You’ve packed your gym bag and are ready to go—but what about your beauty products? Just like your wardrobe, it's a good idea to modify your beauty routine depending on your activities. And working out is no exception: your skin has different needs pre- and post-workout to keep it healthy and happy.
Not sure what to use in the locker room? No problem. Pack up your workout clothes, gym shoes, and water bottle, then reach for these makeup and skincare gym bag essentials for a glowing complexion before, during, and after your sweat sesh.
First things first: always start with fresh, makeup-free skin. Sweating opens up your pores, says Marisa Garshick, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Medical Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery Centers in New York City, so makeup or other products on your skin can clog your pores and lead to breakouts. This is especially true after you've been pushing yourself on the treadmill or sweating it out on a yoga mat.
If you have a few minutes to spare, use a cleansing balm like BANILA CO Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm Original. This gym essential is super gentle and will leave your skin soft and hydrated after rinsing. Then, simply dab your face with a microfiber towel (a plain gym towel will do the trick if you're in a hurry) for clear, glowing skin in seconds.
When time is of the essence, stick with makeup remover wipes. We love that H2O+ Elements Wipe Away the Day Face Cloths are good for all skin types and can be easily stashed with your gym gear for on-the-go makeup removal. Plus, they can also be used post-workout for a quick cleanse.
Weight lifting, cardio, a quick walk around the neighborhood to boost your heart rate–no matter how you choose to sweat, if you're exercising outside, you'll need good sun protection to prevent sun damage. This not only means applying sunscreen before you go outside to begin a workout, but also reapplying every two hours, says Dr. Garshick. Of course, every bottle's different, so be sure to pay attention to the water-resistant duration the sunscreen offers (it's usually between 40 or 80 minutes) and be sure to reapply within that window.
Dr. Garshick recommends using a sunscreen with SPF 30 that is oil-free or non-comedogenic to prevent clogging your pores while you sweat. COOLA SUNCARE Classic Face Organic Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 is a workout essential—in addition to SPF 50, this moisturizing face lotion and sunscreen in one has an antioxidant blend to protect your skin from free radical damage. Slather it on before heading outdoors, and don’t forget to reapply after your post-workout shower for protection throughout the day.
When sweat sits on your skin for too long, it can attract bacteria and clog your pores, says Dr. Garshick. After your workout, you’ll want to rinse your face ASAP to clear your pores of sweat, especially if you’re acne-prone. It’s also important to not over-wash, scrub, or exfoliate your skin too much post-workout, as this can cause irritation to your skin.
You'll want to reach for a gentle facial cleanser with pore-clearing ingredients, like AROMATICA Tea Tree Balancing Foaming Cleanser. This all-star face wash contains tea tree oil, which has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties known to treat acne and stop breakouts. Simply pop it in your gym bag and rinse after your workout for a deep, pore-clearing clean in seconds.
In addition to cleansing your face, you should also take care of your body post-workout. It’s important not to let sweat sit on your skin for too long, especially for those with sensitive skin, as sweat contains salt which can be irritating and drying on your body. For a foolproof clean, Dr. Garshick recommends pairing a gentle body wash with a deep-cleaning body scrub to rid the skin of any dirt, grime or extra oils that may have been sitting on your skin during an exercise session.
We love THEORIE Charcoal Bamboo Detoxifying Body Scrub for a post-workout wash. It’s gentle but effective and simultaneously exfoliates and hydrates your skin, thanks to deep-cleaning charcoal and pumice and moisturizing jojoba and sweet almond oils. It's the ideal combo for clearing away sweat and oils without stripping or over-drying your skin.
Now that your face is fresh and clean, it’s time to apply a serum. There are tons of great options out there, so you'll want to choose one specific to your skincare needs. Our gym essential for dry to normal skin is SWEET CHEF Kale + Vitamin B Serum Shot. This serum shot is the perfect size to slip into your gym bag, and it's made with superfoods like kale and aloe vera and multitasking vitamin B to gently hydrate and smooth your skin.
Or try SWEET CHEF Beet + Vitamin A Serum Shot if you're looking to refine your pores and smooth your skin's texture. All-natural seaberry fruit extract and beets get to work strengthening your skin, while vitamin A smooths your skin and minimizes the look of pores. No matter which serum you choose, the lightweight, jelly-like texture feels amazing post-workout.
Just like you do in your morning routine, it’s super important to moisturize after working out. When you sweat and then wash your skin, you remove excess oil, which can leave your skin feeling dry, says Dr. Garshick. By moisturizing post-workout, you help your skin retain moisture and help improve your skin's natural barrier to prevent future water loss and keep your skin from drying out.
Again, you want to choose a moisturizer that’s right for you skin. If you have sensitive skin, try KNOURS. Skin Meditation Gel Cream. This soothing gel cream contains peppermint oil to reduce facial flushing, plus a blend of ceramides, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid to nourish and plump your skin.
Have dry skin? Try using a cream-based moisturizer like use AHAVA Essential Day Moisturizer, which is packed with mineral-rich Dead Sea water, amino acids, and vitamins E and B5 to strengthen your skin. If you have normal to oily skin, PURLISSE Watermelon Energizing Aqua Balm is a good option. Its namesake ingredient is more than just a yummy fruit; it has vitamins A, C, and E, which help moisturize and brighten your complexion without leaving you greasy or oily.
ICYMI, the skin around your eyes is the thinnest on your face. Don’t neglect this sensitive spot; it deserves some TLC post workout, too. Use an eye serum or cream and gently pat it under your eyes with your ring finger for the least amount of pressure. We love that PURLISSE Blue Lotus 4-in-1 Eye Adore Serum is an anti-aging superstar—it helps with fine lines, puffiness, dark circles, and of course, dryness.
While you should never feel like you have to wear makeup to the gym, if you do feel like sporting something, eye makeup is generally a good way to go. Plus, you can also swipe it on after a workout for instant natural glam.
If you're going for a pre-workout eye makeup look, opt for waterproof formulas, especially when it comes to eyeliner (which runs easily). SUGAR COSMETICS Wingman Waterproof Eyeliner and TARTE Double Duty Beauty™ Easy on the Eyes Clay Liner are both great options. And stick with a smudge-proof mascara, like BROOKLYN & BAILEY Lash Next Door Mascara, to prevent fallout all around your eyes while you get to work.
Typically, the less that’s on your face prior to a workout, the better, says Dr. Garshick. But luckily, there are formulas that are non-comedogenic and shouldn't clog your pores, even if you get hot and sweaty while wearing them.
If your skin is prone to breakouts but you still want to sport something during a workout, look for waterproof makeup that's non-comedogenic. MAC COSMETICS Pro Longwear Nourishing Waterproof Foundation is a good option to add to your gym toiletries bag, because it actually repels moisture from the surface of your face and is non-acnegenic, meaning it's less likely to cause acne. Plus, this oil-free foundation can double as concealer, too, so it's a great option even if you don't want to rock a full face to the gym.
Mineral face makeup is great for a quick touch-up post-workout or pre-workout if you're doing a lighter, less sweaty session. Try PÜR 4-in-1 Pressed Mineral Makeup Broad Spectrum SPF 15, a hybrid foundation, concealer, powder, and SPF in one. It goes on so smooth, you might even forget you're wearing it!
To make your makeup last your whole session (or even if you're looking to skip face makeup entirely), wear a skin-boosting primer like TOO FACED Hangover Replenishing Face Primer. It soothes, smoothes, and softens skin as you wear it thanks to hydration-heavy coconut oil. Blend it in with or without any makeup you choose to wear for a nourishing, healthy glow.
The final step: your lips. Yes, sweat can dry out your lips, too, so you'll want to make sure this delicate skin area is as moisturized as the rest of you. Swipe on a balm to nourish your lips in an instant. The choice is up to you: go natural with a clear shade of lip balm like this ultra-moisturizing NOYAH Organic Lip Balm Set in Peppermint and Vanilla or pick a pop of color like BEAUTY FOR REAL Lip Revival Tinted Lip Balm in Hannah, Laura, or Debbie.
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