Hitting the gym? Here’s your pre- and post-workout beauty plan for skin, hair and makeup

woman doing kickboxing

What would I do without all the men in my life? I have this guy and this guy and this guy… and now, the newest member of the team, this guy. I like to call him Trainer George. And basically, I pay him to force me to work out—because left to my own devices, I’m a lazy b*tch who’d sell her soul to Miss Vickie’s for a lifetime supply of salt and vinegar chips.

So George helps with that. He and I have logged a lot of “quality time” together over the past couple of months… even though I sometimes hate him (like when he makes me do these awful things called side crawls). Anyway! Since I can find a beauty angle for just about everything, I thought today we’d talk about gym beauty, because even though my thighs are still a work in progress, I’ve already learned a thing or two about looking (semi-)presentable while working up a sweat. Plus, some tips on how to quickly pull yourself together post-workout. Ready? Let’s dewit!


So depending on what time of day you’re working out (and how cute the guys are at your gym), you may or may not be going bare-faced. I have to tell you: the less foundation and powder you have on, the better. It’s only going to mix with your sweat anyway and potentially clog your pores. So if you can bear it, try to remove as much as you’re comfortable with using a face wipe. Have you seen this line Simple yet in drugstores? It’s just arrived in Canada from the UK, and their cleansing wipes are the number one-selling skincare product there—wowza!

Simple Facial Cleansing Wipes Hitting the gym? Heres your pre  and post workout beauty plan for skin, hair and makeupYou can buy these right here from Well.ca for just $9.99 (free shipping in Canada; no minimum order).

Of course, if you’re exercising outside or if it’s particularly sunny in your gym, then please also wear a sunscreen. Go for a sweat-proof one like Neutrogena’s:

Neutrogena Ultimate Sport Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 Hitting the gym? Heres your pre  and post workout beauty plan for skin, hair and makeup

This is also available at Well.ca, for $15.79 (free shipping in Canada; no minimum order).

Now, if you know me at all then you know that personally, I wouldn’t actually go bare-faced even to the gym. I leave my skin itself basically makeup-less, except for some concealer around the eyes, but if I’m really looking pale I’ll use this guy that I told you about the other day:

Shu Uemura Creamy Dome Blusher in Fairy Pink Hitting the gym? Heres your pre  and post workout beauty plan for skin, hair and makeup

Sorry, but I can’t help it. I NEED blush. And this one’s dead easy to swipe on. A smudge-proof mascara is also key for those of us with blonderexic lashes. My go-to is the waterproof Cannonball from Urban Decay, but Janine reminded me the other day of a category I’ve been forgetting lately—the tube kind. For example, this one from Lise Watier:

Lise Watier 24Hrs Glam Mascara Hitting the gym? Heres your pre  and post workout beauty plan for skin, hair and makeup

The most important “makeup” item of all in my book is lip balm. With all the huffing and puffing I do, and possibly-too-frequent sips of water in between sets, my lips get crazy dry in the gym. The only balm that goes the distance for me is this one from Rodial:

Rodial Glam Balm Lip Hitting the gym? Heres your pre  and post workout beauty plan for skin, hair and makeup

It’s very thick (thicker than my beloved By Terry, R.I.P.), kind of like the consistency of Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream. So a little goes a long way.

As for hair, well, Trainer George told me that if you’re doing your hair in some kind of “style” before going to the gym, then you’re not working out hard enough. Okay… point taken. There’s no way a cute topknot or braid would stay cute on me after an hour with TG.

But that said, not all of us have the time or inclination to wash our hair after the gym—so regardless of the intensity of your workout, it’s definitely worth securing it off your face to minimize the spread of style-killing sweat. I really find these Goody headbands the best:

Goody Stay Put Head Bands Hitting the gym? Heres your pre  and post workout beauty plan for skin, hair and makeup

Unlike regular cloth headbands, they have grip so they don’t move at all. I’m also a fan of clear elastics and, for girls with very thick hair, try these super-strong covered elastics from Bunheads (available from the National Ballet School).

Bunheads hair elastics Hitting the gym? Heres your pre  and post workout beauty plan for skin, hair and makeup


Well, obviously the first thing I recommend is showering! And actually, the sooner the better you get on that, because if you leave the sweat to sit, it can cause horrendous bacne breakouts (you know, like the kind you get around your sports bra? Ugh). Here are three new ones I’ve been enjoying lately from Clean & Clear:

Clean Clear Body Washes Hitting the gym? Heres your pre  and post workout beauty plan for skin, hair and makeup

Doesn’t the packaging make you so happy? They smell great too, and the price is crazy cheap considering how big the bottle is (473 mL). Buy from Well.ca for just $6.99 each here or here (free shipping in Canada; no minimum order).

I wouldn’t use a body wash on your face, though, since it might be too irritating. And even worse is the soap in the dispensers at the gym. So if you’re not showering at home, just rinse your face with water and then bust out your cleansing wipes again when you get out, so as to remove any final traces of sweat, dirt or makeup. Besides the Simple ones I mentioned above, another new option is from Bioré (who’ve just come out with all new packaging):

Biore Make Up Removing Towelettes Hitting the gym? Heres your pre  and post workout beauty plan for skin, hair and makeup

Follow that up with a BB Cream on your face for an all-in-one dose of moisturizer, SPF and light coverage. Have I mentioned that I get crazy compliments on the Estée Lauder one? Maybe it’s partially my post-Trainer George glow, but this stuff does magical things for me.

Estee Lauder Daywear BB Multi Perfecting Beauty Benefit Creme SPF 35 Hitting the gym? Heres your pre  and post workout beauty plan for skin, hair and makeup

For your bod, I find a spray lotion the handiest. I’m not sure if anyone else makes them besides The Body Shop? You can’t go wrong with theirs in Coconut Milk—an oldie but a goodie:

The Body Shop Coconut Milk Body Lotion Hitting the gym? Heres your pre  and post workout beauty plan for skin, hair and makeup

As for your hair, well, I’m a fan of strategic showering for spots like the bangs, since they always seem to require a fresh blow-dry after getting all sweaty. (You can leave the rest of your hair as is.) But if you don’t have a fringe, and your hair is basically clean but slightly sweaty, then the easiest thing is to just go with that texture. In fact, I’ve heard that the salts in the sweat can actually give hair more volume. WOO HOO. Pump it up even more with a salty beach spray like this one from Tigi:

Catwalk by Tigi Salt Spray Hitting the gym? Heres your pre  and post workout beauty plan for skin, hair and makeup

Mist it through, and then either let your hair dry naturally or blast it for a few minutes with a hair dryer.

Now all you need are your makeup add-ons of choice (mascara, liner, blush, lippie) and you can strut out of the gym humming this song:

Tell me…

What’s your workout of choice these days?
Do you wear makeup or style your hair a certain way before going to the gym?
Which beauty products do you keep in your bag for post-workout prep?


Friday, April 13/2012 at 6:57 pm

I always see articles like this and think the tips are great. I am always so sweaty and red faced none of this works for me. My hair is soaked with sweat and my face beat red. I need a full on shower, hair included. I have to start from scratch after a workout!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, May 3/2012 at 5:06 pm

Trainer George would approve! After I see him I can’t get away without washing my hair either…


Thursday, August 8/2013 at 1:40 pm

I feel you, whenever I work out, my scalp gets so sweaty, and long hair does not help.. My hair is also curly so it just turns into a big frizzy mess. To make matters worse, my face gets red so easily!


Friday, April 13/2012 at 7:20 pm

Loved this post!! I don’t wear any makeup to gym (that I look fwd to only when it’s time for zumba class) except for a tinted lip balm.


Chelsea C
Friday, April 13/2012 at 9:14 pm

I saw the facial wipes at Walmart, here in Coquitlam, BC. I have been using the Kirkland ones from Costco (they are OK, but not my favorite).


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, May 3/2012 at 5:07 pm

Forgot to mention the Yes To line (Carrots, Cucumbers etc). Their facial wipes are amazing! Probably my faves. They just had a media event yesterday and are launching a Tomatoes version for acne-prone skin.


Sunday, April 15/2012 at 11:24 am

I agree with Trainer George, anyone who styles their hair (or does their makeup!) before working out is not working out hard enough. I wash my face with a gentle scrub after every workout, and I always shower – and wash my hair, because when you’re really working out, leaving that much sweat in your hair is not an option. Other than that, I don’t have time for any of these other considerations. Working out is not a pretty activity. I just deal with it.


Sunday, April 15/2012 at 12:34 pm

I’m like Jennifer. After a workout I’m completely redfaced and my hair is drenched with sweat. I workout at home, rather than have to deal with the sweat and red face for hours in public.


Sunday, April 15/2012 at 9:44 pm

I usually use Shiseido facial wipes before work-out, and Fresh sugar lip balm.
And if I have time after working out I shower, use sauna, then apply moisturizer and head home.


Monday, April 16/2012 at 9:53 am

Wow! You’re still liking the Estee Lauder BB cream? I might have to check that out since I hate wearing both a moisturizer with sunscreen and a foundation in the summer.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, May 3/2012 at 5:10 pm

Yep I love it! Going to be so sad when it runs out. Stila’s is also nice but I’m not clear on how much SPF it has. They don’t claim it on the packaging but the ingredients say it “may contain” titanium dioxide. To be on the safe side I wear that one at night.

Oh, and M.A.C’s is pretty good too – surprisingly good coverage.


Monday, April 16/2012 at 11:25 am

I’m stunned at how Michelle’s new posts are always right on time and occasion!) Was just thinking the other day to ditch my foundation for when I’m working out, but haven’t done it yet. I try to exercise later at night, where I can come home, take a shower, take off the leftover make up from my face and go to bed. I don’t think I am ready yet to go bare faced in front of people…


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, May 3/2012 at 5:11 pm

I hear you! A bit of concealer never hurt anyone, right? :)


Tuesday, April 17/2012 at 7:38 pm

This post, and blog altogether, is so vapid. Nobody needs this many products in their life! You seem like a very insecure woman who surrounds herself with male experts to feel validated.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, May 3/2012 at 5:20 pm

Well it IS a beauty blog Tina :) Not sure what you expected to find here?

I like to give readers lots of product options (since I am a beauty writer by trade and therefore get sent almost everything new that comes out), however the key word is OPTIONS. It’s just education/entertainment – readers can use all, some or none of what I recommend, it’s all okay!

I’m not sure what the gender of my dermatologist, hairdressers and personal trainer has to with anything – certainly not validation – but if you feel good about yourself without using any beauty products, then GREAT! However, I disagree with your opinion that people who do take an interest in appearance and grooming are insecure. That’s so one-dimensional… like you can’t simultaneously appreciate Shakespeare and read US Weekly? :)


Wednesday, April 18/2012 at 9:34 pm

To Tina: it’s a beauty blog. Not metaphysics. Most women use the advice and expertise on these to help them feel more secure about themselves. Some call makeup hiding, but some call it enhancing. If you don’t like it, don’t read it.

As for me, when I do make the (occasional) trip to the gym, it’s usually with whatever’s on my face at the time (I hardly wear foundation, so I’m not really worried about clogging). My hair, however, is a different story.

I’ve tried not to wear my hair in a ponytail for the past 3 years. I rarely ever do, and if so, it’s always so lose that what starts off at the crown ends up at the nape after about 5 minutes of walking. And yet the people at the salon always tell me I’m wearing my ponytail too tight!

I’ve found that for my really easily damaged (but not particularly dry) hair, a french braid works really well to hold everything back off my face. For those who don’t shower after the gym (I could never – my motto is if you’re not sweating bullets, why pay for the gym pass?) maybe it could even add some texture?


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, May 3/2012 at 5:23 pm

I have the same problem with my ponytail – it’s so wimpy and can slide out of my elastic. I find the clear elastic bands work a lot better for me than the covered black ones. (Although they are worse for the hair – can snag.)

I am TERRIBLE at French braiding (any kind of braiding really) but I love that idea…


Nana Jacobs
Tuesday, April 9/2013 at 5:33 pm

Hi, i just started going to gym since 2 weeks ago. In the morning before leaving my house, i will wash my face and after that put moisturizer. After my gym, i will go back and shower. Again i wash my face and put the moisturizer. But i realized that it seem to have a lot of clogs which i don understand so just hope you can give me some advice.



Monday, July 15/2013 at 6:06 am

Im instructor of spinning,I attend my classes at 5.30 in the morning again at 1.00pm and 5.30 in evening so i dont know if its good to my skin to wash it three times a per day or more than that.


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