When I was in high school, my sworn enemies were the runners who showed up to my cross-country meets with multicolored ribbons woven in their hair, cat-lined eyes, and glitter on their cheeks. Those were the runners I had to beat. Why get all dolled up? We were there to compete—not look pretty. It drove me, with my bumpy ponytail and makeup-free face, totally mad.
But once I got to college, where I continued to race, all that changed. After discovering the magic of the hair straightener, I slowly came around to doing my hair before my meets. And if I was going to all that trouble, why not brush on a little waterproof mascara, and cover up dark circles, and a few acne spots, too?
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When I looked in the mirror before my runs I felt ready and confident. In fact, I ran some of my best races with makeup. And while I don’t think makeup has special voodoo powers or that there’s anything wrong with going without, I always think of this when people scorn women wearing a full face of makeup in the weight room or on the treadmill. I mean, if it makes you feel good, who cares?
Turns out professional athletes—including U.S. national soccer team member and world champion Sydney Leroux —agree with me.
“Some people are against [wearing makeup], I am not,” said Leroux, when I spoke with her at a recent Neutrogena sunscreen event. “We have this thing on our team, a few of the makeup-wearing girls: ‘Look good, play good, you know, feel good,’ and I think that that’s such a cool thing.”
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“If you go to they gym, and you’re like, ‘You know what, I feel good right now!’ You’re going to work harder, you’re going to push further,” she added. “I think that makeup is a way to express yourself just like tattoos, or however. It’s an art to me, and I love that.”
And contrary to popular belief, it’s not a given that wearing makeup to sweat will wreck your skin. “The problem with foundation is if you sweat it can clog your pores,” says New York-based derm Debra Jaliman, MD, author of Skin Rules. “But a little concealer and mascara won’t hurt.”
Currently, I’m training for the Chicago marathon, and while I don’t wear a ton of makeup on my long runs, I plan on giving my eyelashes a curl on race day. Goodness knows I’ll be tired when I arrive at Millennium Park at 6 a.m. And if I feel like I want mascara, too, I won’t think twice about it.
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