Track and field star Jessica Ennis, currently in training for the London 2012 Olympics, recently admitted that she always competes in a full face of makeup. While this sounds like a typical trip to Pilates class for a Kardashian, I have to admit that I found it a little surprising for a serious athlete—but then again, I’ve never had millions of people worldwide watch me exert myself on TV. And Ennis’s explanation of her race ritual to The Daily Mailcertainly makes sense: “I definitely think if I feel I look good, it makes me feel more confident,” she told the London paper.
Her story also made me wonder exactly what effect makeup could have on your complexion if you are really sweating up a storm. “Wearing makeup while working out can hinder some of the natural ways your skin adjusts to exertion, like sweating and dilating pores,” says New York City dermatologist Erin Gilbert. “This can be a disaster as it often leads to clogged pores and breakouts.” Here, she shares her tips on how to protect your skin while you sweat, if you are like Ennis and feel the need to not go bare-faced.
Be prepared. For oily or acne-prone skin, Gilbert recommends washing your face with an oil-free cleanser before working out to get rid of any bacteria that might be tempted to invade your soon-to-be open pores. If you have sensitive skin that tends to experience a burning sensation from sweat, apply a protective layer of a gentle moisturizer like CeraVe, but always skip heavy moisturizers with thickening agents like dimenthicone that can clog pores.
Be smart. Thick, oily foundations or anything that comes in a solid compacts is the worst choice during exercise because they block sweat and sebum from leaving the skin, which in turn leads to blackheads and acne,” Gilbert explains. Instead, try a water-based foundation or mineral makeup that is less likely to clog pores.
Clean it up. Washing off excess makeup, sweat, and dirt after a workout is essential,” Gilbert says—and the sooner the better. She recommends washing with a mild cleanser like Cetaphil post-workout or throwing a cleansing wipe in your gym bag to get the job done if you’re somewhere without a locker room. Follow with moisturizer but remember, your skin can be more sensitive after exercising, so stick to gentle products.
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