War Paint: Makeup Tough Enough for the CrossFit Open

Makeup in the gym? You betcha.

You might be shocked I’m writing this post. Everyone has strong opinions on makeup in the gym. I hear quips all the time along these lines…

  • I can’t wear lipstick or else people won’t think I’m there to get seriously strong.
  • You know, those types of girls that wear a FULL FACE to the gym… clearly just looking for dudes!
  • I would rather die than have people see me without mascara, so I’m wearing at least that at all times, including the locker room shower. 

My opinion is this: Mind yo’ own business and get back to lifting.

You don’t know if the lady with a full face on has cystic acne she’s desperately trying to cover up. (I’ve been there!)

Maybe the person with a full-on contour and impossibly amazing eyebrows works at a MAC counter and is taking a precious hour in the gym before moonlighting as a bartender.

Maybe that perpetually bare-faced soccer mom is just saving up her sexy eye makeup skills for a week in Cancun with her husband on their 10th wedding anniversary.

Personally, I love the gym. I love makeup. I love not wearing makeup. And those things combine in different percentages on different days. I believe in wearing bright red lipstick when you want to deadlift very heavy. I also get a thrill from rolling out of bed, not looking in a mirror, and going straight to the gym and when people me you they kind of internally scream for a second because they’re not used to seeing me looking like Charlize Theron in Monster.

Most of all, I believe in people doing hard work, and what’s adorning their faces and bodies is inconsequential. Imagine that.

I Came Here for the Makeup

Right, yes, sorry. All the above points made, I usually wear makeup during the CrossFit Open, and it’s purely because it feels like war paint. It’s part of my prep for competition mindset.

Alas, not all products are made equal. I’m interested only in the intersection between a beautiful product that also has the brawn to stay on my face. I judge all makeup by its ability to withstand impossible circumstances:

  • CrossFit WODs in an open-air warehouse in Florida.
  • Not irritating my acne-prone, impossible-to-please combination skin, clogging pores, or creating breakouts.
  • My incredibly high expectations and willingness to return shit products.

If I don’t get to be a wimp, my makeup doesn’t either.


Photo credit: Sephora.com

Milk Makeup Eye Pigment

I haven’t even attempted to wear an eyeshadow without primer since I was in high school. It’s just not even an option for my oily eyelids. And now that I’m in my 30s, my lids have started to do the aging thing that eyelids tend to do.

But this stuff. This stuff has balls. 

I take a tiny bit of the Eye Pigment and tap on gently with my fingertips. I can go through a CrossFit WOD, power flow yoga, full day of coaching, and at the end of the day the rest of me is looking pretty haggard, but this stuff is sitting on my eyelids, creaseless.

I wear the color “Gig”, but Milk Makeup won’t be seeing the last of me, because now I need more colors. The product is buildable from sheer to extremely bold. The amount of product needed is very little, so I count on the tube lasting a good while.

Power Brows

There’s something about a strong brow that makes me feel like I could be a high-powered executive on Wall Street, win a powerlifting meet, and broker world peace. But for many of us, good brows are a giant pain. They tend to make a disappearing act by the end of the day, or spread all over one’s face by the end of a tough workout.

Last year I had my über-blonde eyebrows microbladed by Cece Nuñez of Salon Sardis, which made a massive difference in the amount of upkeep I have to do. They’re still pretty natural looking by design, so if I want to go all-in on the bold, I use a combination of the following:

  1. Anastasia Beverly Hills DIPBROW Pomade & ABH Brush #20. You can get natural definition, or pile it on for serious Scouse Brow style. Choose wisely.
  2. Glossier Boy Brow.  If you’re up for fluffy, natural brows, this stuff lives up to the hype.

Either product can be used alone, but I usually put on a little bit of the ABH DIPBROW, and then seal it in with the Glossier Boy Brow. Together they’re on lock.

(For the record, my absolute favorite brow product is Benefit Cosmetics Gimme Brow, but it’s currently recalled and I’m not sure when it will be back. It has more of a “fiber-y” dry texture than Boy Brow.)

Power brows are now set for action. Bring it on, Dave Castro!

clinique lash power mascara long wearing formula review
Photo: Clinique

Clinique Lash Power Mascara

I used to work for Clinique back in my college days, and that’s when this mascara was released. I have transparent lab rat eyelashes, so a good mascara is pretty clutch for me. I also tend to get red, irritated stoner eyes if a formula flakes, or is super harsh.

This formula is unique. It’s not technically “waterproof” by definition, but it does last through copious amounts of sweat, dips in the ocean, etc. Not even Lancôme’s famous Bi Facil makeup remover will take it off. It removes only with warm water and gentle pressure, sliding off in little tubes. It’s a conundrum, I know, but you have to trust me.

It’s buildable and the smallish brush manages to pump up even your wimpiest little lashes to their max. Work fast, because once it’s dry, it’s impossible to layer without looking spidery.


If I’m feeling like I need some instant fierceness, I turn to a bold eyeliner.

You can’t use just any ol’ liner, because most of them are absolute crap and have a hard time staying put even under the best of circumstances. And I like to, you know, blink every once in a while.

My favorite WOD-proof eyeliners are


If I’m having a great skin day, I use Clinique Super City Block™ Oil-Free Daily Face Protector Broad Spectrum SPF 40. This is tinted, so it will provide a little coverage. I actually feel like it helps control my oil, but you can always top with a touch of powder if you wanna fight the shine. The super huge downside is that it’s too tinted for people who aren’t basically my exact color. If you’re one of my darker ladies, Clinique does have an SPF 25 version that is not tinted, and is also great. Both formulas are Opthalmologist approved for use around the eyes, which is a no-brainer if you’re trying to stave off crow’s feet. And both formulas are awesome primers for whatever goes on top.

If I need more coverage, I use IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream with SPF 50+. It’s also pretty moisturizing, so I lean towards this formula during the cold months when my skin gets drier and angsty. The coverage is real. You do NOT need a lot of it, and you can sheer it out if you need less opacity. I always get compliments when I wear this, which is an oddity with my skin.

For concealer, Clinique Advanced Concealer is one of the most underrated zit-covering formulas out there. It is a drier concealer with very little “slip”, making it great for angry skin. Super pigmented. A tube lasts me well over a year. The drawback here is the color range, which is stupid small. Under my eyes, I use Lancôme Effacernes Waterproof Protective Undereye Concealer, the only thing I’ve found that won’t slide off, crease, get overly dry, etc.

If I need some color and I’m not in the mood to dig out brushes and be a lady, I turn to things I can smush into my face with my fingers:

I always top with a dusting of Dior’s Diorskin Forever & Ever Control Invisible Loose Setting Powder. (The whole Forever & Ever line is AMAZING for oily skin but I’ll save that for another post.)


I’m a big fan of wearing a lip lewk when you want to give yourself superpowers. Hell, I put on lipstick when I’m working from home and need to Get Shit Done. The only one the wiser is my dog, and tragically, she can’t see in color.

Listen, if you’re going to wear a lip when you’re sweating like crazy, and sucking air, you’re gonna need to take some measures.

  1. Put on chapstick, then blot. Your lips will appreciate the moisture, and I swear it makes oxygen pass through your piehole faster. (Athletic tip!)
  2. You need to use a liner. The best one I’ve found so far is Kat Von D Everlasting Lip Liner. It’s not overly drying. It’s retractable. It lasts like crazy. The shade range is  unparalleled. They’ve got green, for crying out loud.
  3. From there, choose your lipstick carefully. I own numerous shades of Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick, and they’re very comfortable to wear. They’re satin finish, so it gives a touch of moisture, but it’s not gonna slide off quickly.

I wouldn’t even bother with gloss, personally. That’s gonna be err’where the first time you wipe your sweat on your shirt.

Now That Your Face is On… Relax

Remember Your Makeup Face ≠ Your Game Face.

There’s no mascara on Earth that is going to make you snatch 150% bodyweight. (Trust, I’ve looked.) Mascara streaming down your face is a badge of hard work, not something to be ashamed of. Hair is expected to look crazy after competing hard. Having your zits show will not ruin your workout unless you let it.

Makeup can be awesome, transformative, and empowering. It’s also entirely optional. So whether you’re doing your Open WODs fresh faced and glowing, or contoured like a Kardashian, don’t let your mind obsess about how you’re going to look on Instagram afterwards. (Newsflash: Probably like you’re suffering. A lot.)

Keep your mind in the moment, trust your preparation, and you’re going to crush the CrossFit Open. Good luck, my friends!

Lindsay Alvestad at CrossFit 9 St Pete FL Art and Animal Blog
CrossFit Open 18.1 Photo Courtesy of Sue Byrne




2 thoughts on “War Paint: Makeup Tough Enough for the CrossFit Open

  1. I agree! And I myself am guilty on several counts when it comes to wearing make up. First of all, I wear it everywhere, all the time. I wear make up at work, in the mall and at home even if I was just gonna wash the dishes and do the laundry. The only time I ever take it off is when I’m about to go to bed, but since I just use a facial cleanser and not wash my face, I get to keep my mascara and brows on, then put on moisturizer and will definitely swipe a little lip tint for color and top it off with lip balm before I finally hit the sack. I know some people might think it weird but I am happy with the way my face looks when I wake up in the morning. And that’s the important thing.

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