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Is Wearing Makeup While Working Out Finally Ok?

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Over the past couple of years our growing love of health and fitness has changed the way we shop for beauty. Sales of muscle-soothing bath oils and body balms have spiked and experts are pinpointing gym-proof formulas to the 11 percent growth that prestige foundations saw last year. It’s no surprise that this month Clinique has unveiled an entire range dedicated to the fitness fiends among us. CliniqueFIT includes a sweat-proof Workout 24-Hour Mascara, £20, and an impressively feather-light Be Matte on the Mat Workout Make-up, £29.50, which comes complete with SPF 40 protection.

The latter is the hero product in the range as it has been formulated with specific polymers that stretch with your skin. ‘These are flexible ingredients that work like mesh to allow your skin to breathe, but also allows the formula to stay in place so that pigments don’t move,’ explains Dr Tom Mammone, the executive director of skin physiology and pharmacology for Clinique's research and development team. ‘It also allows other ingredients that are necessary for the formulas, like SPF, to stay on skin throughout a workout.’

The foundation formula underwent serious testing to ensure it can remain intact throughout the most intense HIIT class and keeps sweaty redness at bay. So much so, your skin looks almost as good in your post-workout selfie as it did in the pre-class one. Yet, the old-age conundrum of whether or not exercising in make-up causes breakouts still remains. Even with specially designed formulas, some experts aren’t convinced.

‘When you are building up a sweat your skin gets warm, so the pores relax and open, which means make-up particles can work their way in,’ says skin expert Debbie Thomas. ‘Once you cool down the pores tighten and trap the make-up.’ This often leads to a cluster of blackheads and blemishes erupting. Thomas points out that sweating is a way for your body to cool down and purging any toxins is part of this process. ‘If you have your make-up on and don’t cleanse straight after a sweaty workout you could risk more bacteria growth associated with stale sweat,’ says Thomas. (If you’re not keen on lugging a full-size cleanser in your gym bag, look into Dermalogica’s Skin Kits, £30 each, that cover every skincare need.)

Cosmetic dermatologist Dr Stefanie Williams is of the same opinion: ‘It’s important to keep the skin as unoccluded as possible when you’re exercising and while some foundations are worse than others, I generally recommend my patients to workout wearing a very light moisturiser only.’

So what make-up should we have in our gym bags...