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Karina Smirnoff: How She Stays So Fit Plus Her Best Beauty Secrets

Photos Courtesy of Karina Smirnoff

As a pro dancer on ABC’s hit show, Dancing with the Stars, Karina Smirnoff is an expert on two of our favorite things: fitness and beauty. As she prances around the dance floor making a fast-paced foxtrot look easy, she’s glammed out in full hair, makeup and of course, bronzer from head-to-toe. We recently grabbed a few minutes with the Ukrainian stunner to chat about how she stays camera-ready through tough routines and how she likes to stay fit off the dance floor.

You have to keep your skin camera-ready through sweaty performances. What’s your skincare routine like?

“Yes, the sweat is not only mine, it’s usually your partner’s too! It’s definitely not the most glamorous part of the show but in the very first season of DWTS, my skin actually started breaking out pretty badly because you have heavy makeup on for hours, especially on the day of the show. We get our makeup done at six, seven or eight in the morning and we don’t go live until five p.m. and then comes touch-ups, where they put more and more on you. So my skin was breaking out really badly. But you find a way to keep it healthy and clean and right now, I’m obsessed with the Apothederm Acne Clarifying Treatment ($33, apothederm.com). I use it two to three times a week during the season and it keeps the blemishes away. I always wash my skin when I’m off the air and try to take off all the makeup. I use an exfoliant or the Clarisonic brush (prices vary, clarisonic.com), which is amazing because all you do is hold it to your skin and it does the job. There are different types of cleansers that have some parabens in them but Apothederm doesn’t and it’s incredible. It lifts all of the makeup off of your skin. And if you use it with the Clarisonic, which you don’t have do it every day but maybe once or twice a week, it gets out everything from inside the pores as well. I love when you have time off and you can use a mask and sometimes, I even make my own mask when I go to a sauna. I mix salt with honey and use it as an exfoliant on my skin but its also very moisturizing because of the honey.”

You wear some pretty intricate hairstyles on the show. Do you have any tips for keeping them in place during such active performances?
“Yes, besides hairpins and bobby pins, they have these little metal clips with teeth (similar here: L. Erickson Mini Mini Metal Jaw 8-Pack, $18, franceluxe.com) and they are the size of your pinky nail and they hold onto your hair so well to keep it in place. And not to mention, the excessive amount of hairspray! I can’t go out to places that have live fire just for the sake of catching my hair on fire!”

Everyone on the show is so bronzed! What is the self-tanning routine like?
“We get spray tanned on Sundays for the show during the season with a great company called South Seas Tanning, which gets you darker but it doesn’t get you nearly as dark as what we actually look like on the show. So there are different bronzers that I mix to create my own concoction for the body and you put it on and it dries so it doesn’t get on your clothes. It gives you that shimmery, glowing skin. I mix Rimmel Sunshimmer Instant Tan (available in the UK, boots.com) with South Seas Beach Bling Shimmer Lotion ($18, southseas.com), that’s the one that keeps it dry and then I add LORAC TANtalizer Body Bronzing Luminizer ($32, loraccosmetics.com). I mix it all in my hands. I wear gloves because it’s easier and you don’t have to wash your hands after and then you just put it all over! I love to look tan. But the funny part is I never spray tan my face, I only spray tan my body so you kind of have the floating head when the face is pale against the rest of the body, but I don’t want to clog my pores.”

The show is so glamorous but on a day when you’re not feeling your best, what’s one beauty move you do to boost your confidence?
“Oh, well, I always believe that a great pair of heels and mascara is all a girl needs to feel sexy!”

What’s your favorite mascara?
“I really like the new Blinc Mascara ($26, sephora.com). It’s not like a normal mascara. This one has an ingredient [tube-technology] so when you wash it off, you don’t get raccoon eyes. It gets soft and just comes right off like gel. I also like Marc Jacobs Gel Definition Mascara ($26, sephora.com) and Stila mascaras ($22 each, stilacosmetics.com). L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Power Volume 24H Mascara ($8, lorealparisusa.com) is great, too. It makes your eyelashes look twice as long!”

So when you’re not dancing, how do you like to stay in shape? What are your favorite workouts?
“I do everything, from martial arts to Krav Maga, to yoga to jogging, running, hiking. I like to spice it up and keep it different every time because I get bored really fast. And the ADD doesn’t help that either! So I try to do different stuff every time but to me, the best workout is dancing. That’s why I have the DanceFIT-KS. It’s a dance-inspired workout because it’s moves that dancers use to keep in shape and no matter how often you do it, your body never gets used to it because you never use the same muscles twice. We do dance camps, too and we take it to different hotels in the summer. It’s a win-win situation, with the travel, the amazing vacations, you get to work out, stay in shape, meet new people.”

Do you have any favorite snacks that you like to fuel up with before a workout or performance?
“I do but when you perform and dance you don’t want to feel full. Me, personally, when I eat, all I want to do is sit on the couch with the remote control. I get into the couch potato mode. And when I dance I don’t want to feel hungry but I want to feel light and alert. So I try to snack on things like pineapple or watermelon because they’re diuretic and go right through your system. I eat nuts a lot, like walnuts because they are a brain food and we could all use a little brain food! Sometimes I even do dried cranberries because they are a great source of energy. And you can never go wrong with dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is a divine food.”

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