This Is What You Need To Know About ‘Workout Makeup’


Living in Los Angeles without a car means I know precisely where all the public restrooms within a five mile radius are and which ones are worth the walk. I also spend a solid amount of time wandering around stores with no intent to buy anything because I am persistently early to appointments.

Fresh off the bus and awkward as hell, I walk straight into a drug store and browse the face masks. I have made good use of the lip gloss samples at Anthropologie, and last week I tried on a dress at a boutique mostly for the air conditioning and some privacy in front of a mirror.

Here I am again, strolling through the Rite Aid, pretending to be fascinated by Easter candy and ladies’ hand weights, which isn’t really a stretch because why is there a separate section for Girl Workout Things, tucked in the same aisle as the feminine products? Two rows over, one whole, non-pink aisle houses Regular Workout Things, alongside tools and toys—part of the gendering of products that not only perpetuates limited narratives, but that has been widely documented as a price gauging tactic harmful to those who identify as female. A practice known as the Pink Tax.

As I spent the remainder of my extra time doing cost analysis between the separately shaded vitamin bottles and razor blades, I was stopped by an end-cap in the beauty section.

Workout Makeup.

Designed not to wipe off with sweat!

As a fitness professional, there is a fair amount that I can appreciate about the advent of this product. Here are all the ways it can be useful:

  • Photo shoots.
  • Teaching or performing for an event, festival, or filmed classes.
  • Basically any kind of performance.

Here is the way I understand why people might want this even though it’s problematic:

If you are going to wear makeup to work out no matter what, you might as well have an option that doesn’t rub off on all the things.

But here are the reasons why the marketing of the product as it stands is worth unpacking:

1. Makeup is not good for your skin. In general, it traps your skin’s ability to breathe, clogs your sweat glands, and acts like a blanket on top of your body. This blanket is also often made of synthetic materials that can overly irritate an organ, which is already working hard to filter through pollutants, germs, and allergens. Add a sweaty workout to the mix and this is a recipe for blemishes, rashes, discomfort, and aggravated existing conditions like worsened or cystic acne.

2. What is good for your skin is good for your body. The more often you sweat, the more readily you will sweat, which is usually an indication of a healthy system. If you block that system and slow down the sweat threshold, you won’t get as much out of your workout as you could. If you have a fitness goal, that bronzer could be more of an obstacle than a highlight.

3. What is the good of your workout? If the main use of this product is in cases where the focus is on the appearance of the performance, then the main use of your workout needs to be considered. Effective exercise is often messy, sweaty, earthy, guttural, ugly even. It is for you, the inside, the whole-side of you. Maybe you don’t feel enough to go to the gym bare-faced. Maybe you don’t feel ready to be vulnerable in your body. I hope you do, but maybe you don’t, and never ever is it anyone else’s decision to make. Not mine, not the guy two rows over in cycle class, but especially not a company designed to profit off of how terrible you feel about the texture of your face.

In terms of the Pink Tax, think about the male equivalent of this idea. Is there one, and does it cost the same? I can’t think of anything.