Why You Should Not Run with Make Up On

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Determining whether makeup is harmful to skin when running Why You Should Not Run with Make Up On www.runnerclick.com

We have all heard the phrase “look good, feel good.” In fact, an article published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology stated, “Research has shown that attractive faces draw more attention than unattractive faces, and it is well known that facial attractiveness can be greatly enhanced by using makeup.”

So, if makeup helps us look good and can enhance our attractiveness, is it okay for us to wear it while exercising? And more specifically, is it problematic to wear while running?

Why You Should Not Wear Makeup on a Run

The main function of sweat is to control your body temperature. Sweat keeps your body cool when it evaporates from your skin. And there’s no doubt about it, a good running workout tends to produce sweat and raise your body temperature. So the issue becomes how can sweat evaporate from the skin if it is trapped in place by the layers of foundation, concealer, powder, blush, and so on? Your makeup essentially forms a barricade that does not allow the sweat to evaporate.

Anything that clogs your pores can cause you to breakout and have acne. So already on its own, makeup is clogging your skin pores. In fact, there is a specific name for acne caused by makeup – acne cosmetica.

You may think that by removing foundation and other “base” makeup, you are in the clear. However, acne cosmetica is not limited to certain placements of makeup. This acne can appear in other places, such as your lips or eyes.

And again, when you run your body is producing sweat to cool you down. This sweat can make your makeup smear. Have you ever noticed you started running with smoky eyes and by the end of a hard run ended up with raccoon eyes? Running with eye makeup or lipstick is still not a good idea. According to dermatologist and director of the Ethnic Skin Specialty Group, Fran Cook-Bolden, M.D. “It’s not the exercise that makes you break out, it’s the sweat.”

Need another reason why running with makeup is not to your benefit? Your skin contains sebaceous glands, which are what causes oily secretions known as sebum. When you exercise, sweat, sebum, and makeup all mix together and can clog your pores. Pretty gross, right? It’s hard to sweat out toxins if everything is getting trapped by a layer of makeup.

Here are some good skincare habits for runners.

Cleanse Prior to a Run

For many who wear makeup, there can often be a quick transition from work to the gym. Makeup remover wipes can be a great help, particularly for those on the go.

If you are looking for something a little more natural, coconut oil or aloe vera are surprisingly good makeup removers. And if you are feeling extra thorough, a sonic skin care brush can further assist in deep cleansing your pores.

Things You Should Wear to Protect Your Skin While Running

If exercising outdoors…

  • Sunscreen! This is important for every season, not just sunny summer. There are a number of sunscreens that help block your skin from harmful rays while also nourishing the skin. If used for running, it is definitely helpful to seek out a sunscreen that is water-resistant or waterproof. Other labels to look for are “hypoallergenic” (great for sensitive skin) or “non-comedogenic” (formulated to not block your pores).
  • Something to shield your eyes, such as a hat or polarized sunglasses. All sunglasses are not created equal. Polarized glasses help protect your peepers from sun glare and harmful effects from UV rays.
  • Moisture wicking clothing. We all know that cotton retains moisture and does not wick sweat. And yet, at times we are all probably guilty of throwing on an old t-shirt and hitting the road anyway. But as mentioned above, we don’t want anything—sweat, oil, makeup, etc.—lingering on our clothes. If we can wear the proper layers that wick sweat, we are helping keep our pores from getting clogged. Something you can also consider is SPF-rated Some SPF-rated clothes help protect skin from sunburn AND have moisture-control. Win-win!


One of the best things you can do for your skin is keep it hydrated. This means being hydrated before, during, and after a tough workout. And while obviously water is an excellent choice for hydration, we sometimes hear the complaint that someone doesn’t like the taste of water. Other great choices for liquids include hydration mixes. You can also drink things like green or white teas that hydrate while also packing an antioxidant punch.

Please note: hydration also means after a workout and shower, you should immediately apply a hydrating moisturizer.

Bottom Line

So, is it really that big a deal to go from work to the trails without wiping your face clean? Or are there consequences for leaving makeup on while you run? Makeup forms a barrier on your face and doesn’t allow your skin to properly regulate your body temperature. It can block pores and when your pores are blocked, you are more likely to breakout.

Best practice is to not wear any type of makeup while you run. The good news is exercise produces a natural glow and rush of endorphins so you can feel more confident in your decision to go sans makeup.


  1. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Quantifying the effect of makeup on facial attractiveness, Website
  2. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, A novel fluorescent makeup methodology used to measure the cleansing efficacy of a sonic skin care brush, Website
  3. Better Health Channel, Sweat, Website
  4. American Academy of Dermatology Association, I have acne! Is it ok to wear makeup?, Website
  5. Dermatology Times, Battling Breakouts, Website