Welcome back! Today we are trying to help our younger audience figure out how to start taking care of their skin. The earlier you start, the better it is. Yup, we’re tackling teens skincare!
Most people are born with baby soft skin. And then High School comes along with raging hormones! And just like that, that clear skin is no more.
It’s all probably so sudden that it leaves you confused, wondering where you went wrong. You’re probably also thinking, “Am I using too many products?”, “What do I really need?”, “Why does my face sting?”, “Do I need to exfoliate?”, “What’s this Aha and Bha?”, “Are these ingredients too strong?”, “What is all these gibberish?”
What are the basics, you ask?
That is exactly what we’ll be covering in today’s post.
As always, we’ll first nerd out over biology because it’s important to learn about what’s causing these changes in our skin in the first place, and dive deep into the major causes and triggers of teen acne.
We’ll also walk through what’s necessary for a simple but effective skincare routine, and recommend some well liked and budget-friendly products. Enjoy!
Let’s zoom in for a second into our skin. There are two main layers: the epidermis and dermis, and they both have specific functions that keep our skin looking happy and healthy.
The epidermis is the outermost layer and it’s what our eyes see. It might sound weird but what we’re looking at is a lot of dead skin cells, and they’re shedding all the time, all over our body. The shedding process is known as cell turnover, and it helps to naturally exfoliate the top layer of dead skin and push up and create new skin.
A teenager’s cell turnover is like a well-oiled machine that just keeps on turning! But as we get older each year, slowly but surely, in our 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond, the rate of this cell turnover slows down.
Why does this matter?
The shedding is key when it comes to the vibrancy of our skin, and explains why your cute teenage faces are a lot plumper and less dull without even trying. So that was the epidermis.
Moving on to the dermis. It’s composed of two very specific and powerful proteins, collagen and elastin. They go hand-in-hand, to give you that youth and plumpness that we’ve been talking about.
And lucky enough, you teenagers still have an increased production of both (collagen and elastin). Also, skin is the thickest when you’re a teen, and since it’s so thick and resilient, teens can better protect themselves from injuries, invading substances, and other environmental factors. But even if we have youth and juicy plumpness on our side, some of us will start experiencing pimples, breakouts or acne, and they can start showing up anywhere and everywhere. Cheeks, chin, forehead…you name it.
So how do you get acne?
On your skin, you have hair follicles that reach from the dermis layer to the surface. Within these follicles, sebaceous glands produce an oily substance known as sebum, to moisturize the hair and skin. When there’s an overproduction of sebum along with a buildup of dead skin cells and dirt, your pores can get clogged, which can then trigger an inflammatory response. And sometimes, bacteria can get in there as well, resulting in a swollen infected area around the follicle. And before you know it, voila! A pimple!
Okay, so before you freak out teen acne is perfectly normal especially when you’re at this age.
When adolescents are experiencing what’s known as puberty, their hormones drastically rise. This hormone surge makes the sebaceous or oil glands enlarge at least several times its normal size. And this leads to an increased production of sebum, which can later lead to blackheads, whiteheads, and even cysts.
While hormones play a huge role in this, there’s also the added layer of increased stress. Stress also causes inflammation in the body, which can make pimples that you already have even more inflamed, increasing the time it takes for pimples to go away, and that’s no good!
Genetics is another reason why you might get acne. If several of your family members have acneic skin, it’s more likely for you to have it as well. It’s not because there’s a specific gene that you inherit, but it’s because you might share either really oily skin or certain immune responses that lead to more frequent breakouts.
Now that we know the basics of what makes up naturally youthful skin, let’s talk about what you probably clicked on this post for:
How to build a skincare routine
There are three important things to keep in mind:
- More is not better when it comes to skin care, which applies to everyone and not just teens.
- Learn your genetic skin type so you have a good starting place to build a routine.
- Find what works for you. And this one’s really really important.
Before going any further, we commend that you figure out your skin type. This is crucial when trying to find the best products that work for your skin.
What is your evening routine?
The most important step in any skincare routine at any age is cleansing. (our guide to properly cleansing the face) The last thing you want to do is climb into bed with a day’s layer of oil, sweat, dirt, dust, and bacteria partying on your face.
You should pick something that’s gentle. Gentle will mean different things for different skin types.
For example, if you have dry skin you want to look at the consistency and pick a more milky or creamy cleanser because they’re much more nourishing to the skin. Compared to foaming cleansers which will be too stripping for them.
But gentle cleansers for those with oily skin can mean something completely different. Oily skin types work much better with foaming cleansers to break away excess sebum build-up. If you do have oily skin, you definitely want to make sure you’re cleansing well. So that the pores aren’t clogged witch can lead to breakouts. You can try gentle cleansers with salicylic acid to help break down any extra gunk in the pores.
Another tip for all skin types is you can look for products that are non-comedogenic, which means it’s formulated in a way that won’t cause clogged pores.
And in general, we would say you don’t need to use any scrubs on your precious skin, because it’s already doing the job on its own.
Remember the concept of “Keep It Stupid Simple“?
In terms of how often you should wash your face, generally just wash once in the morning and once at night.
But if you have dry skin, you could skip the morning cleanse and follow with your moisturizer (you should sill be washing your face, just stick to water instead of a cleanser).
If you have oily skin, it’s best to get in the habit of cleansing twice a day.
Cleanser recommendations for normal and dry skin types are:
The Ordinary Squalene Cleanser is one of my favorite oil-based cleansers. It’s super hydrating and non stripping. There’s also the CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser for Normal to Dry Skin, Krave Beauty’s Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser as well as La Roche Posay’s Hydrating Gentle Cleanser for Normal to Dry Sensitive skin.
Cleanser recommendations for oily skin types
There’s CeraVe’s Renewing Salicylic Acid Cleanser, CeraVe’s Foaming Cleanser for Oily Skin, Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser for Oily Skin, and La Roche Posay’s Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser.
Next, let’s talk about moisturizers. Yes, we skipped toners and serums.
When we’re young, we’re really lucky because our skin and body are already doing a lot of the work for us. So what you want to do is just help it out a little. Nourish your skin, protect, and prevent.
If you have dry skin, after you wash your face, you probably already know that you get that super tight feeling after even just a drop of water touches you face. So moisturizing is a complete given. And it’s important to nourish ourselves and our skin!
The role moisturizers play is that it forms basically a protective barrier on top of your skin to prevent anything from outside to penetrate in to prevent water from inside your epidermis to escape.
Moisturizer recommendations for normal and dry skin
The first one is Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Gel Cream for Extra Dry Skin. It is unscented and has sodium hyaluronate which is really really great for hydrating the skin. Also Weleda Skin Food Original Ultra-Rich Cream. It Contains calendula as well as chamomile extract which are both very soothing for the skin. And The Lab’s Oligo Hyaluronic Acid Calming Cream. It’s very good for sensitive and dry skin types, and it’s packed with hyaluronic acid which we know is super hydrating, and moisturizing for our skin. And last, another one of my favorites, Skin & Lab’s Barrierderm Intensive Cream. It’s very calming, very soothing, and contains fila seeds, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid to rebuild the skin barrier and soothe irritated skin. There’s also Sweet Chef’s Superfood and Vitamins Moisture Boost. It’s very rich yet lightweight, and it’s filled with vitamins A, B, Cs, and a bunch of super foods like reishi mushroom, chia seeds, ginseng and antioxidants to help soothe, nourish, and hydrate the skin.
Now, for oily skin!
It’s just as important to moisturize. Do not make the mistake of thinking “Just because I already have oil oozing from my pores, I don’t need to moisturize.” When you don’t moisturize, the skin will think it’s not nourished enough and will signal the pores to create even more oils, which is not what we want. Especially if you’re using any anti acne products, like over-the-counter spot treatment, drying lotions or even prescribed acne medication, which can all be really drying towards the skin.
You want to find a moisturizer that’s lightweight and can replenish and soothe the skin.
Moisturizer recommendations for oily and combination skin
First, we have CeraVe’s PM Moisturizer, which has ceramides and niacinamide. Second, Garnier’s SkinActive Three-in-One Face Moisturizer with Green Tea. It’s free of silicones, parabens or mineral oils. There’s also Simple’s Water Hydrating Boost Gel and Bliss’s What a Melon Hydrator. Lastly, there’s Earth to Skin Manuka Gel Cream which can also be used day and night even though it says just for the day time.
For acne prone skin there’s, Differin Soothing Moisturizer which fights acne causing bacteria while soothing the skin. In addition to that, there is La Roche Posay’s Effaclar Mat which contains salicylic acid, helping target excess oil.
With all the product recommendations we just gave for dry skin, normal skin, as well as oily-combo skin, it’s worth saying right now that for most of these products, you can use day and night. We’re just starting with a nighttime routine.
What is your morning routine?
Moving on to the morning routine.
Your morning routine will be pretty much the same. But you should always, always, ALWAYS end with sunscreen or SPF. We constantly tell you guys to protect your skin from UV damage, because we know just how crucial it really is. The earlier you start this step, the better your skin will be in the future.
SPF recommendations for normal and dry skin
The first one is Aveeno’s Protect and Hydrate SPF30. It has a lot of antioxidants and nourishing ingredients, as well as moisturizing agents. Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer with broad-spectrum SPF is also a good choice. It’s meant for all skin types so it’s great for normal skin, and the small sized bottle at 2.5 ounces is around $20, which isn’t too bad.
SPF recommendations for oily and combination skin
A tip when looking for sunscreen for oily or acne-prone skin is to find ones that are oil-free and non comedogenic, so it won’t be too greasy and block your pores. Here are some of our favorites.
CeraVe’s AM Facial Moisturizer has SPF 30, ceramides, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid. Also, Neutrogena’s Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer with SPF 50. It has a lightweight formula that is oil free and non comedogenic and you can use as a two-in-one, but it’s always better to apply both moisturizer and sunscreen for solid protection.
I love to talk about the benefits of exfoliating in the right way with the right ingredients. Chemical exfoliants help lift and gently buff away dead skin. But like we said, your skin in your teenage years is already doing that for you.
You don’t want to prematurely strip away and be too harsh on your skin, and start using such potent ingredients for nothing.
But in saying that, if you have some issues with breakouts, you can definitely look for a cleanser or moisturizer that contains salicylic acid, which is also known as BHA to sink into the pores to break up the bacteria, that are causing some of these breakouts.
One thing to note is that teen acne will not magically disappear by using salicylic acid everyday, because it also depends on hormones and also what you’re eating, like sugar or milk or cheese … .
If you want to start adding an additional product into the routine, you can try a toner that’s designed to help further hydrate the skin, because a little hydration never hurt nobody. And if anything, it’s what everyone –no matter the age– can benefit from.
A quick note on serums
Serums generally are little bottles of magic filled with potent active ingredients to target specific skincare concerns.
Because of your youth, it is not necessary for you to use serums yet. You don’t really need anti-aging, you don’t really have a lot of sunspots or dark circles, or discoloration and hyperpigmentation to correct. You could use a little bit of hydration and moisture, but you can get that from toners and moisturizers.
So in general, save your money, spend it on a good cleanser, a good moisturizer or a good SPF.
Here are some tips and suggestions you can follow to make your transition a little easier, and get you on the right track for clear healthy skin.
1. Avoid the so called at-home acne treatments
I mean the ones that claim to get rid of pimples overnight.
- One: pimples take at least a day to fully recover;
- And two: they’re only going to dry out the area and further irritate the skin.
You might be desperate, searching for toothpaste, lemons… or whatever is lying around the house to try and cure that zit. Sadly, these natural remedies are only temporary solutions that can cause more irritation the more you rely on them. They’re not actually treating the skin.
The main takeaway here is quick fixes, most of the time, just help the problem at a surface level. It’s always better to dig deep and fix the problem at the root.
2. It’s okey to wear makeup
That being said, if you do wear makeup, it’s really, really, really important to practice good hygiene.
Before you go to bed, make sure to remove your foundation, concealer, eye shadow, mascara… anything that you’ve worn on your face even if it’s just sunscreen. It might be tempting to just pass out and get a few extra minutes of sleep. But you won’t be happy when you suddenly start staring at a zit, the size of a mountain on your face the next morning.
Every once in a while, wash your brushes and sponges to keep them clean and the bacteria away from your face. And never share your makeup because nothing screams, “infection!” more than dirty or used products.
And of course, it’s always great to wash our hands before applying makeup, and even wash our hands before we cleanse our face so that we don’t get grimy bacterias onto our face.
3. Look within
The last thing we’ll talk about, sometimes, to win the battle with acne, you have to look within.
A good tip to follow is to drink lots of water and to have a healthy well balanced diet.
This means eat your greens, eat your proteins, eat your carbs, eat your healthy fats. Do not indulge too much, but you know, if want a cookie or a donut here and there, it’s totally fine. Don’t starve yourself and don’t eliminate these things out of your diets completely.
And when it comes to managing stress, try to find ways to channel and cope with your emotional stress. Any sort of physical or deep breathing activity helps to release tension and give you that daily pick-me-up. Whether it is working out, going for a little jog, or sitting down for five seconds to just focus on your breath or even try meditating.
And with all that being said, if you tried everything and you just can’t seem to shake the cute but not wanted growth on our face, it’s time that we would suggest you could potentially look into consulting with a dermatologist to give you professional advice on what you can do for your skin.
Thank you guys for sticking around to the end of this post, and see you next week.
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