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Ask The Expert: What To Do About Dancer Acne?

Q: My face barely had any acne before I started dancing so intensely. Now my face, chest and shoulders are getting worse every day. What can I do to fix this?

A: Don’t let imperfect skin affect your confidence, on or off the stage. This type of acne (called acne mechanica) is something we see all the time in our clients who take dance classes for several hours at a time, and also for dancers who go to competition. Not to worry–“dancer acne” is easily treatable with a few simple changes to your cleansing routine and diet.  

Hydration and Nutrition

Hydration and nutrition are a very important part of having the stamina to take back-to-back classes, but convenience is key when you are running from school to the dance studio.

Many dancers take a trip through the Chick-Fil-A drive through on the way to class (or on the way home) but Chick-Fil-A uses peanut oil in all of their foods except the salads, which increases oil production and causes acne. We recommend P. Terry’s instead, since they use vegetable oil.

The other mistake we see is re-hydrating with Gatorade or even pickle juice. Gatorade contains high fructose corn syrup or table sugar, which creates new acne lesions, and also table salt, which inflames the pores and makes acne look red and inflamed. Pickle juice also contains salt. As a replacement, we recommend NUUN electrolyte tablets to add to your water, or even plain water instead.

And if you’re choosing a quick smoothie meal at JuiceLand, be sure to stay away from whey protein, spirulina, carrageenan, and peanuts, all of which cause or worsen acne. Safe smoothie alternatives are hemp protein, egg white protein, and almonds.

Facial Acne

Dancers can get acne anywhere on their face and jawline, but it usually occurs on the forehead, cheeks and chin where they repeatedly wipe away sweat with dirty hands.

If you’re experiencing acne then you’ll need to work overtime to keep your skin as clean as possible between dance classes, which means running to the bathroom during your 5-minute break and wiping down those acne-prone areas. Our dancer clients love our alcohol-free, salicylic-based POREspective® Purifying Toner for quick facial cleanups until they can get home to shower. Once home, make a beeline for the shower (no detours!) to wash off the sweat and grime, then apply a low-dose benzoyl peroxide like Clearing Gel 2.8 to all acne-prone areas on the face to deep clean the pores, treat current acne, and prevent future acne flareups.

For daily makeup, it’s really best to go with a light mineral powder, but for the really important dance recitals and dance competitions, you’ll want a formula that completely covers the acne lesions and redness. Unfortunately, 99% of the primers and foundations on the market will aggravate your acne and make your breakouts worse. So, you put on more makeup, breakout more, and it becomes a vicious cycle. To help you in your acne-free journey, we’ve hand-picked the very best primers and foundations that will cover your breakouts and stay on through even the most grueling competitions without destroying your skin in the process.

(CAUTION: These products may break you out if used regularly, but are the “least of the worst” offenders on the market for special occasions like a dance recital or competition where you need the staying power of a primer and the coverage of a liquid. FULL DISCLOSURE: When using these products over acne-prone areas, there is always the chance of a “payback breakout” afterwards.)

Acne-Safe Primers

• Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Light
• Smashbox Photo Finish More Than Primer
• Tarte BB Tinted Treatment 12-Hour Primer Broad Spectrum SPF 30
• Maybelline New York Face Studio Master Prime Makeup

Acne-Safe Liquid Foundations

• Illuminare Concealing Mineral Foundation SPF 20
• Illuminare Mattifying (Ultimate All Day) Mineral Foundation-Florentine Fair SPF 20
• Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation Mattifying Oil Free
• Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation
• CoverGirl truBlend Liquid Foundation Makeup
• Dermablend Smooth Liquid Camo Foundation

Body Acne

Body acne is caused by the same factors that trigger acne on the face: overactive oil glands, dead skin cells that block pores, and a buildup of acne-causing bacteria on the skin’s surface. Wearing tight, sweaty fabrics for extended periods of time can be a recipe for disaster and cause body acne in dancers who have never experienced it before.

On the body, acne mainly occurs on the chest and shoulders, and also under straps and bra lines. This type of body acne is worsened by wearing sweaty clothes, leotards and sports bras that aren’t clean and are growing bacteria, which then rubs against the skin and traps plugs inside the pores.

Here’s what we instruct our dancer clients to do to keep bacteria from clogging their pores and causing body acne:

  • Wear breathable, wicking fabrics to the studio, especially undergarments. Look for bras and sports bras that say “Dry Fit.”
  • The best option is to shower within 15 minutes of sweating to make sure there’s no leftover bacteria on the skin, but that’s not an option for dancers who take back-to-back classes. As a quick cleanup to get you to your next shower, try wiping down your acne-prone areas on your body between every class with a strong, alcohol-based glycolic and lactic toner like POREspective® Exfoliating Toner, which you should keep in your dance bag at all times along with a package of cotton pads.
  • When you finally get home, don’t stop in the kitchen for dinner or do your homework—shower first! Wash acne-prone areas on the body with a creamy, medicated cleanser like POREspective® Clearing Wash that contains benzoyl peroxide, which kills the bacteria that causes acne and unclogs pores. For an even deeper clean, try using a gritty, benzoyl peroxide scrub like POREspective® Clearing Scrub.
  • If your body acne is persistent or uncontrollable, consider following a twice-per-day home care body program that includes a morning exfoliating serum like POREspetive® Salicylic Serum and an evening 10% benzoyl peroxide treatment like POREspective® Clearing Gel 10.0, and scheduling monthly back acne treatments (chemical peels with extractions) with our acne expert to speed the process along.

Follow These Best Practices to Clear Up Your Dancer Acne:

  • Start every class and rehearsal with clean, dry clothing.
  • Wipe down your face and body with Purifying Toner or Exfoliating Toner between and after classes to de-grease and clean until you can get home to shower.
  • Wash your face morning and evening (and a third time, if possible, after sweating) with Clearing Wash. Scrub the acne-prone areas on your body at least once per day (preferably twice) and as soon as possible after sweating with medicated Clearing Scrub. Both products contain benzoyl peroxide to target the P.acnes bacteria that causes acne.
  • Make sure your protein sources don’t come from dairy or peanuts. Drink almond milk instead of cow’s milk and eat almond or cashew butter instead of peanut butter. Also, stay away from quick meals that use peanut oil like Chick-Fil-A and smoothies that contain whey protein or peanut butter, along with carrageenan or spirulina (seaweed).
  • Watch that your hydration sources don’t come from salt or sugar (pickle juice/Gatorade). Drink plain water, or add NUUN electrolyte tablets instead.
  • Purchase Opti-Zinc supplements. Take 90 mg. (three capsules) daily to reduce the red, inflamed acne that people can see. Tip: Take Opti-Zinc about 20 minutes after your biggest meal to avoid stomach upset.
  • Get the plugs extracted by an acne expert!

 

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