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Running (except for the makeup)
Running (except for the makeup)

TOKYO — At September's annual RunGirl Night, one 35-year-old exercise enthusiast prepared for the evening group run by applying lipstick, foundation and eye shadow. "I would feel extremely self-conscious if I was around so many other people without makeup on," she said. "After crossing the finish line, I want to look good in group photos, too."

She's not alone. The number of women who wear makeup while exercising is on the rise. So-called sports makeup is becoming increasingly popular, as evident not only from the growing popularity of no-smudge cosmetic products but also from the makeup symposiums held in tandem with running events.

Clearly, there are women sports lovers who want to look beautiful even during and after a sweaty workout.

At RunGirl Night, a number of women listened enthusiastically to lectures about various aspects of sports makeup. "You have to make sure that drawn-on eyebrows don't disappear even after crossing the finish line," one speaker warned. "For blush that goes well with any outfit color, choose apricot."

Kaori Nagai, a hair and makeup artist, is a member of RunGirl, the body that hosts the event. "In the past three or four years, the number of female runners wearing makeup has certainly been increasing," she said, adding that the previous norm among sporty women was to apply sunscreen but no makeup. "Female runners who run to keep in shape are increasingly beauty conscious."

As sportswear too has become more sophisticated and stylish, more women have begun to view makeup as a necessity. "A face without makeup doesn't match such nice sportswear," one woman said. Said another, "I feel like I can look stylish if I match my makeup to my outfit."

Sportswear maker Mizuno Corp., developer of the women's brand Mizuno plusme, even holds popular demonstrations about proper makeup technique at running events.

Makeup that stays

Sports makeup can be bewildering to women accustomed only to more traditional cosmetics. In particular, female athletes worry about sunburn while exercising outdoors and want to prevent makeup from being smudged or removed by sweat. So cosmetics that offer ultraviolet protection and that don't wear off even with water and sweat are especially popular.

For example, cosmetics maker ORBIS Inc. sells a sunscreen powder that can be applied over makeup and an eyebrow coating product that protects eyebrow makeup from sweat. Ballet goods manufacturer Chacott Co. became popular with sports lovers recently after word spread that the company's stage makeup face powder was remarkably resistant to perspiration.

Recent sporting events have included everything from large-scale marathons to bubble runs, unique events in which participants run through a frothy trail of soap bubbles.

"As the number of participants in sporting events has increased, people have become less concerned about the simple act of moving their body and more about looking good while doing so," said Wako Hashimoto, director of the Japan Sports Beauty Association. "It's common to take pictures and selfies during physical activity to share with friends, and an increasingly important aspect of exercise for many people is showing off."

Natural, healthy makeup

Hashimoto says that it's important for sports makeup to look "natural and healthy." Drawing lines that are too strong or wearing loud makeup to outdo brightly colored outfits should be avoided. The model she presented at the RunGirl event wore makeup that gave off a lively, energetic aura.

For makeup resilient to sweat, she recommended liquid foundations, eyebrow mascara and cream blushers.

She also stressed the importance of removing any excess oils on the face with a sponge after applying foundation and taking extra care to apply sunscreen on the hairline and cheekbones, which sunburn easily.

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