit 2, Round 2

Not too much had changed at the halfway mark, aside from the fact that my lipstick was bleeding a little and I had wiped my perspiring forehead, removing some of my foundation along the way. I was pleasantly surprised at how well my makeup was lasting.

End Of Circuit 1, Round 2

After 21 minutes of exercise, I was beginning to labour and had to have a little lie down. After sweating a lot and using my towel to wipe my face, it appeared I had smudged my mascara and my lipstick was beginning to fade.

End Of Circuit 2, Round 2

At the end of my workout, I was left with glowing cheeks that were possibly rosier than when I began. As you can see, quite a lot of my makeup had been removed from sweating and the odd towel wipe.

Does Makeup Last When You Work Out?

My makeup really faded during my workout. It appears that my infrequent removal of sweat with my towel didn't have too much of an effect, as streaks and wipe marks would have likely been visible if so. I tried to only wipe my face when my sweat was starting to bug me.

As for my eye makeup, my eyeliner almost disappeared, my eyeshadow lightened a few shades, my eyebrows became less dark and less refined, and my mascara smudged.

My lipstick was probably the worst affected area as it smudged and faded remarkably. This is probably because I was gulping water throughout, and perhaps some sweat from my upper lip interfered with it. I also found myself pressing my lips together during moments when I was finding the exercise particularly difficult, and I may have wiped my upper lip with my towel.

From this experiment, I would definitely advise not to wear makeup during a workout if you know you sweat. Chances are, the products aren't going to last very well, and you'll likely experience the same sort of smudging and smearing I did. Having seen women at the gym pull this off, however, I am left to assume that their sweat glands simply aren't as active as my own. But as for me, I can confirm that I wouldn't feel quite as comfortable sporting this post-workout makeup for the rest of the day without some sort of touch-up. Unless I was going for that "sweaty chic" look that seems popular in workout-wear ads.

Of course, if you generally enjoy wearing makeup, then perhaps you could opt for products that are waterproof or specifically sweat-proof. I would also advise to tone down the amount of makeup you normally wear and go for a minimal beauty look, considering exercising while wearing makeup can cause blackheads and increase the likelihood of breakouts.

In the end, I think I'll be going au naturale and loving the skin I'm in by wearing little or no makeup during my workout. Plus, I think my pores will thank me.

Images: Phoebe Waller