Sporteluxe Sweat-Tested: The Best Workout-Friendly Makeup Brands

Editor-approved beauty buys that will outlast your next sweat session.

workout-friendly makeup
via Istock

We’re all about rocking bare skin as often as possible—especially after a sweat session that leaves us with a dewy complexion and rosy cheeks.

But sometimes we need a little boost from cosmetics to enhance our natural beauty. Early morning workouts just seem a tiny bit more bearable with a touch of lip color, and a swipe of mascara is almost as good as a cup of coffee for helping you look (and feel) more awake. And hey, when you look good, you feel more confident—and more likely to rock your workout.

But before you turn to your favorite tried-and-true makeup brands, consider this: Many conventional cosmetics brands use toxic ingredients like parabens and phthalates that can disrupt hormones, trigger inflammation and acne, and have even been linked to cancer. And if you’re sweating with all that junk on your skin, odds are pretty good you’re going to absorb some nastiness into your body. Not good.

Solution? Go all-natural. Organic and “green” beauty brands have evolved so much in the past five years. Gone are the patchouli-scented, mineral-based formulas that barely worked; now luxe brands like RMS Beauty, Vapour, and Plume are proof-positive that organic products can work just as well, if not better, than their conventional counterparts without causing breakouts or leeching toxins into your body.

In fact, there are some natural brands that focus specifically on makeup that’s made for athletes. Score! We sweat-tested four workout-friendly makeup brands to see if they held up to our rigorous workout schedules—here’s what happened.

Here’s our list of 3 workout-friendly makeup brands

1. Rae Cosmetics

via Rae

Started by a makeup artist who was tired of seeing her sensitive skin breakout after using heavy, conventional makeup, Rae Cosmetics is completely hypoallergenic, oil-free, and mineral-based. Rochelle Rae, the founder and CEO, set out to create long-lasting products that held up to heat and humidity (Rae Cosmetics was founded in Austin, Texas). Sounds perfect for a sweat-drenched workout class, right?

I tried the Climate Control Mineral Tint (a tinted SPF moisturizer), the Mineral Powder, and the Lush Silk Mascara. Typically I can’t stand wearing a foundation or powder for a workout, but the mineral tint melted into my skin and disguised the discoloration I’d usually mask with concealer. It felt moisturizing without being oily, and stayed surprisingly well over my five-mile run despite the fact that temperatures were in the triple digits. The mascara also seemed to stay put, but didn’t give me the same lift-and-plump effect that my favorite brand usually does.

Shop Rae Cosmetics here.

2. Thrive Causemetics

via Thrive Causemetics

First, big ups to Thrive Causemetics for creating an entire line of products that are predominately vegan and totally cruelty-free, as well as paraben-, sulfate-, and latex free. That’s definitely not easy! Even more importantly, though, for every product purchased they donate the same product to a woman battling cancer. Look beautiful and give back? Sounds like a win-win. 

I tried their Infinity Waterproof Brow Liner, Infinity Waterproof Eye Liner, Triple Threat Color Stick, and Glossy Lip Mark. The brow liner sold me—my brows remained in a perfect Kardashian-like arch for an entire high-intensity class. The Triple Threat Color Stick, which came in that perfect baby pink that you just need a dab of to brighten your whole face, seemed to fade as my cheeks progressively got became more flushed. Unfortunately, the long-lasting lipstick was a bit too dark for my taste (but outlasted an entire post-workout sushi dinner, which is a plus in my book!) and by the end of my session I had rivulets of black eye liner running down my face. Not my best look, but I do think the liner would be great for a slightly less sweaty class—think yoga or Pilates.

Shop Thrive Causemetics here.

3. K-Sport Beauty

via Katherine Cosmetics

A division of the gluten-free, paraben-free company Katherine Cosmetics, K-Sport was developed as a line specifically made for working out. Their mini-sized K-Sport offerings include an all-in-one SPF WOW Stick and Lip Protection Gloss, but because I’m not really a lip gloss girl (I can’t get past the aforementioned hair-sticking situation) I also tried out their eyeliner and Everyday Mascara. The SPF stick comes in just one skin tone, and didn’t seem to match my complexion well. It also felt a bit goopy, like I was rubbing a glue stick on my skin. However, the mascara/eyeliner combo worked great! Highly recommend for any high-sweat activity, because I came out of my spin class looking fresh and Instagram-ready.

Shop K-Sport Beauty here.

The verdict

I liked aspects of all of these brands: I’ve been using the Rae Cosmetics SPF moisturizer daily (regardless of whether I’m working out or not), and I’m hooked on wearing Thrive Causemetics eyeliner when I go out because of its silky application and deep kohl color. And K-Sport’s Everyday Mascara might get added into my regular lash rotation. Bottom line: All-natural products are far better for you than conventional beauty products. As long as you choose brands that use organic, green materials, you’ll be glowing no matter what!