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

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!