As children reach adolescence their bodies go through some dramatic changes, largely in response to fluctuating hormone levels. The teenage years can be particularly challenging for kids, their bodies are maturing, school and peer pressure adds to the stress and the effect on their skin can be disastrous. Breakouts, blackheads and spots can badly affect teenagers' self esteem and confidence.
The temptation is to reach for products that promise a dramatic solution, with harsh chemicals to "strip", "peel" or "exfoliate" away the problem. If your teen is suffering from severe acne, a visit to the doctor will help identify any underlying medical cause and decide on a suitable treatment. In most cases however, dermatologists advise treating the skin with care, using gentle products in a simple routine.
Here are our top dermatologist-approved skincare tips for keeping teen skin healthy and glowing;
1. Keep your skincare routine simple.
The best skincare routine is uncomplicated and consistent; twice a day, morning and night.
Wash your face twice a day, when you wake up and before you go to bed. Easy to remember if you wash at the same time as brushing your teeth. Use a gentle face wash that won't aggravate sensitive skin. Avoid SLS, a surfactant that can be very harsh on sensitive teen skin.
2. Use non-comedogenic products.
Look out for moisturisers that won’t block pores. Jojoba oil mimics natural sebum and is particularly skin compatible and therefore often recommended for acne prone skin. The temptation is to avoid moisturising oily teen skin but the right product will help to balance and protect.
3. Don’t sleep in your makeup.
Make sure to remove makeup every night before bedtime. Make up can clog pores and lead to breakouts. No excuses!
4. Keep your hair clean
Spots on the forehead and hairline are a sign that excess oil from the scalp is clogging pores. The advice is the same as for skin; use gentle products that won't strip the scalp and dry out the hair.
If you have oily hair or use oily styling products you may need to change your sheets and pillow cases more often too.
5. Avoid touching, picking, squeezing, scrubbing and using too many products.
Over-exfoliating, squeezing spots and pimples, washing your face too frequently and trying lots of new acne treatment products can lead to irritation and more breakouts. You can also trigger allergies and make your skin more sensitive.
Picking at skin introduces bacteria and can cause scarring. The golden rule is to leave pimples alone.
6. Watch out for ingredients that can irritate.
Everyone’s skin is different. If your skin is particularly sensitive, finding products that are suitable can be tricky. Look out for products labelled allergen free, avoid essential oils, particularly citrus oils, which can be highly allergenic. Also avoid artificial colours and fragrances.
If you're prone to allergies or skin sensitivity, always test new products before use, ideally for 3-7 days. Apply a small amount of the product to the same area in the same way you'd apply it in normal use, somewhere it won't get rubbed or washed off. The inner side of the elbow is ideal. Leave as long as you would in normal use; if it's a cleanser, a couple of minutes should be fine. No reaction after 7 days means the product is fine for your skin. Usually an allergic reaction will happen within a few hours.
Some common ingredients used in over the counter acne treatments, such as retinol and glycolic acid, can irritate the skin but these might be advised for use by a pharmacist or dermatologist and the skin usually settles down after a few days.
7. Eat a balanced diet.
Not always easy for tired, stressed teenagers but a healthy diet rich in vegetables, fruit and lean protein will not only improve your mood and overall health, your skin will reap the benefits too. Forget energy drinks and highly processed snack bars, for a sustainable boost that will sharpen your mind and get your skin glowing, drink lots of water and choose a healthy raw snack. Our favourite is almonds soaked overnight in water. Delicious, easy to digest and packed with vitamins, minerals, protein and fibre.
8. If acne is severe see a dermatologist.
If your acne isn’t improving despite consistently caring properly for your skin, trying over-the-counter treatments, or you experience significant flare ups or scarring, or if acne is affecting your well being you should seek professional help from a qualified dermatologist. For moderate to severe acne, you may be prescribed an oral or topical acne medication, such as sarecycline, isotretinoin or hormonal birth control. Only take medication under medical supervision.