Advice for Dancers

Skin-Care SOS: Why Does My Acne Get Worse During Performances?

Wearing heavy stage makeup can take a toll on your skin. Photo by rawpixel/Unsplash

Does stage makeup cause acne? I've had breakouts throughout my teens and 20s, but they get worse during performances. What can I do?

—Faceful of Pimples, Las Vegas, NV

Pimples form when hair follicles get clogged with excess oil and dead skin. Wearing heavy makeup worsens this situation by clogging your pores even more. Demanding performances can add to breakouts too because stress releases hormones that stimulate oil production.

A proper skin-care regimen will help wash away residue from stage makeup. Photo by Getty Images

The best line of defense is to thoroughly wash your face nightly with lukewarm water, a cleanser that doesn't dry out your skin and a skin-care brush that uses sonic vibrations to dislodge residue. On days you wear heavy makeup, apply an alcohol-free makeup remover before cleansing to wipe away excess oil.

Acne medications prescribed by a dermatologist can also treat blemishes, or look for over-the-counter products with ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and alpha hydroxy acid. (Just don't pop your pimples, as this can lead to scars unless done by a dermatologist or a professional esthetician.) If you have a history of acne, it's also important to rule out possible underlying problems, such as rosacea or hormonal issues. And don't forget to use an oil-free moisturizer to counteract the drying effects of cleaning the last bits of stage makeup from your face!

Send your questions to Dr. Linda Hamilton at

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