Black Chin From Playing Flute

If you’re reading this article my guess is that you have experienced a phenomenon that happens to us flute players. Sometimes we get a black chin from playing the flute!

The funny thing about this is that we oftentimes don’t notice it until one of our friends or family member points out that we have some sort of black smudge under our lower lip.

The only way to get it off seems to be to wipe really, really hard.

Sometimes we get a black chin from playing the flute!

So why does our chin turn black after playing the flute? And, why does it only happen to some people and not others?

Here are some answers for you so you can either prevent it or just plain deal with it.

  1. Occasionally our flutes aren’t the cleanest (no!), and the oils and gunk from our face and fingers has mixed on the lip plate for long enough to create a pretty dirty, oily tarnish. We can’t really see it with our eyes, but it is definitely there. When we take our flute on and off our chin area during a practice or performance session this ‘dirty silver oil-dust’ sticks to our skin. That’s why you always see the stripe right where the flute touches.

How to fix this? Um. Clean your flute – every day after practice. And, start with clean hands and face.

  1. There is one thing that is tried and true in my house and studio. The boys never get a black stripe, and the girls do many of the times. Why is this? Well, I’ll raise my hand right now and tell you the answer is the difference between the boys and the girls is the make-up they are wearing!

I’ve noticed that cheap-er make-up shows up black quite often on flutists, and those who wear a higher grade do better.. but it’s not exactly fool-proof. I’ve noticed that occasionally I’ll have a black streak even when I’m not wearing make-up at all. I attribute the issue to a ‘probably-didn’t-wash-it-all-off-night-before’ moment, or if I didn’t really clean my head joint well the day before.

There’s a reaction that happens with silver and something to do with the compounds in the recipe of the make-up.

  1. There could be other scientific reasons for the famous black streak on the chin for flutists, but here’s an interesting one you may never have thought of;

I actually did a little research a while back on this, and found that there is evidence and proof that people who are on certain medications will have a change in the ph balance. This mixed with the silver (no matter the grade of alloy) will cause a quick tarnishing effect. Wow, huh?!

I’ve heard that certain antibiotics are a main offender.

I hope this article has been interesting to you. It’s not every day that our black striped chin goes with our outfit. 😉

Have any questions? Comment below and I will help you out.

Rebecca FullerRebecca Fuller
Get Flutie with us! Learn and enjoy every musical minute.

3 thoughts on “Black Chin From Playing Flute”

  1. Many, MANY moons ago, when I was in my 20s I found Phosphor Bronze acoustic guitar strings and I did not “cohabit” well together. Phosphor Bronze strings are used by many professionals who claim they last longer and sound better than normal Bronze strings.

    But not for me. I could turn a set of Phosphor Bronze strings BLACK in about forty-five minutes of playing. It had something to do with chemistry in my finger tips. Over time this issue went away, and Phosphor Bronze is all I used today. I suspect if I’d been playing flute back then I might have done the same thing to the flute.

    I was just looking for things that oxidize silver and found that hard-boiled egg yolks can do the trick. So maybe stay away from the Egg McMuffins before practicing!


    1. Hey William, how interesting! Eggs?? Okay, that’s a new one for me. Sounds like a cool science experiment though. 🙂 ~Rebecca

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