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How Dancers Can Prevent (and Treat) Acne Scars

It's the day before your big recital and you've won the battle against your breakout—only to be left with the parting gift of unsightly dark marks in its place. While acne scarring can be challenging to treat, it's easy to prevent. Dance Spirit turned to Dr. Yunyoung Claire Chang, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist in NYC, for advice on combatting this frustrating issue.

How to Prevent Acne

It's crucial to remove your makeup immediately following a performance. "All the sweat and makeup can clog pores, leading to more acne," Chang says. "Try to seek out products that are noncomedogenic, which are lighter and less oily, and thus less likely to clog your pores. Also, make sure you're regularly washing your makeup brushes!" She suggests using a salicylic acid cleanser to wash your face and exfoliate your skin if you're between breakouts, or a cleanser with benzoyl peroxide if you're battling any active acne.

Chang stresses that there's a big correlation between the severity of your acne and resulting scarring. "Treating acne early is critical in preventing scarring," she says. If you're only dealing with isolated blemishes that appear infrequently, using an over-the-counter retinoid treatment like Differin can stop the pimple in its tracks before it becomes a scar. However, everyone's skin is different, and certain cases require a more in-depth treatment plan created by a board-certified dermatologist. The bottom line is that the more you manage your skin, the less acne, and subsequent scarring, you'll have to deal with.

How to Treat Scarring

If you're managing recent scars, Chang emphasizes the importance of wearing sunscreen every day. "Otherwise, any dark spots will just get darker," she says. "Effective treatment really depends on the type of scarring." Hyperpigmentation can fade away over time with the assistance of glycolic acid, retinol, or azelaic acid (all available over the counter), as well as a professional chemical peel or resurfacing lasers. Atrophic scars—scars that appear to be indented—can benefit from methods that stimulate collagen production, including microneedling and certain laser treatments (though the latter can be costly and a bit painful). An appointment with your dermatologist is often necessary to determine the best course of action for your skin, especially if the treatment involves prescription-strength acids or medical procedures.

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A little foundation and concealer can go a long way when it comes to covering acne scars. The secret lies in the application. Give yourself a good base by moisturizing and priming with your preferred products, then apply your foundation with a brush or Beautyblender. Take a fine-tipped concealer brush and dip it into your concealer. Dot the product over your scars until they're invisible (but don't overdo it, or they'll look cakey). Dip a powder brush into loose setting powder and apply it all over your face with a blending motion, taking extra care to tap gently over the scarred areas, rather than blend—this will lock the concealer into place.

A version of this story appeared in the April 2019 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "(Not So) Scarred for Life."

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Ashton Edwards Is Breaking Down Gender Barriers in Ballet

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For the young child, it was love at first sight.

"I saw a beautiful, black Clara," Ashton says, "and I wanted to be just like her."

Ashton has dedicated 14 years of ballet training in pursuit of that childhood dream. But all the technical prowess in the world can't help Ashton surmount the biggest hurdle—this aspiring dancer was assigned male at birth, and for the vast majority of boys and men, performing in pointe shoes hasn't been a career option. But Ashton Edwards, who uses the pronouns "he" and "they," says it's high time to break down ballet's gender barrier, and their teachers and mentors believe this passionate dancer is just the person to lead the charge.

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Shouldering the Load: What kind of dance bag should dancers use?

Walk into any dance convention, audition or class, and you'll see a vast variety of dance bags lining the walls. But can the style of bag you use (and how you wear it) have an impact on your dancing?

Don't worry—you won't have to shoulder the load alone. Dance Spirit spoke with two physical therapists who specialize in working with dancers to find out what dance bag is best.

What should dancers look for in a dance bag?

Dr. Meghan Gearhart, physical therapist and owner of Head2Toe Physical Therapy in Charlotte, NC, recommends dancers opt for a backpack-style dance bag rather than a duffel or cross-body bag.

"A bag that pulls the weight all to one side creates a side bend and rotation in the trunk," Gearhart says. "That is going to lead to muscle imbalances that will affect dancers while they're dancing, as well as just in regular everyday life." Muscle imbalances can mean limited mobility on one side of your body, as the muscles on one side are overly contracted and the other side is overly extended to compensate.

Gearhart suggests dancers pick a backpack made from a lightweight yet durable and breathable material, such as cotton, linen, nylon or polyester. Straps should be wide enough to not dig into your shoulder muscles, so avoid drawstring styles with rope straps. Adjustable and padded straps are best, so you can wear the straps at a length where the bag rests at the middle of your back.

Dr. Bridget Kelly Sinha, physical therapist and founder of Balanced Physical Therapy and Dance Wellness in Matthews, NC, emphasizes the importance of finding an even weight distribution when choosing a dance bag.

"If a dancer has a lot to bring, like when heading to the theater for a full day of rehearsals and performances, then I recommend a rolling suitcase to offset the load," Sinha says.

How should dancers wear their bags?

Even if you've selected the perfect dance bag, it's important to be mindful of how you wear it.

Gearhart advocates wearing both straps when carrying your backpack. She also suggests placing heavier items towards the back of the bag, where they will sit closer to your body. A bag with straps that are too loose (or a bag that is too heavy) can create an increased arch in the lower back or cause a dancer to compensate for the weight by leaning forward. Ideally, Gearhart recommends a dancer's dance bag weighing no more than 10 to 15 percent of their body weight.

"I usually tell dancers to use their common sense. If you don't have tap today, you don't need to bring the tap shoes," she says. "If your water bottle makes the bag too heavy, just carry it." If your studio offers lockers, take advantage of that storage space to lessen the number of clothes, shoes, and dance accessories that live in your dance bag.

And if you think your bad dance-bag habits have given you alignment issues, seek out a dance physical therapist to prevent further injuries.

"As a dancer, your body is working so hard all day," Sinha says. "It does not need excess strain from your bag."

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