One of the first lessons you learn in pole dancing is not to use lotion.
It is a mantra repeated by many instructors: “Don’t wear lotion!” resulting in many poles being cursed for mystery lotion smears.
Do you know why lotion is such a no-no in the pole dance world? It’s an easy rule to accept at face value, so perhaps we don’t think about it, but explanations are far and few between.
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How Your Skin Affects the Pole
When poles are first manufactured, they are covered in a thin coat of oil to prevent scratching and damage during shipment. That thin coat of oil is the reason why you have to break in your pole when you first get them in – something you might be familiar with if you have a home pole studio, which we cover in our Home Poling Handbook.
Most previously owned poles or studio poles have been well-used so that oil coating goes away over time. That’s why, if you have two poles made from the same metal, one might be more “grippy” than the other – chances are, the one that is more slippery is either newer or hasn’t seen as much use.
Your skin produces natural oils that can help re-oil the pole as we use it, so the pole won’t be completely dry. This is a good thing!
If the pole was completely dry, and your skin was completely dry – or if you were trying to pole with your clothes on – you wouldn’t be able to stick to the pole.
The natural oils in your skin helps oil the pores in the metal and it gives you tension that you can use to “stick” to the pole and hold yourself up. Combined with using your anatomy to anchor yourself in, you can do things like Jade, or Allegra, or even the humble Lady Sit.
If you don’t have enough moisture, then you won’t have that tension. This is an issue that pole dancers with chronically dry skin are familiar with.
On the flip side, too much oil can cause the pole to become slippery, which is why cleaning your pole before, after, and during your training session is highly recommended for grip and pole maintenance.
Why You Should Avoid Lotion Before Pole Days
Many lotion have ingredients like shea butter or almond oil, which, while it makes your skin feel soft, it’s also adding a layer of oil. If you lotion-up before a pole day, you’re going to find yourself slippery and creating a layer of greasy, slick, oil on the pole. Yuck!
Skin creams and lotions will stay on top of the skin for hours. Even if you’re moisturizing late at night and have pole class the next day late in the evening, you’re still going to have a thick layer of new oils on your skin.
To maintain the balance and keep your skin free of slippery oils, you’re going to want to avoid anything that has oils in the ingredient list, which means, yes, it’s time to start paying closer attention to those ingredients.
What About Moisturizing?
If you take better care of your skin, it’s going to stick to the pole better. Healthier skin means better grip!
The best time to pole is when your skin is slightly warm and slightly damp. Warming up will help you achieve the warm part, but moisturizing will help you achieve slightly damp skin.
The name of the game here is balance.
We often forget that parts of our body can get too dry, too, so it’s important to moisturize and maintain balance in your skin. Just be sure to seek out an oil-free moisturizer that you and your skin is happy with!
Of course, if you just rub moisturizer into your skin at the end of the night, it’s not going to be as effective. Your skin responds better to moisturizer after it’s wet, so if you moisturize right after taking a shower, you’ll find it yields better results.
Pro Tip: Exfoliation also helps maintain healthy, grippy skin!
What Ingredients Should I Look For?
Now, at this point, you know that the important thing is to avoid oils and get non-greasy, or oil-free products.
That leaves the question: what ingredients are good choices?
Most pole dancers all agree that glycerin or aloe will both leave you feeling moisturized and give you an extra grippy advantage.
The most popular option as far as lotion brands go is the Body Shop Sorbet, but these products are becoming harder to come by as the company discontinued many of their products. An alternative particularly favored by pole dancers with dry skin is Corn Husker’s Lotion.
Gold Bond Ultimate Healing with Aloe is another popular lotion that many pole dancers swear by.
Of course, finding a lotion that makes you and your skin happy is a journey, so don’t be afraid of trying new products!