Skincare is confusing as hell! There are SO many products, it’s almost impossible to know which ones are right for your skin. Everyone’s skin is different, but teen skin has a tough time – your body is going crazy with hormones, and that’s the one thing we all know has a huge impact on our skin. So, to keep things extra simple, we’re breaking it down into five simple rules to follow. Get to know these, and you’ll be set for better skin for your teens, 20s, and beyond!
But before we get into how to keep your skin on lockdown, we spoke to the experts to find out what was happening. The unanimous answer? Your hormonal surges! With rising levels of testosterone causing breakouts by increasing sebum levels (aka oil production), there’s a lot more oil to block your pores and encourage pimples. An increase in keratin (a protein that protects the cells of your skin’s upper layer), makes your skin thicker and can also cause pore blockages. So now you know why your skin is acting up, here’re five things you can do to ensure it’s on its best behavior:
1. Get to Know Your Skin
If there’s one thing everyone should do, it’s examine your skin so that you can identify what skin type you have. Knowing your skin type means you’ll be able to tailor your skincare regime to the unique needs of your skin, ensuring you use products, formulas, and ingredients that’ll help, rather than hinder. Your skin is partially hereditary (your environment, diet, and lifestyle also play a big role), so although you can’t change it, you can help to rebalance it with the right regime.
The most common skincare categories are; sensitive, dry, normal, oily, acne-prone (check out our full guide to treating acne here), and aging skin concerns – although in your teens, aging definitely isn’t something you need to worry about! It sounds easy to diagnose, but bear in mind your skin may be a combination of these skin categories and it may change during the year, (you may be oilier during the summer yet dry or combination during the winter). The three most important products that you should tailor to your skin type are your cleanser, toner, and moisturizer.
2. Cleanse Every Morning and Night
Timm Golüeke, leading dermatologist and founder of the Dr. Golüeke clinic in Munich, believes “as a teenager, the most important skincare step is cleansing.” Cleansing properly will help remove excess oil and other impurities, and Dr. Timm Golüeke advises looking for “anti-bacterial soaps, anti-bacterial creams, and oil-free moisturizers.”
In the morning, a cleanse with a face wash targeted for your skin type is ideal (like a gel or foam formula). At the end of the day, double cleansing is really important: By washing twice, you’ll thoroughly remove any SPF, makeup, oil, dirt, and debris that would otherwise block your pores – once just isn’t enough. Start with a cleansing oil, and then use a gel, foam or water-based cleanser. We know it may seem counterintuitive to use oil on potentially oily skin, but oil attracts oil, so a cleansing oil will be able to remove oil more effectively from your skin. Check out our full guide to double cleansing here.
Cleansing tips: Always use warm water to wash your face, if it’s too hot, it can dry out your skin and increase the likeliness of irritation, and even cause damage to your facial capillaries and the barrier function of the skin’s surface. Once your face is clean, use a splash of cold water to close your pores. Always moisturize after your skin is cleansed, this is particularly important at night, even if you have oily or acne-prone skin, as your face loses more moisture overnight than at any other point.
Ingredients to look for: Clay to extract oil (check out our fav drugstore clay masks), Benzoyl Peroxide, which is proven to help breakouts, salicylic acid and AHAs, which clean deep into pores, and tea tree oil and witch hazel, which are naturally antibacterial.
Things to avoid: Food-wise, avoid cow’s milk, and rich and heavy creams (dairy) to help with hormonal breakouts.
3. Exfoliate Regularly
Dr. Jessica Wu M.D, L.A. based dermatologist, founder of Jessica Wu Cosmeceuticals, adds that due to the hormonal surges which typically result in clogged pores, it’s really important to “keep your skin exfoliated.” Dr. Wu suggests looking for “clay containing products, which have natural antiseptic and astringent properties,” and recommends Skinfix Foaming Clay Cleanser, $20, to her teen patients. Chemical exfoliators containing AHAs and salicylic acid are also a great way to clean deep into your pores, as they’re able to penetrate more deeply and dissolve the glue that holds together debris in your pores.
Avoid exfoliating more than two or three times a week or you could end up over-exfoliating, and potentially damaging your skin. Be careful with physical exfoliators (granules and beads), if you exfoliate too much, this can actually make acne worse – you need to be gentle with your skin, so never rub too hard: exfoliating is about gently removing dead skin so that it doesn’t clog pores.
DIY Exfoliator: Cook together 1/2 cup of hot water and 1/3 cup oatmeal. Leave it to cool and then mix in 1 tablespoon of plain yoghurt (packed with lactic acid, an AHA), 1 tablespoon of honey (anti-inflammatory and antibacterial), 1 teaspoon of turmeric, (an awesome antiaging and antibacterial powerhouse), and an egg white for a hit of zinc and vitamin B. Apply a thin layer of the mask to your face for 10 to 15 minutes, then rinse with warm water.
4. DON’T Squeeze
As sebum production increases, the cells that line your pores become quite sticky. This sticky oil block your pores, trapping oil, and causing a raised bump to appear. By squeezing your spot, your skin will ‘crack’, and the sebum and bacteria will spread, worsening the inflammation and widening the breakout. By breaking the skin, you’re also more likely to be left with discoloration or scarring, which will end up being more difficult to get rid of than the initial pimple. So, no matter how tempted you are to squeeze that spot, don’t – you’ll only make it worse. Plus, you’re likely to have bacteria or dirt on your hands, which again, will aggravate your skin.
5. Feed Your Skin From Within
As your skin is more sensitive during your teens, you want to try and make sure you don’t aggravate your skin by eating acne or oil-causing foods. Celeb dermatologist Dr. Doris Day, author of Beyond Beautiful, explained that you should try and stay away from dairy, as it’s been shown to make acne worse due to the milk proteins (not the milk fats, so switching to low fat doesn’t help). Instead, try almond milk or oat milk. You should also try and stay clear of sugary, starchy foods (we know, it’s harder than it sounds), as these can also exacerbate skin woes, while sugar increases inflammation in the body. Instead, you should look for foods that are full of good fats – found in foods like salmon, avocados, and nuts.
The Best Products For Teen skin
We couldn’t give you the ultimate guide for teen skin, without a full round-up of some great products for teen skin:
Glow Recipe Blueberry Bounce Cleanser, $34: This 3-in-1 makeup remover, cleanser, and deep clarifying mask will hydrate the skin and help keep breakouts at bay with gentle AHA exfoliators.
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Cleansing Gel, $9: This oil-free cleanser is super lightweight and will gently remove any dirt, oil, or makeup from your skin while hydrating with hyaluronic acid.
COSRX One Step Original Clear Pad (70pcs), $23: Pre-saturated toning pads soaked in willow bark extract, hyaluronic acid, and tea tree, are the easiest way to sweep away leftover residue on your skin, hydrate, and detox. We love!
Clinique Clarifying Lotion 3, $25: This toner will leave your skin feeling fresh, clean and cool, as it contains witch hazel, it’ll purify and gently exfoliate the skin.
Ole Henriksen Balancing Force Oil Control Toner, $26: This contains oil busting glycolic, salicylic and lactic acids, which will de-clog your pores and helpl keep breakouts at bay.
Cosrx AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner, $35: Exfoliate while you tone; this AHA rich formula rempved dead skin cells and helps prevent the early development of whiteheads and blackheads. This also helps to treat flaky skin caused by lack of moisture.
Mario Badescu Salicylic Acid, $20: This lightweight, absorbing serum will help rebalance and hydrate your skin while gently exfoliating dead skin. Use as part of your nighttime routine, after toning and before moisturizer.
Clinique Moisture surge 72-hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator, $20: This dewy gel moisturizer contains skincare hero ingredient hyaluronic acid as well as aloe vera, to plump, soothe and hydrate your skin.
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water gel, $20: This award-winning oil-free moisturizer is highly absorbent and will nourish and hydrate, leaving your skin soft and glowing.
L’Oreal Clay Masks, $13: The collection feature 5 different masks, each mask is formulated with three types of clay (kaolin, montmorillonite, and Moroccan lava), which extract oil and purify pores, while different extracts offer skin-enhancing benefits depending on what your skin needs. Check out our full review here.
Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay, $9: We’re obsessed with this clay, which comes in powder form so you can DIY your own face masks (we’re still yet to finish a tub!). Clay is amazing at extracting oil and toxins in the skin. We like to keep it simple and mix it with a little chamomile water (just brew a tea bag and let the water cool), then leave it on your skin for 10 – 15 minutes. You can also combine the clay with activated charcoal powder, a skincare hero, or yogurt – there are so many combinations!
Our Favorite Spot Treatments:
Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, $17: This drying solution is amazing at taking down pimples overnight as it helps to dry out blemishes and reduce redness and inflammation. Check out why we love it so much here.
Witch Hazel: Witch hazel is ideal for treating acne as it’s a natural astringent, so it will help draw out bacteria, dirt, and oil in your skin. We love applying the Boots Tea Tree & Witch Hazel Spot Wand, $6, as it has a day and a night formula for 24-hour control.
Finally, now is a great time to start wearing SPF, find out why it’s SO important here. Let us know if you have any other questions about skincare in the comments below. x