The intersection between beauty products, fashion and sport has never been so mainstream. This was evident last year when popular yoga and athletic-apparel brand, Vancouver, Canada-based Lululemon Athletica Inc launched in June (2019) its own athleisure gender-neutral beauty and personal care line (BPC), called ‘lululemon selfcare’.

Comprised of a dry shampoo, deodorant, face moisturiser, lip balm, and more recently, body lotion, the line is sold only in North America and available in gym or travel sizes.  “For over 20 years, lululemon has been focused on solving athletes’ needs. We’ve recognised a gap in the transition point from sweat to life where sweat-related skin and hair problems often arise,” said Sun Choe, lululemon’s chief product officer.

Another brand partnership that made headlines in 2019 was formed by German sports apparel company PUMA and US make-up brand Maybelline New York. They launched last February (2019) a limited-edition BPC range, called the Puma x Maybelline Collection, available only in the US market. The range featured 12 products developed by Maybelline with the latest long-wear technology, including a smudge-proof, long-lasting mascara, a duo highlighter eye stick with matte and metallic shades for a “day-to-night look” and a SuperStay Matte Ink long-wear lip colour in new limited-edition shades.

In the future, we can expect to see more synergies and partnerships like these as a way to further tap into the growing athleisure trend, said Sarirah Hamid, founder of UK-based Pretty Analytics, a beauty trend forecasting and insights agency that monitors qualitative data across a variety of platforms on the web.

The main driver of athleisure beauty is linked to the growing importance of wellness among global consumers – an industry (also including food, fitness, spas, work services, travel, as well as beauty products and more) that is valued at USD4.5 trillion in 2018, according to data from the Global Wellness Institute’s 2019 report, Move To Be Well: The Global Economy of Physical Activity. Athleisure beauty sales have also been bolstered by the USD828 billion ‘physical-activity economy’ (which includes sports and active recreation, fitness, mindful movement, equipment and supplies, apparel and footwear, and technology).

With the fashion, beauty and fitness worlds increasingly intertwined in consumers’ daily routines, brands in the beauty industry have played into the athleisure trend “by branding and marketing exercise-compatible beauty products for active lifestyles and products they can use during and after workouts,” said Pretty Analytics’ 2018 report on Athleisure Beauty, with sweat-proof, multifunctional and portable products leading much of demand, thus far. (

Indeed, market researcher Mintel’s 2017 Global Beauty & Personal Care Trend ‘Active Beauty’ report showed that North American and European women were the most interested in long-lasting makeup during exercise. According to the report, 39% of US women said there were frustrated with products that did not last and 43% of French women who exercised said they would be interested in using make-up that stayed in place during exercise.

Recent data also shows that women in the US and UK are also looking to minimise and speed up skincare routines and the simpler, on-the-go product formats in this trend reflect this. Mintel’s Skincare Ingredient and Format Trends US 2017 report revealed that three in 10 women skincare users in the US were willing to pay more for multipurpose products, such as products with built-in applicators, dual packaging containing multiple products (30% respectively); 69% were interested in waterless facial cleansers; while 81% were keen to add exfoliating wipes to their speedy daily skincare regime.

Furthermore, in its July 2019 UK Women’s Facial Skincare market report, Mintel found that almost three in 10 (28%) British women had reduced the number of products in their facial skincare routine in the last 12 months, with 54% of young Millennials (aged 20-29) most likely to have simplified their routines.

Indeed, Millennials (Generation Y) (born between 1981 and 1996) are the most influential demographic in this trend. According to Global Data’s 2017 Q4 global consumer survey, Millennials are the most actively engaged with the athleisure beauty trend, with more than 37% saying they are interested in and actively buying beauty and grooming products specifically targeted towards fitness and exercise occasions. In the Beauty Outlook for 2019, vice president and industry advisor Larissa Jenson at global market researcher, The NPD Group, said Millennials and following younger generation – Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2012) would continue to be the largest generations of beauty consumers in the next decade and thus their lifestyle demands will be major market drivers. “Wellness and social responsibility are important to them,” she confirmed.

Brands from the mass market to premium segments have tapped into this trend – from Clinique’s CliniqueFIT line, which includes both make-up, such as a sweatproof mascara, a sun protection factor (SPF) 40 foundation and lip and cheek tint, to popular US mass market brand, ‘wet n wild’, which launched in 2019 a 20-product make-up, skin and hair care range for during and post-workouts in gym-bag-friendly, portable sizes.

A major concern among fitness-buffs has been utilising makeup products whose formulations do not block pores. London-based start-up, Skin In Motion, brought to the market in January 2020 a non-comedogenic skincare and makeup range designed specifically for pre, during and after exercise and extensively trailed on professional athletes, said Skin In Motion founder, London-based celebrity makeup artist Gia Mills.

One of its signature products is the Lift It Waterproof Mascara, Mills said: “As a makeup artist I have been using waterproof mascara on clients for years and found that there were not many that were fit for purpose, they didn’t separate the lashes effectively enough and didn’t lift the lashes suitably. So, we did a lot of research and created one with a curved brush to add lift and a formula which really separates and nourishes the lashes,” she said.

A marathon runner herself, Mills said she launched the exercise-specific line to boost confidence among those wary of exercise for fear of being negatively judged by how they look, citing a Sport England Survey, in which 75% of women in the UK said they were are put off exercise due to their appearance.

While cosmetics have mainly led the way in this trend, under the area of long lasting and ‘sweat-proof makeup,’ consumers will continue to adopt more active lifestyles and streamlined routines and products will evolve to meet growing demand in different product categories, said Pretty Analytics’s Hamid. “We’re starting to see a distance from consumers choosing to wear makeup to go the gym and a greater focus on skincare and post-recovery, instead,” Hamid told SPC. This will mean product innovations mainly targeting muscle soreness and fatigue post-workout, such as cooling gel sheet mask patches and sophisticated skincare infused makeup to cool, refresh and reduce skin redness while offering environmental protection.

In 2018, Pretty Analytics documented that only 6% of analysed web content on athleisure beauty focused on body care: “This highlights the whitespace to innovate with products targeting different workout styles, ‘in-session’ skin and hair care products and post-recovery options in this product sector. Body care is the area that Pretty Analytics predicts will encourage growth in athleisure beauty,” she said.

Well-known sports professionals have embraced this opportunity, developing skincare lines with the help of scientists to better address needs of athletes, during and after intense physical activity. Indeed, alongside sports apparel brands, we will see more partnerships with boutique gyms, workout studios and athlete brand ambassadors, Hamid added.

In 2018, Kobe Bryant, the retired USA and Canada National Basketball Association (NBA) star who died in a tragic helicopter accident in January (2020), co-founded Art of Sport, a unisex body care line for athletes. The body wash, shampoo, sunscreen, deodorant and recovery cream are formulated with natural ingredients to protect athletes, help boost performance and aid recovery post exercise. Products have been tested on professional athletes of different sizes, genders, and sports – such as Puerto Rico-born World Series (USA and Canada) baseball champion Javier Báez, American professional surfer Sage Erickson, German motorcross and supercross racer Ken Roczen, American professional skateboarder and X-Games gold medallist Ryan Sheckler, and National Football League (USA) wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Since 2018, US-based sweatWELLth has been developing products activated by heat and moisture to prevent heat and moisture-related discomfort during intense sweat sessions. This unisex range has moisture wicking and antibacterial formulas which feature the company’s proprietary time-released encapsulated technology. Its ‘No Sweat’ pre-workout spray, which has moisture wicking and a time-released formula that refreshes and cools the skin post-workout. Further, its lip balm replenishes lost electrolytes during sweat sessions and its ‘Friction Free’ anti-chaffing spray for use during exercise is designed to reduce inflammation and boost hydration thanks to hydraulic acid and a moisture-triggered cooling effect.

“Our products were meant to resolve problems and provide benefits… nothing to do with looking good!” Rebecca Killian, executive vice president of sweatWELLth, told SPC. “Our ‘hero product’ [a line with committed consumer support that delivers on a mission and is an example of strong brand performance –] is ‘Power Shower’, while new products in the pipeline are centred around post work-out recovery products containing CBD,” she said.  Products are sold only in the US, on its e-commerce site and and are particularly popular with the 22-45-year-old demographic, living in major US cities.

Also worth noting are the body heat and sweat activated formulations in London-based FaceGym’s Training Sticks, which hit shelves in 2019, costing GBP38.50 (USD50) each.

Thanks to its proprietary MyoSKNFIT technology, the skin-nourishing, water-retaining formulations are physically triggered and amplified by exercise in different phases (beginning, mid and end of the workout session), with beneficial active ingredients released in sync with heat and moisture.

While athleisure product innovations today are looking at how to solve skin, hair and wellness concerns that arise with active lifestyles, in the future we will see more products tapping to science and technology to better target skin and hair conditions due to damage while practicing a particular sport, Hamid said. “Overtime, we expect to see granularity in this category to cater for the different conditions consumers are exposed to per exercise. From outdoors to chlorine exposure to the humidity of hot yoga or even extreme sports, such as skiers exposed to cold winds,” she said.

In its 2018 report, Pretty Analytics highlighted how brands will start looking at how they can collaborate and integrate with the rise in fitness technologies, such as wearable trackers (such as Fitbit or a running tracker) or apps that provide fitness content from workouts and could suggest what beauty products to use in each phase of a workout or according to the sport. An example would be offering a post-workout beauty routine or self-care ritual to help ease the mind and muscles.

Meanwhile, Mintel’s director of BPC innovation and insight Vivienne Rudd sees product granularity going further as science and technology advance. This will mean DNA-driven skincare pre- and post-workouts or heat-activated ‘smart clothing’ that monitors sports recovery and skin protection and suggests which beauty products to use after a sweat session.


This article was first published in “Soap Perfumery & Cosmetics” magazine –