how to be a happy acne-safe camper (plus tips for burning man)

so you wanna be an acne-safe camper, eh? you’ve come to the right place! camping season is well under way here in the bay area. with burning man just around the corner, it’s time for an updated guide to experiencing the wilderness in an acne-safe fashion. i just got back from a week-long camping and backpacking adventure in the glorious yosemite backcountry, where i didn’t let my acne-safe lifestyle ruin my fun. experiencing the bountiful nature that california has to offer is one of the many privileges of living in the bay area, but there’s no need to derail all of the hard work you’ve put into achieving clear skin just for a few days off the grid. here are some essential acne-safe camping tips from a pro backpacker!

camping in the summer heat is a perfect excuse to ice your face. it’s cool, it’s refreshing and once others see how much fun you’re having, they’ll want to join right in. since it’s not always practical to travel with your sS ice pop, we recommend bringing plenty of clean ziplock bags, putting fresh ice directly inside and then placing them in your cooler. when you’re ready to ice, pop out some clean ice cubes and go to town, inflammation be damned!

plan your meals. seriously. just do it. here is a sample meal plan from my last camping trip. planning your meals ahead of time ensures that you bring exactly enough food for the number of days you’ll be camping so you won’t go hungry and you won’t have an excuse to eat a ton of dairy and soy. bring acne-safe packaged foods that don’t need a ton of preparation – epic bars for protein, trail mix for good fat, hard boiled eggs, low-sugar fruit and cans of sardines (truly). and yes, you can enjoy some soy-free smores around the campfire at night, too.

greet the day with some fresh herbal or black tea. revel in your body’s chance to reset its circadian rhythms to match the cycles of the sun and moon.

bathe in the refreshing waters of nearby lakes and streams. this is a great way to reset if you’re feeling like your hygiene game is suffering. you can rinse away any dirt or dust and follow up your dip with a swipe of some sS hydrating toner and sunscreen.

and don’t forgot your product essentials. pick ’em up from the sS clinic before you begin your camping adventures:

  1. for sun protection, along with layers and a hat, we recommend amping up your spf by using sS safeguard spf40 for your face and goddess garden sunscreen for your body. their sport line is water resistant up to 80 minutes and is completely biodegradable so you can splash around in some cool alpine lakes with nary a worry. don’t forget to protect those luscious lips with our lip balm and reapply as needed. always seek shade when possible and get yourself a good pair of sunglasses.
  2. if you’ve been out hiking all day and anticipate sore muscles the next morning, pop a magnesium pill or two before bed. this will ease any bodily tension and help you sleep peacefully.
  3. if you’re worried about mosquitoes, grab some greener ways bug spray, an organic and safe alternative to deet and picaridin.
  4. if you won’t have access to clean water for bathing, bring along our hydrating or sterilizing toners and some toner pads to freshen up throughout the day. if you’re on the road and don’t have access to these products, yes to cucumbers face wipes will work in a pinch.
  5. feeling like your hair is melting into a colossal oil slick? bring along a homemade arrowroot starch dry shampoo in a small jar to apply as often as necessary. combine 1/4 cup arrowroot starch with 5 drops of essential oil of your choice (lavender, cedarwood, etc) and store in an airtight jar for the duration of your trip. for dark hair, combine 2 tablespoons arrowroot plus 2 tablespoons cacao powder with the essential oils. experiment and find what works for you!1

 

but what about burning man? the dusty environment of “la playa” is an entirely different ballpark from heading out onto the foggy, fragrant trails of marin with a few friends. so here are some burning man-specific tips and tricks to stay acne safe.

  1. stay hydrated internally and externally. bring at least a gallon of water per person per day and hydrate your skin frequently with sS hydrating cream to combat the dusty dry landscape. bring along some rosewater hydrosol and spritz your face all throughout the day. and don’t forget to ice your face!
  2. stay sun-safe. bring several hats – you don’t want to be caught in the desert without one! reapply safeguard spf40 sunscreen and sS lip balm often and bring some acne-safe aloe just in case you burn.
  3. deal with the dust. bring sunflower oil in a tiny jar to dab in your nostrils and to moisturize your feet at night – you can avoid “playa foot” by keeping all nooks and crannies of your skin moisturized constantly. wear gloves and goggles to avoid getting too dusty and dirty, and bring a few bandanas as protection when the wind picks up.
  4. stay clean. since you probably won’t have access to a shower (unless you have a very kind neighbor with a solar shower), bring an extra tub to fill with water for makeshift “showers” and foot baths. bring some sS hydrating toner with toner pads to freshen up throughout the day.
  5. plan out your meals ahead of time so you only bring what you need. bring snacks and food that need little preparation and pack your cooler full of acne-safe food so you aren’t tempted to snag a bite of your friend’s dairy-filled lunch.
  6. sleep well. if you’re a light sleeper, pack some ear plugs to drown out the rowdy campers. pack extra pillow cases to switch out over the course of the week and bring layers for the nighttime temperature drop
  7. most importantly, relax, enjoy the festivities, and have a good time! plan to come in for a treatment 7-10 days after you get back so your skin has a chance to heal from the sun exposure.

how do you enjoy nature while staying acne-safe? 

footnotes

1. dry shampoo recipe adapted from mommypotamus

curly girl 101

curly hair can be a blessing and a curse. while those with straight locks seem to be envious of us curly girls, they may not understand how difficult it can be to tame hair that often has a mind of it’s own. to avoid using heavy hair products that break me out, i have come up with some curly hacks and personal favorite tricks to keep my hair bouncy and happy!  bonus: they work well without the use of any potentially cloggy products 🙂
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  1. silk pillow cases are a curly girl’s best friend, your curls will remain intact and the silk will keep your frizz at a minimum. just remember to change your pillow cases once or twice a week to remain acne-safe.
  2. i never use brushes! they damage and break fragile curls. instead i use my figures to comb through my wet hair in the shower. you will notice your curls will like this much better than a harsh brush. if your hair is knotty, work from the tip of the hair to detangle with your fingers, which will create the least damage to your hair.
  3. to revamp and reshape curls after a long day, try using a spray bottle of water with some lavender essential oil. it really helps to calm frizz and re-boost my hair. lavender is great for curls because it works on your hair the same way it does on your mind, calming down fly aways and frizzys!  wet curls down, flip your head over and scrunch! your hair will come back to life in no time.
  4. after i shower i use a micro fiber towel to scrunch my hair, removing excess liquids and helping to shape my curls. just flip your hair over in the shower and make sure you are scrunching from the tip of the hair to the root.
  5. to achieve lose beachy waves shower before bed,  part your wet hair, and create several medium size braids. simply go to bed,  wake up in the morning, carefully un-do braids and and enjoy beautiful flowing waves.
  6. for extra volume try using old school pin curl clips in your roots as your curls dry. divide your hair into 6 sections, lifting from the root as you insert the pin curls. this will create more volume and you can remove them when hair is semi dry or completely dry.
  7. diffusing is life! i diffuse my hair every time i wash it because i want maximum curl and volume. i insert my diffuser into the root of my hair working in sections around my head and drying each section one at a time. moving the hair dryer around constantly is what creates frizz. i like to cock my head to one side as i’m drying instead of flipping my head upside down.
  8. drink plenty of water and be good to yourself, i notice that when i am dehydrated or occasionally hungover, my hair is as well, looking tired and depleted! your hair and skin both see the effects of over working yourself and malnourishment will wreak havoc on your locks!

acne-safe dandruff shampoo – found!

we’ve had success with a client using this mineralfusion dandruff shampoo – the flaking has dissipated and his forehead remains clear.  would be worth a try – it’s available at whole foods and rainbow, and does not have any overpowering fragrance!

double check the shampoo bottle’s label to make sure it matches this list:

active ingredient:
2% salicylic acid (to control dandruff)

inactive ingredients:
aqua, aloe barbadensis (leaf juice/jus de feuilles), sodium laurylglucosides hydroxypropylsulfonate, coco-betaine, sodium methyl cocoyl taurate, decyl glucoside, glycerin, panthenol, malachite (extract/extrait), smithsonite (extract/extrait), rhodochrosite (extract/extrait), hematite (extract/extrait), dimethicone, undecylenic acid, mica, titanium dioxide, melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree leaf oil/l’huile de feuilles), guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, origanum vulgare (oregano leaf extract/extrait de feuilles), citric acid, maris limus, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, ethylhexylglycerin, natural fragrance. *certified organic

happy hair, clear skin

i have had a ton of clients asking about acne safe hair styling products lately so decided to write a quick post about what we’ve found so far. i found a couple of promising brands via an article written by teen vogue on acne safe hair products. you can check out the article here.

the tricky thing about hair products is that even when they contain safe ingredients, they are more likely to be cloggy because of their intended use. these products are designed to stay in your hair through sweat, humidity, working, twerking, etcetera. while it’s great that a product can withstand all of this it can also be making it travel from your hair on to your face and body, causing breakouts.

whether you are using an sS approved product or experimenting with something that looks safe, here are a few helpful tips to prevent hair induced breakouts.

  1. make sure to change your pillowcases! use one side of the pillow, flip it the next day to use a clean side, then switch your case and repeat.
  2. cleanse + tone into your hairline and behind your ears! these are often neglected parts of the face that only get washed when we shampoo. use your facial cleanser and toner to prevent buildup and make sure you are rinsing shampoo, conditioner, and facial cleanser thoroughly from these areas.
  3. never touch your face after touching your hair! when i’m getting ready for the day i do my hair, then wash my hands using acne safe soap and THEN do my makeup etcetera. be mindful of this throughout the day as well.
  4. having your hair tied back off of your face and using no product is your best bet. this list should be used as a reference for what products to use if you must for a hot date or a wedding. on the day to day we prefer that you aren’t using styling products at all. (or at least until you are completely clear, then can introduce a hair product (or other variable, one at a time for at least a month) to isolate any new breakouts to it).
  5. manufacturers often times will change ingredient lists without announcing it so make sure to check the ingredients each time you refill. tip: a change in formulation is often accompanied by packaging changes!
hair
tried and tested acne safe shampoo & conditioner: these products have gone through our testing products and received the sS stamp of approval!
 
– shikai shower gel – double duty shower gel + shampoo available at sS
– earth science unscented shampoo available at sS
– AG fast food shampoo available at sS
– AG ultramoist conditioner available at sS
– AG colour savour conditioner available at sS
– skinSALVATION conditioner available at sS
shikai body wash - doubles as acne-safe shampoo!
 
promising shampoo & conditioner: the ingredient listings LOOK safe but by no means have been tested by sS to ensure their safety. we don’t recommend that you use these products during the initial clearing process. after you are clear you can introduce them as a single variable in your regimen and see if you break out.
 
– various nature’s gate shampoos and conditioners, read labels to make sure the one you are after doesn’t contain any cloggy ingredients. fragrance and tocopherol are the number one questionable offenders in these shampoos.
– selsun blue shampoo – great alternative to cloggy head + shoulders but may still be cloggy for some.
promising hair spray: the ingredient listings LOOK safe but by no means have been tested by sS to ensure their safety. we don’t recommend that you use these products during the initial clearing process. after you are clear you can introduce them as a single variable in your regimen and see if you break out.
*make sure you wash any leave in product from your hair before going to bed! even products that look safe can break you out if transferred to your pillowcase and then your face, night after night.
hair

promising gels, waxes and pomades: the ingredient listings LOOK safe but by no means have been tested by sS to ensure their safety. we don’t recommend that you use these products during the initial clearing process. after you are clear you can introduce them as a single variable in your regimen and see if you break out.

*make sure you wash any leave in product from your hair before going to bed! even products that look safe can break you out if transferred to your pillowcase and then your face, night after night.
 
– giovanni wicked texture pomade this product has been used by several sS’ers and is safe!
promising leave it tx: the ingredient listings LOOK safe but by no means have been tested by sS to ensure their safety. we don’t recommend that you use these products during the initial clearing process. after you are clear you can introduce them as a single variable in your regimen and see if you break out.
*make sure you wash any leave in product from your hair before going to bed! even products that look safe can break you out if transferred to your pillowcase and then your face, night after night.
 

promising products for color treated hair: 

the ingredient listings LOOK safe but by no means have been tested by sS to ensure their safety. we don’t recommend that you use these products during the initial clearing process. after you are clear you can introduce them as a single variable in your regimen and see if you break out.
promising products for curly hair:
the ingredient listings LOOK safe but by no means have been tested by sS to ensure their safety. we don’t recommend that you use these products during the initial clearing process. after you are clear you can introduce them as a single variable in your regimen and see if you break out.
this list is ever growing. we will update it as products are tested to let all of you out there know if things gained the sS stamp of approval or if they may cause breakouts. we value your input and experiences. please let us know if you have tried any of these products in the past or if you introduce them into your life. if you come in for a treatment, mention what you’re using in your hair and we can identify if you are having breakouts around your hairline as a result.
may happy hair and clear skin be with you all!
xoxo,
liesse and team sS

dry shampoo!

hey sS’ers.  i took this photo at a beauty store ages ago but haven’t had the time to post or write about it.  a client came in 2 days ago asking about dry shampoos so here you go!

L-R: it's a 10 miracle dry shampoo & conditioner in one; AG hair cosmetics fastFWD>>; pureology fresh approach; paul mitchell dry wash; redone pillow proof blow dry; sebastian dry clean only; and KMS hair play.

L-R: it’s a 10 miracle dry shampoo & conditioner in one; AG hair cosmetics fastFWD>>; pureology fresh approach; paul mitchell dry wash; redken pillow proof blow dry; sebastian dry clean only; and KMS hair play.

most dry shampoos have ‘isopropyl myristate’ which is incredibly cloggy; or argan oil.  these bottles have neither – but they all do contain some kind of fragrance.  and if you’ve read our previous post on it, you already know that ‘fragrance’ is an umbrella term for over 4000 ingredients, many of which are cloggy!

PLEASE KEEP IN MIND that we have not tested these, so we don’t know if they are actually safe or not – but with our expert opinion after reading through the ingredient listings, look like a safe place to start.

so, we encourage you to test these out and let us know what you think – it’s easiest to tell if something is cloggy if you are testing it on skin that is already clear, so you can easily identify the one variable in your regime that is breaking you out.  AND, we suggest using the product for at least 1-2 months to be sure (again, with no other variables in play).

PS – the sebastian dry clean only, in the matte black can, had the least ingredients in it’s formula, which is the most promising.  less stuff to potentially clog you up!

good luck!!!!