Pop quiz: you’re wearing designer leggings, you’re paying $30 for a workout class, and you’re hitting up a girls’ brunch right afterwards. So are you wearing makeup for all that or no?
Beauty brands are betting that you might not want to go completely barefaced for gym selfies. Over the past few years, the athleisure craze has transitioned into a full-blown lifestyle, with $200 leggings sold on the shelf at boutiques next to vitamins and eco-friendly lipgloss. Meanwhile, paparazzi are staking out gyms to catch stars like Gigi Hadid strolling out in sweats, perfect hair, and vampy lipstick (a look Vogue called glamleisure).
No wonder makeup companies are rolling out foundations and lipsticks designed specifically to be worn to the gym, like Birchbox’s Arrrow brand, and Tarte’s aptly-named “athleisure” line. MAC even rolled out a fitness-inspired Work Out collection. Then there are indie beauty brands that are creating their own products built to withstand active lifestyles, including 60-minute sweat sessions. Here are three factors behind the rise of athleisure beauty:
The way we work out has changed. Fitness is a form of entertainment now: it’s not just running on the treadmill in an old college T-shirt anymore. “We used to go to the gym just to go to the gym. Now the gym has a spa in it, it has a coffee shop, it's a whole experience,” says Rochelle Rae, who started her line Rae Cosmetics because she wanted foundation that could withstand Texas’s intense heat and humidity.
Makeup is built for performance. These active beauty brands boast that their products are sweat-resistant enough to make it through the sweatiest Bikram class. “I wanted eyeliner that I could do hot yoga in. That's how Sport Beauty came about,” says Annie Finch, founder of Katherine Cosmetics, the company she launched in 2013 after spending 23 years working at Estée Lauder.
When she first floated the idea of sporty makeup, she got some pushback. “Everyone around me was like, that's a stupid idea. Nobody wears makeup to work out. I was like oh, yeah, we do. We just don't talk about it.” So why not produce makeup that can actually handle working out, she decided.
Similarly, Rae’s Climate Control Mineral Tint SPF 20 moisturizer is water-resistant enough to not get all over your shirt while you sweat, and it won’t clog your pores. And Sweat Cosmetics, a line whose founders include Olympians and professional athletes who wanted long-lasting makeup they could wear for televised games, tests all its products with dermatologists.
It goes along with the “no makeup” trend. Athleisure beauty products are on the low-maintenance end of the spectrum — it’s not full-on contouring. “It's sweatproof, smudgeproof. The whole concept is people look at you and they're just like 'Oh my gosh, you look great,' and they don't know why,” Katherine Cosmetic’s founder Annie says.
At Sweat, the goal is natural beauty as well. “We think very few woman are going 100% makeup free, which is why another big trend is the “no makeup, makeup” look. It’s always made us laugh because it takes a lot of time and a lot of makeup to achieve this “no makeup” look that everyone wants,” Courtney Jones, CEO of Sweat says. “Products like Sweat help women achieve this look of wearing nothing, but at the same time, providing them with small amounts of coverage (and sun protection!) to make them feel a little more comfortable.”
The more I learned about athleisure makeup, the more sense it made. But part of me wondered: in light of the makeup tax, does this mean that there will be no public place that women aren’t expected to wear makeup, if there are beauty products designed just for the gym?
Sweat’s CEO Courtney took this question head-on. “We personally don't think women need to put in more cosmetic effort when going to the gym, and we definitely don't think women should feel like they need to be made up all the time. It’s just not realistic,” she said. “Sweat was created to be versatile, convenient, and beneficial for all skin-types and preferences. In the end our line was designed to perform for any kind of activity beautifully—whether that's running around at the park with your kid, doing yoga or catching up with a friend over a walk.”
I will say: I went to my CorePower Yoga Sculpt class this week wearing Rae’s tinted moisturizer and Katherine's Everyday Eyeliner. When I looked in the mirror after 60 minutes of sweat streaming down my face, nothing had budged. Really! It might’ve been the workout endorphins, but I felt pretty glam.
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