7 Common Workout Beauty Mistakes

Bad habits need to be broken, particularly those of the workout variety, and while a trainer can correct your form, it’s harder to catch beauty mistakes that can wreck your hair and complexion. Here, leading experts weigh in on the common missteps working against you.

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Mistake # 1: Not washing your face before you work out.

Why it’s wrong: “Wiping sweat during exercise grinds any makeup, dirt, debris or oil on the skin into the pores, which causes clogs and acne breakouts,” explains Dr. Neal Schultz, NYC dermatologist and creator of BeautyRx.

Solution: “The best way is to take off make-up and wash your face thoroughly before you exercise so you won’t clog your pores or cause acne breakouts,” he says. Instead of wiping or rubbing, try patting your skin with a clean, soft cloth.

Mistake # 2: Too-tight ponytails

Why it’s wrong: “There’s nothing more irritating than your hair falling out of your ponytail while you’re working up a sweat running, but too much tension can cause breakage,” says Jill Engelsen, senior stylist at Butterfly Studio Salon.

Solution: “Try twisting your hair up into a bun and securing it with a claw-like hair clip that has rubber on the inside to prevent slipping, or use a velvet scrunchie.”

Mistake #3: Using cotton headbands and bandanas to save your blowout

Why it’s wrong: “Cotton can only absorb so much moisture,” says Edward Tricomi, celebrity stylist and co-owner of Warren Tricomi Salons. “Also, holding that much sweat on your hairline is really counterproductive; you’re essentially locking the humidity right onto the hair.”

Solution: “Cut the leg off an old pair of black tights and use it as a headband,” he says. “The nylon wicks sweat away from your hairline and will keep it from saturating your hair. Just remove it immediately afterward, and blast the hairline with a hairdryer to revive your style.” For added lift, spritz with dry shampoo.

Mistake #4: Staying in sweaty workout clothes for hours

Why it’s wrong: “The worst thing you can do post-workout is wait to shower,” cautions Dr. Macrene Alexiaides-Armenakas.“Leaving sweaty, contaminated Lycra garments on your skin will lead to breakouts and infections.” She says bacteria thrive in these damp, hot conditions, and can double in population every 20 minutes.

Solution: “Wear breathable cottons wherever possible, and shower immediately afterwards,” she says. “Use medicated wash or wipes to avoid breakouts, and see your dermatologist if you get a persistent eruption, which may require medical attention.”

Related: Should You Eat Before You Work Out?

Mistake #5: Working out in full makeup

Why it’s wrong: “When you sweat, your pores open up to release bacteria, dirt, and oil,” explains Leyda, an aesthetician at Bliss. “Wearing makeup blocks perspiration, which can clog pores and cause breakouts, even around the eyes.”

Solution: “Make sure to remove your makeup and let your skin breathe at the gym. If you feel any bumps underneath, it’s time to book a facial.”

Mistake #6: Wearing non-waterproof mascara to the gym

Why it’s wrong: “Normal sweat isn’t usually troublesome, but heavy or flaky eye makeup — especially non-waterproof and fibrous mascaras — bring unwanted oils and debris which can cause blurry vision, burning and/or itching,” warns Dr. Susan Resnick.

Solution: Choose a hypoallergenic, waterproof mascara that doesn’t contain fibers to lengthen or thicken,” she says. “Products that boast a curling effect along with a moderately dense applicator brush will keep your lashes defined and lush without the risk of clumping and flaking.”

Related: Does Your Workout Depend on Your Outfit?

Mistake #7: Using too much colored dry shampoo

Why it’s wrong: “This is one of the worst things you can do,” says Devin Toth, stylist at Salon SCK. “Using too much just ensures it will run down your face when you’re sweating, which looks like giant mascara tears running from your hair.”

Solution: Use tinted dry shampoo sparingly—this avoids weighing down the hair, too. “You can also use an invisible formula with a brush for subtle lift at the roots. Or, just wait to use it after you work out.”