The teen-age years are an appropriate time to begin a healthy skincare routine. But most teens think that anything beyond cleansing or using an acne treatment is too complicated or unnecessary since their skin is still “young”. However, incorporating a complete skincare routine during this time is one step in creating a lifetime of healthy habits and preventing future skin issues such as acne scarring, sun damage, fine lines and discoloration.

An approximate age to begin is 13 or 14 years old. By this age, young adults know the importance of hygiene and have been taught to use an SPF. While the majority of teens have over-active, oily skin, a number are categorized as having optimal, normal, breakout free skin. Teen-aged skin is divided into these two categories but no matter which type, many are still unsure of how to care for their skin.

To help take the mystery out of teen-age skincare, here are some recommended products to maintain, or bring skin to, optimal condition.

Normal Skin

· A gentle, non-comedogenic cream or gel cleanser.
· An alcohol-free toner used after nighttime cleansing to prevent overdrying the skin.
· A daytime moisturizer with an SPF 15.
· An oil-free nighttime moisturizer.
· A once-a-week masque or gentle, microbead exfoliator to remove dead skin cell buildup and help reveal healthy, new skin. Since these are treatments and not cleansers, use on clean, damp skin and follow directions accordingly.

Oily, Breakout Prone Skin

· A gentle, non-comedogenic gel or foam based cleanser. For continuous breakouts, choose one with 1% or 2% salicylic acid (a beta-hydroxy acid that deep cleans pores without over drying. Choose percentage according to skin’s tolerance and effectiveness).
· An alcohol-free toner used after cleansing in the morning and evening.
· An oil-free daytime moisturizer with an SPF 15. Many teens with breakouts are hesitant to use a daytime moisturizer but this step is crucial since sun exposure can aggravate acne and lead to discoloration.
· An oil-free nighttime moisturizer. Again, many teens don’t want to add “more oil” to their skin, but all skin types need moisture, not oil.
· Acne spot treatment as needed. Choose a botanical based treatment (many are now incorporating plant extracts) since they’ll balance the pH of skin and prevent overdrying.
· A once-a-week microbead exfoliator or acne masque.

If salicylic acid is not effective, an over-the-counter acne vitamin supplement may be added. If neither is effective, switch to products containing benzoyl peroxide. If neither of these are effective, see a dermatologist.

For All Skin Types, Please Avoid:

· Picking at breakouts.
· Using harsh products such as rubbing alcohol as a toner.
· Keeping devices such as cell phones clean and sanitized. Avoid touching skin after touching surfaces such as computer keyboards or door handles.

By approximately 16-17 years, teens should incorporate an eye cream and a lip balm/treatment with SPF along with their regular routine. All age groups should use an oil-free sunscreen or sunblock with SPF 30 for outdoor sports or activities. Skincare routines may vary due to each person’s unique chemistry.

By devoting a few extra minutes each day to a complete skincare routine, teens can gently ease through these erratic years with confidence.