When I ran my first obstacle course race, I envisioned crossing the finish line triumphantly, a big smile on my face, glowing with the joy of achievement. In reality, it was a sweaty and humid unseasonably warm day, but in my race photos I look great. My secret? I ran in a full face of makeup.
When I’m not running races, I’m a senior hair designer and makeup artist at a busy salon. I’m known for my bold style and love experimenting with new makeup looks. On race day I want to be the superhero version of myself, and that means bringing my signature style to the course.
As I turn 30, most of my big life moments are behind me. I’ve already done the graduation, wedding and new baby photos, so now the big moments and photo ops in my life are ones I create for myself. I’ve run several distance races in full makeup, and the photos above are from my first obstacle course race. It might be vain, but after months of training for the Spartan Sprint and a hefty entry fee, I’m willing to put in a little extra effort to go home with a few great pictures to go with my medal.
Plan to Look Good From a Distance
Race photos and action shots won’t be close ups. Your race day makeup serves a different purpose than everyday makeup. The goal is to look great from ten feet away, so focus on making your features pop and complexion look even. Make sure your eyebrows don’t disappear on camera and your lips stand out. More product means more things that can slide around, so keep your race day look stripped down and minimise any contouring or highlighting. You will have plenty of glow from the exercise, so you don’t need an artificial one.
What I Wear
Race preparation for something like a Spartan or a marathon takes months of training. After putting in all that effort, I don’t want to take any chances with my race day look. Most of what I wear are prestige cosmetics with formulas engineered to withstand a long day. The bigger price tag really does get you more technology and better ingredients.
My race day face starts with Clinique Fit foundation. It’s got SPF 40, so there’s no need to put on any additional moisturiser. I like this foundation because it’s long wear and full coverage without feeling heavy. Any longwear foundation you like will get the job done as long as it’s a matte finish formula.
Next I fill in my brows with a neutral brown powder. For this race I used a brown eyeshadow, but any powder that matches your brow colour would work. I like powder over pencils or pomades when I’m going to sweat a lot because it doesn’t seem to move around as much. Eyeshadow tends to slide on my lids even with primer, so I didn’t wear any, except a bit of skin toned highlight under my eyebrows.
For that bold eye, Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner is the way to go. It’s the most popular liquid eyeliner out there, and for good reason. It doesn’t budge. I used Tarte Tartiest mascara because it gives a great bold, black lash look.
The trick for a sweat-proof eye is to put eyeliner and mascara on the top eyelashes only. Anything on the bottom lashline is bound to budge. I didn’t bother with a waterproof mascara because I find that as long as I don’t touch it, the Tartiest doesn’t go anywhere.
I love a bold, red lip. Spartan races finish by jumping over fire, so I felt inspired by the NYX Cosmetics Elements fire red. I find that longwear lipstick formulas, especially mattes, are very drying and I end up licking my lips so much they come off, anyway. This lipstick was so comfortable I forgot I was wearing it, which is exactly how lipstick should feel.
Smile for the Camera
Most bigger races have race day photographers stationed around the course to capture your achievement. Your pre-race bulletin will usually include information about whether the race will be photographed and what the photographers will be wearing. When I find them on the course, I always try to make eye contact with them and smile. In places like the finish line they’re often hard to spot, but the joy and relief of the race being over is enough to bring a smile to my face.
Remember That You’re Wearing Makeup
The hardest thing about wearing makeup on race day is remembering I have it on. Longwear formulas are meant to withstand a long day, but will come off with frequent rubbing and touching. For the Spartan race, my headband kept most of the sweat out of my eyes and off my face, and my hands were covered in mud, so it wasn’t too hard to avoid touching my face.
“Waterproof” makeup is not meant to be a promise or a challenge. After all, it’s removable, so it can come off. Keeping water away from your face as much as possible will help ensure you’re still fresh at the finish line, although I did dump a few cups of water on my head to cool down. I’ve run through misting stations during distance races and my makeup has been fine, too.
At the end of the day, races and makeup are both meant to be fun. Wearing a statement lip gives me an extra boost of confidence. When facing 42km or jumping over fire, I’ll take all the confidence I can get!