the acne safe guide to burning man & desert camping

flash back to that foggy february morning when you woke up way too early to get in the cyber queue for burning man tickets. you called in sick and stayed in your pjs all morning, too afraid to miss your thousandth screen refresh, leaving your laptop only to run to the freezer so that you could ice your face while you were waiting. six hours later… you finally get your tickets and are now dancing around your apartment with joy thinking of how awesome you’re going to look in your costumes with clear skin!

you’ve put in the work – you’re icing every day, using all of your sS products, coming in for regular treatments and you haven’t had a cheeseburger in months. you are awesome. now that you’ve seen how easy and rewarding it is to lead an acne safe lifestyle, we want to help you maintain it even when you’re 4,000 feet above sea level in a desert full of sand and sequins.

being from new mexico, i know a thing or two about the high desert, and what it can do to your skin and body. here are the most important things to remember during travel and your week at burning man, as told by me and burningman.org.

burning man

1. coming from the bay area, you are going to gain 4,000 feet in elevation. many people experience elevation sickness characterized by headaches, fatigue, and nausea (also you are more sensitive to alcohol and need much less to feel buzzed or beyond.)

  • how to kick elevation sickness’ booty: drink your water! the official burning man website recommends 1.5 gallons per person per day.

2. the temperature in the desert fluctuates a lot between day and night. your face will probably be sweating from 10am-8pm when it’s 100+ degrees out and then you’ll be freezing at night when it drops to 40 degrees.

  • how to keep your face and body fresh: wash your face by generously spraying rose water on your skin, dry with clean 4×4’s (cotton wipes, or a clean dry towel) and reapply sunscreen when you wake up, as well as any other time you’ve had a solid sweat stream for more than an hour. sweat can induce AND irritate acne, and also make it inflamed and sensitive.

3. the desert is dry and sunny. (just in case you didn’t know that one.)

  • how to keep your skin from cracking, flaking or burning: use your safeguard spf 40 to moisturize and protect your skin throughout the day. remember to cleanse with rosewater and reapply spf if your face gets wet or sweaty. if you feel particularly dry you can layer hydrating cream under your spf. at night cleanse and moisturize with hydrating cream.  (tip: throughout the day, you can spritz your skin with the rosewater spray anytime!  just make sure your sunscreen doesn’t start to drip off).
  • for your lips: to prevent cracking and chapping, pick up an sS lip balm with spf. staying hydrated and eating healthy fats like avocados and almonds will also help maintain moisture in your lips.
  • for your body: we just started carrying an awesome line of body sunscreens called goddess garden, which comes in a sport formula to stay on through sweat and sand. i guarantee after a day in the sun and sand, your skin will be parched. quench it with a layer of raw organic shea butter. you can pick this up in a travel friendly jar (big enough to share) at whole foods, or any other hippy dippy shop along the way.

4. accessories that will help keep your skin happy and healthy:

  • a hat will keep the sun off of your face. if you can, get one that has a tie or strap for wind storms. keep the strap tight enough to keep your hat from flying away, but loose enough that it doesn’t aggravate your skin and cause inflammation.
  • a dust mask will keep sand particles out of your face, nose and mouth. again, make  sure it isn’t too tight. a bandana or a silk scarf tied around your face can also work well.
  • hand sanitizer is essential for a place where there is no running water and you’re in contact with tens of thousands of people. we like clean & well. make sure to lather your hands up (and rinse them, if you can) before touching your face!
  • don’t forget the ice! you can purchase ice at arctica throughout your stay. icing will not only feel amazing on your face in the desert heat, it will also keep inflammation at bay.

5. words of wisdom

  • have fun! the burning man experience is all about love, discovery and adventure. embrace it and it will be good to you.
  • sleep. there will be people up at 3 am having fun. you can join them or you can get your full 9 hours of sleep and feel awesome all week long. burning man is a lot of physical stress on your body, so it’s important to give yourself to to rebuild and reset. at the very least take (or add) a midday nap. it will be really hot around 3pm and a siesta under the shade of your tent will feel awesome.
  • stick to your acne safe diet. if there’s any place that it is easy to avoid dairy, soy and coffee, it is the middle of the desert where there are no restaurants. just be sure to pack nutritious snacks and avoid the processed foods as much as possible. some good options are: krave jerkyegg white protein powder, fresh grapefruit, apples, raw almonds, steel cut oatmeal, whole grain crackers or organic corn/veggie chips.
  • come in to sS for a treatment 10-7 days before you leave to make sure that your skin is completely healed and done peeling and/or 7-10 days after you get back to let us do a thorough cleaning and get you back on track! we recommend waiting at least a week to give your body time to rest and rebuild after vacation so that your skin properly extracts and heals after treatment.

you can email me here: liesse@skinsalvationsf.com with any questions or check out the official burning man survival guide here.

stay healthy, safe and clear! we can’t wait to hear all about your adventures!

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