The teen years, a time of emerging adulthood and a time of confusing life changes. This is the time when teens are overly conscious of their appearance, mannerisms, speech, body language, and in particular how they are perceived by their peers.
During puberty, a teenager’s physiology goes through dramatic changes. One troublesome change for many teens is changes to their skin’s physiology which can result in acne, excessively oily skin, blackheads and clogged pores, and sensitized and red skin.
Chronic acne is likely the one change that teens can do without and is the source of much stress and anxiety during the teen years.
Prior to the teen years, teenagers receive little education on skin care – a combination of lack of information being disseminated to them and also just not being interested in the pre-teen years.
So, in addition to a host of new things to learn and changes to embrace during the teen years, teens must now learn how to care for their skin. And possibly, learn how to care for chronic acne skin – a daunting challenge even for mature adults.
However, skin care for teenagers is NOT the same as skin care for adults and it is important to know what the differences are. Mimicking your mom’s skin care routine (or your dad’s) might not be the best thing for you in your teen years.
Let’s take acne as a case study and examine how this differs between teens and adults.
Teenage Acne vs Adult Acne
Acne forms when pores get clogged with excess oil, dead skin cells, and other impurities.
However, the causes of acne in teenagers versus adults are quite different. While adult acne is mostly attributed to poor cleansing, hygiene, or diet, acne in teenagers is mostly due to hormonal changes.
Teen hormonal changes can cause over-production of sebum. Sebum are natural oils that help protect the skin – a good thing, but over-production of sebum can clog pores which in turn can lead to severe acne breakouts. Adults produce less sebum but this is not so for teens.
Any teen acne treatment or overall skin care plan has to focus on addressing the over-production of sebum, delaying the use of prescription meds as a last resort, and the avoidance of skin dehydration as this will just cause your body to produce more sebum to counteract the dryness.
A Skin Care Plan for Teenagers
The first rule is not to self-diagnose! All skin care clinics will offer teens a free skin examination and will advise you based on your skin type and skin condition what you need to do to address your skin issues whether it is acne, excess oil, redness and sensitivity, or blackheads and clogged pores.
A good clinician will also teach you how to cleanse, how to layer products, frequency of usage, and what to use during the day versus nighttime. While the clinician might recommend products you are not obligated to purchase and you are free to shop around if you so choose.
Taking the opportunity to speak to a skin care specialist is not a step to forego before implementing your Teen Skin Care Program – the skin care choices you make now will impact the appearance of your skin well into the future.
Listed below are 10 generalized skin care habits and tips for teens to adopt subject to any modifications your skin care advisor makes after your teen skin examination.
10 Tips on Skin Care for Teenagers
1. Wash your face twice a day
Wash your face each night, whether you wear makeup or not! Over the course of the day your face accumulates dirt, oil, dead skin cells and bacteria which a good nightly cleansing will get rid of. In addition, you should also wash your face in the morning. Don’t be lulled into thinking this might be excessive since you did wash your face the night before. We often underestimate the bacteria on our pillows as well as the oil from our hair that transfers onto our face after a night of sleep. These may all lead to breakouts, clogged pores, as well as textured and dull-looking skin. And while we are talking about pillows, we recommend that you use a fresh pillowcase each night – sounds like a lot of effort but it’s just a good hygiene habit to adopt in your teen years.
2. Try a weekly clay mask
Clay masks draw out impurities in your pores and minimizes the appearance of large pores in addition to clearing blackheads. Clay also helps to diminsh excess shine which is great if you have particularly oily skin. This in turn helps to reduce the occurrence of acne as well as reducing the appearance of irregular skin texture.
3. Use a cleanser suitable for your skin condition
If you have acne or oily skin you might be tempted into thinking that the best cleanser to use would be one with ingredients to dry out your skin. These harsh ingredients, however, may cause more damage to your skin. Excessively stripping the skin’s natural barrier may cause even more breakouts, irritation, and make your skin more susceptible to infection.
4. Wear sunscreen each and every day
Sunscreen is not just for the summer months but is rather a year round part of your skin care regimen. You might not think much about skin damage in the teen years as your skin seems resilient and recovers from sun damage fairly quickly. However, skin damage is cumulative and unprotected teen skin may eventually see the ill effects in later years – premature wrinkles and fine lines, skin discoloration, and even skin cancer.
5. Do not pick at your acne
It may be tempting to prick and pick at your acne but that can cause inflammation and make the healing process much longer. Also, you may end up with atrophic (pitted) scars or dark spots on your skin (post inflammatory hyperpigmentation) that may take years of extensive treatment to resolve.
6. It is ok to have a bit of oil on your skin
Having a moderate amount of oil naturally occurring on your skin isn’t bad. The natural oils produced by your skin acts as a protective layer. If too much of this oil is stripped away your skin will start producing even more oil as it enters emergency mode to make up for the loss of oil.
7. Retinol can help – start off with a lower strength
Retinol is a great topical treatment for acne as well as to clear pores and blackheads – but too strong of a dosage can irritate your skin. Start off with a lower strength retinol (0.3%) and work your way up to a higher dosage as your skin build up tolerance. Retinol increases your skin’s sensitivity to the sun’s UV rays so using sunscreen daily is a must.
8. Gentle chemical exfoliation can help resolve acne
Sebum is an oil produced by sebaceous glands in your skin that protects your skin and helps keep it moisturized. However, if layers of dead skin cells are blocking your pores, the sebum cannot exit the pores and will build up in the sebaceous gland, leading to acne. Products with salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and lactic acid are excellent choices to lift away dead skin cells and reveal healthy and radiant skin underneath.
9. Consider using products with Benzoyl Peroxide for acne spot treatments
Benzoyl peroxide works by killing the active bacteria called P.acnes which causes acne. Use this as a spot treatment to deal with those random acne breakouts that just seem to be part of the teen years.
10. Be patient and don’t become frustrated if you are not seeing results fast enough
Treating teen skin care conditions may take many years. Do not keep switching between treatments or products because you are not seeing quick results. There are no miracle treatments or products. Much of your treatment success will come from working with an empathetic skin care clinician; someone who will encourage you along the way to stick with your treatment regimen and will coach you on good skin care habits to take into adulthood.
And in Closing...
The teen years is a time of social and physiological changes and that comes with an abundance of stress and insecurities for teenagers.
At Essential Life Skin Care Clinic we are here to help teens with their skin care during these challenging years. To make it easy for teens to select an at-home skin care program we have created a series of unique 4-step skin care plans. These programs will put teens on the path to good skin care habits – and we supplement that with a choice of a video skin care consultation or an in-clinic skin examination.
Be sure to check out the details here: