Woman wearing makeup while rock climbing

Can I wear makeup while rock climbing?

With more and more women getting into climbing, I felt I needed to address my fellow rock-climbing sisters about a topic that I’m just as passionate about as I am the crag… makeup! I don’t see why you’d have to give up one for the other. You don’t! If you love wearing makeup, then there should be no reason why you can’t wear it while climbing.

Before I began climbing, I’d always wear it to the gym. I’d do my cardio with my makeup on. I’d lift weights with my makeup on. I’d even go swimming with it on, waterproof of course. It’s not that I dislike the way I look without makeup. I just feel more smoothed over, polished, and confident and don’t you think you should do what makes you comfortable?

When it comes to climbing, confidence is everything as I’ve found. And while up on the crag maybe no one will notice it from down below, I am the one that notices. I do it for myself. That’s what it all boils down to.

Now, if you don’t ever wear makeup, maybe trying out new looks at the crag isn’t the best idea. But if you live for the latest Makeup and skincare products, then you don’t need to give that up just because you’ve got a rough and tumble side alongside your sassier, girlier side.  

Should you wear makeup while climbing?

Yes! Yes! One thousand times, yes! If you’re used to wearing makeup on the regular, there’s no reason why you need to strip down to a bare face just for climbing. Some argue that no one is going to see your efforts, but those people just don’t realize that most women wear makeup for themselves.

If my face happens to look glowing and flawless when I wake up, I don’t use a full-coverage foundation. I use a tinted BB cream with sunscreen, like the Clinique Acne Solutions BB Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 40. It’s all about how I feel and my makeup routine changes with my moods. Why shouldn’t I feel pretty when I climb? I feel strong and beautiful all at once, and I love that powerful feeling, don’t you?

I deliberately choose practical but cute climbing underwear and attire. No one thinks that’s strange, more on that in this post I wrote, so makeup shouldn’t be an odd choice either if you’re used to wearing it.

That being said though, there are some things you should know about wearing makeup while climbing. Keep reading to get the full scoop!

Less makeup is more when you’re climbing

If you wear makeup to the gym like I do for a regular workout, then chances are, you’re not showing up for sets with a full-on smoky eye look. That’s just too much. Keeping things light and fresh is always the way to go, whether you’re going for that yoga class, practicing on the climbing wall, or out on the crag.

Just like you wouldn’t show up to work looking like you’re ready to party all night at the newest club in town, you don’t show up to climbing looking like you should be wearing a mini-dress instead of a harness. If you tend to wear a lot of makeup, more power to you. Though I will say it’s a lot more comfortable taking it down a notch.

Remember, you’ll be sweating up on the crag which can account for smearing if you’re not using waterproof products. Plus, it can feel heavy. You want to look good but you also want to be comfortable.

Another thing to be aware of is that when you go too heavy with the makeup and start getting sweaty, that leads to more debris getting lodged in your pores. And you know what that means, right? Breakouts! There’s nothing worse than getting a breakout from wearing the wrong kind of makeup while exercising or climbing and then having to try to figure out how to cover it up before a hot date.

As someone who has lived most of her life in a relatively hot climate, I’ve learned how to maximize my comfort when wearing makeup while accentuating my favorite facial features. This trick has given me loads of confidence in how I look as well as kept me comfortable everywhere I go from meeting my friends on the crag to a day at the beach.

So, less makeup while climbing is a good thing. But there’s something that can cause more harm than any of your makeup products combined. Keep reading to find out what!

Dirty hands are the real enemy

You’re on top of the crag. The world is glorious! What a view! And you wipe the sweat off your face with your hand. You’re wearing waterproof makeup for the win, but what you don’t realize is that nonchalant move with your hand just slathered your face in dirt and germs.

How do your hands look when you’re climbing? Yes, like they badly need a manicure! They’re gritty and gross, like one of those zombies from the old “Thriller” video climbing out of the grave. Basically what I’m getting at here is that your fingers and hands are filthy with dirt, debris, microbes, oh and climbing chalk mixed with a lot of sweat. When you touch your face, all of the gunk on your hands will get into your pores.

Queasy yet? Well, not to worry! I’ve got tips for you on how to get a cool, comfortable makeup and skincare routine that will have you looking as beautiful on the ground as up on the crag.

Go for tinted SPF to replace your foundation

With the sun as strong as it is, it’s foolish to leave your house without SPF. Even if you’re just running errands, damaging UV rays can destroy your skin cells and age you much faster. I never leave the house without SPF on, even on my days of full-coverage makeup.

But when I’m climbing, I like to wear something that feels lightweight and non-greasy. I like having a fresh-faced feeling with enough coverage to keep my complexion looking on-point. And of course, I want my sun protection. So, I choose Colorescience Brush-On Sunscreen, to give me that smoothed, refined look while providing SPF protection. It gives me a light tinted coverage that never feels heavy and it’s also easy to use for touchups without smudging.

When choosing tinted SPF, it’s important to know your skin type. That’s a factor in everything you use for your skin from makeup to skincare, and anywhere you wear it, not just up on the rock. So, how’s your skin?

For oily skin, if you tend to breakout a lot too, you need to choose something non-comedogenic and oil-free. It should deliver hydration but without leaving a greasy feeling behind. Remember that over-drying your skin can cause it to breakout too. Normal skin tends to get off relatively easy. You can use just about anything with a tint and SPF to it, though I really like the aforementioned Clinique Acne Solutions BB Cream  because it feels so effortlessly comfortable on your skin. Most skin types will respond to it well too.

And for dry skin, you’ll want something that helps seal in hydration while offering you that SPF and tint you need. Try Neutrogena’s tinted sunscreen because it captures all of those and leaves your face feeling amazing even with the winds and dirt whipping at it from the crag.

Use waterproof mascara

This point might seem obvious. Especially if you’ve ever shown up to the gym in regular mascara and looked up after a sweat session to see yourself looking like Courtney Love back in her Hole days. If gothy-grunge isn’t the look you’re going for, make sure you use your waterproof mascara for climbing.

It stays put and adds that beautiful eye-popping flair. Plus, it looks more natural than say emphasizing your eyes with gobs of eye shadow. I have always had great experiences with La Roche-Posay Respectissime for my waterproof mascara. It doesn’t feel cakey or give me spider-eyes (yuck!). I also like to use it when I go see sappy movies, one of my other favorite things. It never lets me down and it removes easily with makeup remover.

Another tip I’d like to add about mascara here is that using a brown tint is best for lighter-haired ladies. It just looks more natural. So it adds the emphasis you want without looking too try-hard-ish. Clinique High Impact Waterproof Mascara makes it in brown too, so give it a try!

Use colored lip balm

A nice hint of color to your lips is always nice when you climb. It gives you that feminine mystique you want without looking overdone at the rock. Plus, it nourishes with vitamins and minerals to keep your lips soft, sultry, and supple. Out in the elements, having your lips feeling comfortable and chap-free is a must, so why not add a bit of color to them?

One thing you absolutely must avoid while climbing is matte lipstick. For one, it will smudge and you’ll look like a freak in any photos your friends snap of you. For another, they can be incredibly drying. Dry lips up at higher altitudes are just so uncomfortable. Don’t go there, please. I like Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Tinted Lip Balm for giving me a nice touch of color while keeping my lips feeling soft, smooth, and hydrated. It comes in several different colors of tint too so you can pick your favorite!

Waterproof your brows too

If you have thinning brows, part of your routine, like mine, might be to pencil them in. This looks great unless you’re on the crag. At the gym, I can get away with it. But out in the wild, I just wind up looking wild and worn.

With my helmet and all the sweating, my brows smudge and then I look like a hot mess. Instead, I’ve taken to using waterproof brow gel to add more volume to my brows and create a symmetric look to my face. No more missing brows by the end of a long climb. I still look as good as I did when I left the house. Wunderbrow is pretty much a no-brainer for this. Be sure you obey regular brow-filling rules and choose a color that is just lighter than the shade of your hair color. Unless you’re blonde, in which case you’ll go just a tad darker.

That’s really about all the makeup you’ll need on a climb to have a fresh-faced look you can feel confident in. But there’s something else you must make sure to have in place for when you get home. Read on to learn more!

Don’t forget your cleansing routine after your climb

I just want to say this…even if you wear no makeup at all, you really should have a strict skincare regimen that you always follow, morning and night, and especially after getting all sweaty while climbing. But it’s extra important when you’re wearing makeup, even if you’ve used a lighter base.

Choosing the right cleanser for your skin is one of the most important aspects of skincare. You should choose something suited for your skin type, something that addresses the unique needs of your skin. Your best friend might love her cleanser for dry skin, but if your skin is oily, you’ll have to find your own.

Never, ever choose bar soap to cleanse. It contains drying ingredients that leave it parched deep down. I’d say only in an absolute emergency should you ever use it, like you’re on an overnight and you need to take off your makeup, but even then, I’d recommend taking along makeup-removing wipes like these by Neutrogena.

If you have oily skin, choose a cleanser that’s formulated for your skin needs. Dry skin needs a cleanser that delivers more hydration, like through hyaluronic acid, which can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in moisture. Normal skin again has many other choices, but the one thing every skin type should be cautious of is using anything with sulfates. Need some suggestions? Here are some sulphate-free brands that I like for cleansing.

After climbing or at night before bed, make sure you never forgo taking off your makeup first. A makeup remover that doesn’t have alcohol and doesn’t force you to scrub off your eyelashes, damaging the hair follicles and making your lash line look anemic is a wise choice, like these cute Acure towelettes on Amazon, which are not only sulfate free but also don’t contain any phthalate, paraben, mineral oils, silicon and are ALSO cruelty free, which in my book is a huge plus. You might be tired, but you’ll thank yourself in another 20 to 30 years when you still look mint-condition because you took care of your skin.

Once you remove makeup, then cleanse away. As you’re cleansing, massage the cleanser into your skin for 60 seconds using a gentle circular motion. This will stimulate the blood flow to the surface and help promote collagen production.

Follow cleansing up with an immediate hit of moisturization. I love using a serum, especially at night, to help keep me looking as young as I feel. After serum, I follow with a rich cream to deliver nourishment to all the layers of my skin and then I hit the hay. I find after an intensive climb, I need even more beauty sleep.

Using the right products for my skin coupled with drinking lots of water, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and getting my sleep after a rigorous climb make me look my absolute best.

Oh! And one last thing – twice a week, make sure you use a gentle exfoliant and once a week, kick back with some relaxing music and a mud or sheet mask to really replenish your skin so it looks rockin’ from atop that rock!

Final Thoughts

When it comes to wearing makeup while climbing, do what makes you feel good and strong. If you adore shopping for makeup and skincare products just like me, then I’m here to tell you go for it. Make yourself feel as beautiful, confident, and strong as you are. Though do it right. This isn’t the time to bust out that new eyeshadow palette! Save that look for the hot date you scored.

For your climbing makeup, think simple, long-lasting, lightweight, SPF protection, waterproof, and natural. It will give you just the right boost of beauty so you can merge your 2 favorite worlds of climbing and style all in one.

If you want more well-researched beauty-related posts, check out the uponbeauty blog.


Attention: You have to take care of your own safety and health when climbing. The information on www.expertclimbers.com only serves for learning and entertainment purposes. Before climbing, make sure you have been properly instructed by an expert and adhere to all safety precautions. This site is owned and operated by Mohamed Foued Ben Slama, Mohamed Foued Ben Slama is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for websites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Comments are closed.