On DermTV.com, I’ve aired a series of “Essential Skincare by the Decades,” in which I discussed your 20s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Today’s overdue episode is for those of you in your teens.
Teen years are tough on your skin because of the enormous impact on your skin of your rapidly changing and increasing sex hormones, which leads to excessive oil production. In guys, it’s caused by increasing testosterone levels, and in girls, it’s more related to the relative balance of estrogen and progesterone, which changes every month during your menstrual cycle, as well as testosterone which, yes, all girls also have.This is an issue because excess oil production makes your skin oily, shiny and sometimes large pored, but also, excess oil is what drives acne.
So your skin care efforts should be directed at least at restoring normal oil and water balance and also at controlling and preventing acne, and of course, regardless of your decade, sun protection.
Most teens need to start their day with a cleanser and a toner for oily or acne prone skin that remove excess oil without over-drying. Then, if there are pimples, apply your acne spot treatment lightly, directly on the pimples. And, an oil free or water-based sunscreen should be applied every day, followed by a moisturizer on your cheeks if, and only if, they are dry. Yes, it’s not fair, but your skin can be oily and dry at the same time which is called combination skin. Girls, if you’re using face makeup, it goes on last.
Next, during the day, you may accumulate excess oil on the surface of your face because of your over active oil glands. So, if you can’t get to a sink to wash during the day, carry pads soaked with toner to wipe off the extra oil when needed. You can make them yourself, or buy them already made in foil packets.
Last, at bedtime, cleanse and tone again, and if you have pimples, whether they’re whiteheads or blackheads, or red pimples, pustules or cysts, apply a glycolic based exfoliant lightly over your entire face to help heal the acne you have and to help prevent getting new lesions. Do that before you apply your acne spot treatments which should be different from the one you used in the morning since there are many effective actives and you should try to get the synergistic benefits of more than one.
I know teenage acne is tough because I have a lot of teenage patients whose skin I treat. But here's some great news: there are effective products out there to help your skin, and your teen years and your hormonally driven skin chaos will be over before you know it!