Should You Work Out in Makeup? The 101 on Makeup Breakouts

makeup breakouts

It’s the end of the day, and you don’t want to wash off your makeup because post-shower snooze is real—and you’re afraid you won’t make it to the HIIT class you’ve been looking forward to all day. Will one class lead to makeup breakouts? Even if we tell ourselves otherwise, we all know deep down that working out in makeup is a skincare faux pax.

The 101 on Makeup Breakouts

Here’s what happens if you work up a sweat with a face full of makeup. First, your pores won’t breathe. How come? Because throughout the day, your makeup began to mix with natural sebaceous secretions (also known as oil), sweat, and bacteria. Essentially, your pores are filled to the brim. 

Now, in an effort to detox, your pores will desperately try and clear themselves while your heart rate climbs and the rest of your body begins to sweat. The only issue is that thanks to the makeup, the pores on your face have zero pathways for sweat to escape, causing inflammation beneath the surface of your skin.

This inflammation—combined with dirt, oil, and bacteria—can and will cause makeup breakouts. The longer you wait to shower after a workout (even after a workout sans makeup) the more opportunity you provide for your pores to clog, inflame, and break out.

How should I remove makeup pre-workout?

If we’re all on board with team no-makeup-during-sweat-sessions, let’s talk about how to thoroughly remove makeup before working out. 

When clearing makeup, think of your skin as if you were washing your hair. First, you wash the grime out, then you condition your actual locks. Similarly, we want to break up makeup and sunscreen (which, gentle reminder, you should be wearing daily!) with an oil cleanser. 

You’ll massage an oil cleanser on dry skin (this is important) for 2+ minutes, then add a little bit of water and continue massaging for another sixty seconds minimum, rinsing with warm water. My personal favorite is Sana Skin’s Purity Oil Cleanser (sidebar: it’s from a small female-owned business—which we love!). 

Following the oil cleanse, you’ll use a water-based cleanser (PSA, most cleansers are water-based!). My personal favorite for sensitive, acne-prone skin is Lilac + Flint’s Cucumber Cream Cleanser (another small, female-owned business; use code katherine15). A few times a week, I also like to use their Flawless Pumpkin Clarifying Cleanser.

Acne-safe Makeup Recommendations

While we shouldn’t be working out in makeup, there’s nothing wrong with wearing it during other parts of our day! So for my sensi-acne-prone girlies, find a list of all acne-safe makeup options to prevent those makeup breakouts below:

Self Tanner
Tinted Sunscreen / BB Cream
Setting Powder
Setting Spray

How can I tell if my makeup is acne-safe?

Whether it’s skincare or makeup, checking a product’s ingredient list to see if the formulation will cause a breakout is another important practice. I say this without a shred of hesitation: 99% of what’s on the market is garbage. Brands create products to cause issues that low and behold, they have another product to fix! 

So how do we make smart choices and save money? The answer is CosDNA, a nifty little website that allows you to dissect the ingredients of any given product before you whip out your wallet. Here’s how it works:

  1. Find the product you’re looking to buy online.
  2. copy the entire ingredient list (not just the highlighted ingredients they want you to know about).
  3. Open CosDNA, and find the analyze cosmetics tab on top.
  4. Paste your ingredient list.
  5. Column one displays acne triggers—every ingredient in this category should be at a zero or one (representing its comedogenic rating, i.e. its likelihood of clogging your pores). Analyze your product. If any ingredient has a numerical rating above one, IT’S A PASS.

And there you have it! The power to make informed decisions on your skincare and makeup has always been at your fingertips. Happy sweating (sans makeup, of course)!

You may also like


  • Katherine Menna

    A ballerina turned fitness pro, Katherine has Pilates Mat I, Pilates reformer, and CPR/AED certifications. A passionate vegan who loves DIY projects, home improvements, and doggos, she also owns and operates her own skincare company, Rosery92.


One response to “Should You Work Out in Makeup? The 101 on Makeup Breakouts”

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: