Readers Roundtable: Running in Makeup?

Makeup for running? Really?On April 1, one of our readers messaged us wondering if this Runner’s World video about applying makeup for running was a joke. We don’t think so, but it got a good conversation going behind the scenes here, so we thought it would be a great subject to discuss with you!

Do you always wear makeup on the run? Or never? Or sometimes, depending on the situation? How about when racing? Have you ever had a makeup and running fail, or do you have amazing tips for running with makeup? Do you, like our reader who sent in the question, think the entire subject is ludicrous? Tell us!

How do you feel about running in makeup?

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Salty Running boss and mother of 3 little ones with PRs of 3:10:15 (26.2), 1:25:59 (13.1) and 18:15 (5k). I love to write about running culture, mental training, and fitting in a serious running habit with the rest of a busy life.

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21 comments

  1. I both love and hate this topic because no man has ever had to expend mental energy on this question! But makeup is a thing I wear, for whatever reason, so it’s definitely relevant!

    The silliest thing about that runner’s world video was the implication that makeup will make you look better in race photos. At least I think that was the point. And I just think that of all the things that make my race photos absolutely freaking terrible, makeup or lack thereof is not anywhere near the top of the list. All the bronzer on the planet isn’t going to help those facial expressions!

    I don’t put on makeup especially for runs, especially early in the morning. I do however tend to wear at last some makeup every day to cover my rosacea spots, and don’t usually take it off before i run. So then I end up with makeup all over my shirt, which is a totally excellent look and also why I don’t quite get why you’d take special care with makeup on race day. In my experience even the stuff billed as waterproof will smear and smudge if I’m running long enough. But then, not everyone sweats as much as I do.

    1. It literally never occurred to me to put make up on for a race. The first thing I do when I get home from work is remove it with a make up wipe–two if I’m going to go for a run. I can’t stand rubbing my face with my shirt and getting leftover gunk on it. Makeup does make me feel more professional at work but definitely doesn’t make me feel more bad-ass, which is how I like to feel on race morning!

      1. Yeah, I kinda don’t want to have a ritual reminding me to think about how I look before a race. Thinking about it, it seems like doing that might make one more self-conscious if prone to feeling that way, which is obviously not a conducive state of mind to racing well. Interesting!

  2. If I’m running with makeup on, it’s only because it’s already on my face for some other reason.
    Unless I’m going to a race and have a hideous cyclops zit …

  3. Hell, I don’t even wear makeup for *work*. And I’m with Caraway – lack of makeup in race photos is not what is making them terrible, it’s the “finish line gasping for breath because I started my kick too soon” face.

  4. I wear make up for races. I also wearing earrings for them too. Something about getting more dressed up for competition brings me into the zone. For training I don’t wear it unless I’m meeting someone after work and already have it on. Granted, my makeup is eye shadow and mascara, so it’s not something that melts off too easily.

    1. I’ve honestly considered getting ready for a race like it’s some other important event I’d wear makeup and jewelry to! Usually I’m just too lazy to bother with makeup that’ll just end up all smudged, but I have wondered whether it would make a difference in my racing mindset.

  5. The makeup routine in the video is a bit on the insane side to me. I’ve never worn that much makeup in my life, even at my wedding! The thought of spending 5 times the time putting makeup on as I do to get dressed to run is hilarious and it would feel weird to sweat like a fountain with all that on, even if it doesn’t move. MAYBE if we were doing a photo shoot or something, otherwise no way! But I have run in my day makeup many times and don’t care. I hate when the concealer under my eyes gets all gross when it sweats off and, of course, the mascara thing. Occasionally I’ll wear a little waterproof mascara to a race just to look a little more awake. In regular life, since I don’t have to go to an office, I only wear makeup if I have a social engagement or if I’m going out. I like makeup, but I’m pretty basic and boring about it.

  6. No makeup for me when I’m running. I sweat like crazy. I’d probably end up looking like Heath Ledger’s Joker. An’t nobody got time for that.

  7. Nope nope nope nope. First, anyone who read Olive’s acne article should know that wearing makeup while running is asking for more pimples. It clogs up your pores and then all that sweat and bacteria gets trapped, and then you reach up there with your dirty hand or dirty shirt to wipe your face and make it worse. Before I run, I always use a makeup remover wipe if I have anything on. Mascara definitely, because otherwise that’s going to end up all over my face for sure. And it’s all going to be on my shirt. And it just feels gross to me.

    Now, if you think makeup helps you feel race-ready, more power to you. Go for it. But before a race, I’m more worried about making sure I poop than I am applying lipstick, that’s for sure!

  8. I have done it mostly b/c I’m wearing it already from some other event I was at prior and I don’t want to take the time to wash it off. I do hate running with mascara b/c my eyes water when I run and it ends up dribbled all over my face and it burns my eyes.But if someone wants to paint their face and run – cool! And double cool if she’s fast and wears it and doesn’t give a F☠️☠️☠️ What anyone thinks.

    1. I totally agree. The only time I wear makeup while running is when i squeeze in a lunchtime run and don’t have time to even wipe my face before heading out the door. The burning eye sensation is terrible!

  9. If I have makeup on during a training run it’s always because I was too lazy to wash it off beforehand. Racing is slightly different story. I don’t feel that I NEED it, but I like having a little something on (nothing crazy and definitely not a full face done up). Typically for a race I’ll wear mascara to feel more awake and maybe a little concealer if I’m having one of those fun breakout days. Its a confidence thing, even though I know I shouldn’t let it bother me.

    Mascara can bite you in the ass racing, even waterproof. It burns like hell in your eyes. I have had it a few times where sweat, pouring water on my head in heat, or unexpected rain made it run and me wiping it mid race made it get in my eyes and basically cant see on top of having obnoxious burning sensation. I’m a little more cautious of when I wear it because of that.

  10. I love racing in makeup. It makes me feel ready. Maybe it’s the former chorus girl in me, but race day is showtime. It’s what I’ve “rehearsed” for and I don’t feel stage-ready if I don’t have at least a little eyeliner.

  11. I used to be much more self-conscious about being bare-faced. In the past, I was also really lazy, so any makeup I would be wearing during a morning run would simply be leftover from the previous day. Race day would definitely include some foundation and eye makeup, because I didn’t want to look bad in pictures.
    In the past year I have embraced going without makeup and I don’t even worry about what I look like anymore. I am almost always bare-faced when I run, unless I’m running after work and am too lazy to remove it.
    Since I’m trying to minimize my Melasma upper lip tan, I am all about slathering on the sunscreen now instead of makeup 🙂

  12. I started running in a climate that was so hot and humid you sweated before you left the house, so it never occurred to me to wear makeup for race day. The first time I saw someone putting on makeup and a race bib in the locker room, I did a double take! I personally haven’t and won’t – on race day I’m too busy worrying about other things – but really I’ll only look *slightly* askance at people who do race day makeup. Sometimes makeup is a crutch. Sometimes it’s a power suit. Who’s to say what it means for different people?

  13. I’m way more interested in making sure I’ve slathered my face with sunscreen so its protected than caring about looking good when I’m running (and I don’t give a hoot about race photos). To be honest, I always kinda do a double take when I see someone wearing makeup in a race when it is obviously on purpose (not because she just came from work or something)… it is just so bizarre to me. But, after reading some of these replies… I’ll try to be less judgy! Whatever makes you feel ready to go… I’m sure some of my pre-race habits are equally as bizarre.

  14. I should preface my response with what I wear for makeup most days: mascara and nude eye shadow. Exciting, right? I guess I’m going for a perfected natural look, lol. I don’t do foundation ever, just sunscreen. So, on an average day if I’m running in make up it’s because that’s how it worked out that day time-wise. On race day, I always wear my mascara/eye shadow though. It makes me feel more confident and ready.

  15. I usually don’t run or race in makeup unless it’s an evening race or run and I had makeup on earlier. I don’t wear a lot of makeup so I haven’t had to deal with it running. Bare minerals and NYX eye makeup products are great for running if you do want to wear make up or run later after wearing it all day. I did race a few times where I intentionally put make up on to race (inspired by Shannon Rowburry). It felt fun, loud, and powerful. It was an indoor track race though. In a road race, it’s clouded with so many people and more than likely, I have sunglasses on so what’s the point?

  16. I don’t paint my face, but I wear eyeshadow and liner, lip color, and concealer on the red areas – every day. It’s been one of my morning rituals since I was a teenager. I’m 60 and I’m not going to start going barefaced now. So, yes I wear makeup when I run.