News & Politics

Summer Beauty: The Best No-Sweat Makeup

Mascara, foundation, eye shadow, and other beauty products that won’t melt in the summer heat.

Photograph by Michael Kraus.

I don’t sweat what I look like at the gym because I sweat so
much anyway. My propensity toward perspiring—and my oily skin’s tendency
to eat up makeup five seconds after I put it on—means I’ve never
considered wearing makeup to the gym. But for the past two months I’ve run
sprints, done pushups, wobbled on a surfboard, and taken a 90-minute yoga
boot camp in a 100-degree room—all with a full face of makeup. I tried
more than 100 products in all—primer, foundation, eyeliner, shadow,
mascara, and lipstick.

The works, you might say, so I could test which “melt-free”
makeup works—because if a product stays on through my workout, chances are
it won’t drip or smudge on you during Washington’s heat and humidity. (Or,
of course, your own workout.)

Here’s what I found: Unlike most foundation, this stuff does
what it says.

I tried cat’s eyes and smoky eyes and pretty much every makeup
tip I’ve ever read, reasoning that if I’m going to be a hot mess—and if
it’s all going to slide off anyway—I might as well revel in the
ridiculousness. But apart from the comedy of sporting cat’s eyes at an 8
am spin class, my makeup stayed where I put it.

The expensive products didn’t necessarily work better than the
cheap ones, but they sometimes felt better. Most of the primers and
foundations made me feel as if I were wearing a facial mask made of papier
mâché—and within minutes my towel was wearing more foundation than I was.
Stila Smudge Stick Waterproof Eyeliner made my eyes feel on the verge of
tears. Ditto Neat 3B Face Saver Gel, a facial “antiperspirant” to which I
lost a contact lens after this stuff ended up in my eyes when I got
sweaty. (So no, it didn’t work.)

Some of My Favorite Melt-Free Products

1. Clé de Peau Beauté Concealer

I’m not one to spend $70 on concealer I’m pretty sure is
overhyped. I tried this one almost by accident, hitting the makeup counter
when I was out shopping, then catching a cardio sculpt class. It made my
skin look like a better, airbrushed version of itself. To avoid a cakey
finish, use your finger to apply it over moisturizer, then set with
powder. $70,

2. Giorgio Armani Lasting Silk UV Foundation

According to the company, this is designed to handle “extreme”
conditions such as hot camera lights. It was the only one I tried that
stuck by me—and without feeling like glue. I don’t plan on ever wearing
foundation at the gym again, but I’ll be trying this on a hot summer day
when I need the coverage. $59,

3. Make Up for Ever HD Microfinish Powder

This loose, fine-milled translucent powder gave my skin a
lovely, natural finish—once I figured out how to use it. Makeup artist’s
tip: Pour a tiny amount into the cap and work your brush into it. If you
can see gobs on the brush, you’re using too much. $32,

4. Make Up for Ever Aqua Cream

I tried this eye shadow—some shades of which double as cheek
and lip color—because it’s the pick of the Aqualillies, the glamorous
synchronized swimmers who are LA’s pool-party-of-the-moment entertainment
(Glee, Justin Timberlake’s surprise party). I didn’t care for it as a
cheek and lip color, but it looked and felt gorgeous as a shadow. As for
its staying power, they’re not kidding about the brand name—and I liked it
so much I might use it, um, forever. $23,

5. Urban Decay 24/7 Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

Not the easiest to apply—the brush takes practice to control,
and I only discovered thanks to Google that you need to shake it first. My
reward: some of the richest, most playful colors I’ve seen, including
shimmering golds, purples, and greens. There are also the more
office-appropriate black and navy. $19,

6. Stila Long Wear Liquid Lip Color

Most of the 14- and 16-hour lipstick claims didn’t pan out—my
gym towel fast looked like the pillowcase of a 12-year-old girl practicing
kissing. Stila’s lip color makes no crazy promises, yet it appears able to
outlast any marathon. One note: The color looks glossy when you apply it
but dries matte. $22,

7. Blinc Mascara

Every makeup artist in the world seems to swear by Maybelline
mascara for a “budget beauty buy.” But it does not work for me. Blinc does
because it surrounds lashes in tiny individual tubes that don’t budge.
(You’ll see the little tubes as they come off, but only when you apply
remover.) $26,

And finally: How to take off makeup that no amount of sweat

I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit I’ve found a way to remove it
in my kitchen. Nothing, including my beloved Shu Uemura cleansing oil,
worked as well as plain coconut oil.

Courtney Rubin, a former Washingtonian senior writer who now lives in New York, writes for the New York Times, Self, O, and other publications. You can follow her on Twitter at @courtneybrubin.

This article appears in the July 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.