Judge not the wearing of makeup at the gym?

CorrespondentJuly 16, 2014 


Sweating is a highly effective means of makeup removal.


I have never been one to label myself as “glamorous,” but I do believe in taking the time to apply a little eye shadow and mascara once in a while.

My approach to makeup is largely driven by a desire to avoid frightening small children in public – and myself when I encounter a mirror. It is optional for day-to-day activities like going to work and meeting friends for coffee.

But putting it on for the sole purpose of going to the gym or hitting the trail for a morning run? Well, that’s just ridiculous. Here’s why:

1 Ain’t nobody got time for that! Seriously y’all, it takes every shred of motivation I can possibly muster just to drag myself out of bed, find and put on clean clothes that hopefully kind of match, brush my teeth and get out the door. If I were to add any extracurriculars, such as makeup application and hair-styling, it’s unlikely that I would ever make it to the gym ever again. So there’s that.

2 Makeup is NOT sweat-proof. When I go to the gym or out for a run I typically work up a pretty healthy “glow.” Profuse sweating is a highly effective means of makeup removal, and one that can often get messy and unattractive. Perhaps someone makes a fancier, more expensive variety of makeup that does not come off at the first tiny glimmer of sweat, I am not privy to such exotic luxuries.

3 Who’s really going to notice anyway? It has been my (extremely general) observation that gym-goers are a rather self-absorbed bunch (at least while they are working out). Maybe they can’t stop admiring their own beautiful biceps in the mirror, or they just want to get the workout over with so they can get out of the gym and on with their lives. But for the most part, people at the gym are pretty dang laser-focused on whatever it is that they are doing and nothing more. I know this to be true for myself, save for two specific scenarios in which I may momentarily divert my attention from the workout at hand: Canvassing the facility for attractive, non-obnoxious-looking guys, and pausing to look around and judge my fellow exercisers who wear makeup at the gym.

Yes, I confess to occasionally judging those gym makeup wearers: “I guess some of us come to the gym to work out, and some of us are here to draw attention to ourselves.” “Anyone who still has every perfectly curled hair in place and no sign of runny mascara after an hour on the treadmill clearly isn’t working hard enough.” “This is the gym, a place were serious sweaty workouts happen, not a beauty pageant.”

I know that all of this judging is totally lame, and that it is most likely rooted in nothing more than my insecurities about the embarrassingly low level of effort I put into how I look when venturing out in public. And really, going to the gym is always better than not going to the gym, and if a face full of makeup is the thing that gives you the drive and confidence to show up for a workout, well, I am here to fully support you in that!

Moving forward, I will do my best to be less judgmental of my fancily made-up gym-mates. Heck, maybe I’ll even throw on a little eye shadow and lip gloss the next time I head to the gym just to see if it makes me feel more confident and fabulous. Don’t hold your breath, though.

Ellen Moss of Durham is an avid runner who writes The Fast and the Fabulous (, a blog that critiques workout apparel.

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