Teen Skin Care: Acne Troubleshooting

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Teenagers are going through a lot, including hormonal changes that can cause acne. Hormones called androgens increase in teens during puberty, making the skin’s oil glands get larger and make more sebum, an oily substance that moisturizes and protects the skin—and, in large amounts, helps clog pores, leading to acne (1). Hormonal changes surrounding the menstrual period can, in the same manner, increase acne struggles. Additionally, genetics, medications, stress, harsh scrubbing of the skin, and cosmetics can cause acne or make it worse.

7 Top Tips

  1. Wash regularly—but not too frequently. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD), dermatologists recommend that people with acne wash their face when they wake up, before they go to bed, and when they have a sweaty face (2). The Academy notes that washing more often than that can irritate the skin, making acne worse—and the same goes for scrubbing the face and other acne-prone skin. An option like the Clarifying Toner Pads from Good For You Girls can help after gym class or other workouts, when teens feel a quick touch-up is necessary.
  2. Go for skin care products, cosmetics, and sun care products that don’t clog pores. These products are labeled “won’t clog pores,” “non-comedogenic,” “non-acnegenic,” or “oil free” (2). Using skin care products that don’t meet this standard will make face-washing an uphill battle. And, speaking of cosmetics, clean it off before working out—Teen Vogue interviewed dermatologist Dr. Janelle Vega, who explained: “Sweat is released through visible pores in the skin. When makeup covers those pores, the barrier doesn’t allow the sweat to make it to the surface of the skin, which can lead to clogged pores. The trapped debris and bacteria are a perfect breeding ground for acne bumps and zits” (3)
  3. Moisturize. It may feel counterintuitive, but the truth is that the body often creates sebum in response to dryness. So while targeted acne treatments that dry out the skin may be useful on a pimple, it’s important that teens moisturize after cleansing, because if the whole face dries out, that can boost sebum production even more. A product like Reviva’s Coconut Charcoal Moisturizing Day Crème offers moisture along with detoxifying charcoal and bacteria-fighting tea tree oil, a solid combination for teen skin.
  4. Consider multiple approaches to clearing acne. The AAD points out that bacteria, clogged pores, oil, and inflammation are four different causes, requiring different approaches (2). Benzoyl peroxide decreases P. acnes bacteria; retinoids, like adapalene gel, do dual duty, unclogging pores and reducing oiliness; and salicylic acid eases inflammation and unclogs pores. However, while it may seem like a time-saver to hand your customers multiple products right off the bat, AAD notes that users should wait 4-6 weeks after starting one product to start another: First of all, it takes time for these products to work, and second of all, trying too many products at once can stress the skin, worsening acne.
  5. Recommend against popping pimples. Popping pimples at home can push some of the contents of the pimple deeper into the skin, increasing inflammation and potentially causing pain, and bacteria on the hands can lead to an infection (4). Dermatologists can safely remove pimples, although customers can and should try products available in-store first.
  6. Wash everything that touches the face. Everything that touches a person’s face can transmit bacteria. The towel a teen uses to dry their skin after washing their face? Their pillowcase, pillow, and sheets? Hats or headbands? Over-the-ear headphones? Phones themselves? All of this comes bearing bacteria, dead skin cells, and skin oils that can clog pores. Remind your customers to toss everything in the laundry once a week and to wipe down phones and headphones with sanitizer regularly, and offer natural detergents like those from Mrs. Meyers and Grove Co. and natural disinfectant wipes like those from Seventh Generation. Frequent handwashing, too, combined with a general resolution to avoid touching the face, can prevent transmission of bacteria and oils.
  7. What you eat, shows up on your skin. “Research shows that [diet] is undeniably one of the most important parts of the treatment plan for many skin conditions,” says Kelly Papantoniou, M.D., F.A.A.D., Medical Director of Simply Dermatology, PLLC (6). She points to foods rich in vitamins C, E, and D, as well as carotenoids, B-carotene, lutein, lycopene, and omega fatty acids as being major skin-helpers. A diet rich in veggies and low in dairy, too, can help provide antioxidants, help provide a low glycemic index, and help reduce inflammation. Drinking plenty of water, too, can help in two ways: By providing better hydration, and by filling in for high-sugar, high-caffeine drinks like soda.

Sebaceous Filaments

In the quest to destroy all blackheads, little brown dots on the nose can be a source of endless frustration—there are so many of them, and nothing anyone does seems to make them go away.

Here’s why: They’re not blackheads. They’re sebaceous filaments, and they’re natural.

According to Medical News Today, sebaceous filaments are structures that allow sebum to flow to the surface of the skin, which is precisely what they’re supposed to do (7). They can become visible on people whose bodies are overproducing sebum, which can fill up the filaments until they resemble enlarged, darkened pores. That overproduction of sebum can cause whiteheads or blackheads, but the filaments themselves are nothing to be concerned about.

Trying to squeeze or extract these filaments can injure the skin, cause scarring, and damage the pore. Controlling the amount of oil on the skin can help keep the pores clear, which may help minimize the appearance of sebaceous filaments.

Scars Happen

While all these strategies can help minimize acne, teenagers are liable to get pimples regardless—and with those pimples can come scars. Be prepared to help out after the fact as well by offering scar gels and microdermabrasion scrubs. Derma E offers a Reduce Acne Scars set that can help.

Being a teen is tough, but in this area, you can provide much-needed solutions. Remind your customers to be patient and stick to their skin care routine, and they’ll start seeing results. WF