There are times when people use makeup to look glamorous or for artistic expression: for pictures, an important presentation, a date—and according to some makeup companies…the gym?
Recently, big-name cosmetic companies have advertised “active makeup” featuring sweat-resistant, long-lasting and “gym-worthy” wearability.
CoverGirl, Elf and Estée Lauder have all launched products designed for hitting the gym. They feature smudge-proof ingredients and a compact design ideal for a gym bag.
In a CoverGirl advertisement, professional trainer Massy Arias does an intense workout while sporting a full face of makeup. She concludes with, “What? You don’t wear makeup to work?”
However, consumers have mixed feelings on this approach, leaving some feeling like it enforces an unrealistic expectation—especially for women—to look picture-perfect while exercising.
In a questionnaire sampling at Lee University's DeVos Recreation Center, most people said they do not put on makeup to go to the gym or will only wear it if they already had it on. Only 5 percent of the people polled said they specifically put on makeup for the gym.
Senior nursing major Samantha Childress and senior psychology major Sabrina Childress are twin sisters at Lee. Even though they look alike, they feel differently about the intersection of glamour and exercising.
“It will definitely add the expectation to wear makeup everywhere you go, including the gym, where it shouldn't matter whatsoever,” Sabrina Childress said. “It will send a message to young girls' minds saying that it is normal to wear makeup at the gym and that that's how it should be.”
Sabrina believes the gym can already be an intimidating place for girls. In the era of social media and inevitable comparisons, she feels adding the expectation of makeup is unnecessary and that these initiatives just add to the insecurity girls may already be feeling about how they look.
“When watching that [CoverGirl] video, it just made me feel bad that I don't wear makeup every single second of the day every day,” Sabrina said. “I don't know why people can't be fixated on natural beauty anymore.”
Both Childress sisters have been playing rugby for the past nine years and currently play on the Lee women’s rugby team. Samantha chooses to wear makeup when practicing or playing in a game, whereas Sabrina does not.
“I just wear it when I go out because I feel like I look better with it,” Samantha Childress said. “I feel confident at the gym and on the field.”
Sometimes, makeup can even give athletes a boost for media coverage and endorsements.
In a recent Wall Street Journal article, former U.S. Olympic soccer player Leslie Osborne discussed how she and four teammates created Sweat Cosmetics, a brand of makeup aiming to provide durable makeup options, with sunscreen as an ingredient.
“We wanted to look good,” Osborne said. “How come there weren’t products out there—maybe some lip gloss, some foundation—that protect us from the sun but also make us look good?”
Jane Lauder, president of Clinique, explained in the same article that these makeup products aren’t about forcing gym expectations on women. Rather, it’s giving them the chance to wear makeup that suits the gym if they desire.
“It’s not about telling them what to do,” Lauder said. “It’s giving them options.”