Acne, blackheads, and oily skin top the list of teen skin complaints, says Jessica Wu, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Los Angeles who specializes in medical and cosmetic dermatology. But by following her skin advice, you can keep your skin healthy and glowing.
The challenges of teen skin are sizable, says Dr. Wu. "Hormonal surges lead to enlargement of the oil glands, making teen skin oily and creating large pores and blackheads," she explains.
Even though you and your friends are going through puberty together, chances are your skin is looking and feeling a bit different from your BFF's. That means the skin tip that works for her might not work for you. Fortunately, you can easily find the right skin advice to choose from to keep your skin clear.
Here are the top skin tips for teen skin care:
- Cleanse carefully. If your skin is oily, you'll probably do well with a foaming or gel cleanser for daily skin care. Cleanse once a day, or twice if your skin gets very oily or dirty throughout the day. "If a teen girl wears makeup, it's best to remove eye makeup first, then cleanse with your fingertips and a gel or foaming cleanser," Wu says. If you play sports or work hard in PE class, wash your face (if you can) before you exercise. At the very least, she says, carry facial tissues to blot your skin. For teens who have dry rather than oily skin, try a milky cleanser and moisturizer.
- Wash off makeup before bed. Even if your best friend can sleep with her makeup on and look great, it's not a great idea. "If you're simply too exhausted to tie your hair back, take off makeup, and wash your face, at least use a pre-moistened cleansing wipe to take off makeup, dirt, and oil," Wu says. If you make a regular habit of sleeping in makeup, you can have an acne breakout or develop a bumpy rash called perioral or periocular dermatitis.
- Control oil. You want to keep down the shine without being harsh on your skin. According to Wu, there's a basic three-step process to oil control: (1) choose a salicylic acid cleanser, (2) use an oil-free primer to control shine, and (3) blot oil during the day using specialized cloths or tissues.
- Exfoliate. You need to exfoliate only once or twice a week, using a relatively gentle product. Don't scrub (it won't help with acne or blackheads) and don't over-exfoliate.
- Get the right acne products. If you have breakouts, try this approach: Wash your skin, use a toner, and then apply a medicated acne gel.
- Don't share makeup. "Do you want to share your friend's germs?" Wu asks. "It's an especially bad idea to share eye and lip products." So, as tempting as it is to try your friend's perfect new eye liner, get your own instead.
- Keep hands clean. One way to help your skin stay healthy is to protect it from dirt and too many germs. Wash your hands before you touch your face or touch up your makeup and regularly clean other surfaces that touch your skin, such as your phone.
- Choose spray hair products. If you notice that your acne breakouts cluster around your hairline or places where your hair often brushes your skin, consider that your hair product might be to blame. Make a switch to spray products, which, Wu says, "are less likely to cause breakouts."
- Skip the toothpaste and other old wives' tales. You might hear about many odd remedies to control acne, like putting toothpaste on your skin. In fact, this could just make skin worse if you are allergic to the ingredients. There's a ton of great skin care products on the market that can help you look your best.
- Wear sunscreen. You want your skin to look healthy now and for decades to come. Using sunblock also helps keep your acne breakouts from turning dark, Wu says. Pick an oil-free product, and look for cosmetics, like liquid foundation, that contain sunscreen.
- Avoid tanning beds. Get a healthy bronze glow with a self-tanner. Tanning beds and sun tanning can set you up for early wrinkles and increased skin cancer risk later on.
- Talk to a doctor. Seeing a dermatologist about acne can make a huge difference, especially if you have red, pus-filled pimples or large lumps under the skin that are painful or leaving scars. "Those can stay with you for a lifetime," Wu says. You might benefit from prescription cleansers and acne medication that can clear skin faster and more effectively than over-the-counter products.
Being a teen should be fun. Take charge of your skin care with these tips, and soon a clear complexion will put a smile back on your face.
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