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The best skincare for teenagers

The best skincare for teenagers
Hannah Pourhady
Writer and expert2 months ago
View Hannah Pourhady's profile

Teen skin can be a tough topic. Gone are the days where adolescents were using hairspray as setting spray, picking their skin to high heaven and sleeping in a full face of makeup – now, social media exposes kids to every skincare formula on the market, which can make it confusing to know what’s actually beneficial for them. 

While building good habits early in life can lay a great foundation for good skin later on, it’s important for teens and parents alike to understand which products and ingredients are suitable for younger skin, and which ones are causing them more harm than good. 

So, in the midst of Gen Alpha’s prestige skincare obsession, we meet the experts from Aveeno, The Ordinary, CeraVe and La Roche-Posay, to discover the best routines and formulas that are most appropriate for teen skin. 


Don’t Start Too Young 

While practising a skincare routine was something we as children viewed as ‘for adults only’, it’s now common practice for everyone to own a 12-step regime. But with brands placing more emphasis on active, potent ingredients that target specific skincare concerns (like pigmentation and ageing), how young is ‘too young’ for teenagers to begin using them? 

Rebecca Bennett, skin expert from Aveeno says:“It should be no surprise that teens and preteens are increasingly keen to adopt skincare routines, but maybe some skincare products should come with a warning – “not suitable for younger skin” – as they may contain active ingredients which can be unsuitable for young skin.”  

While there’s no hard and fast rule as to what age teens should start using skincare, Joseph Basham, science communications & partnership engagement manager from The Ordinary, explains, “Some teens may wish to introduce individual products, or even a simplistic routine focused on hydration and barrier support from their early teen years – maybe at 12-13 years old.” 

So, while your 8-year-old probably doesn’t need a fully loaded routine, skincare is not one-size-fits all! If you find your child is struggling with persistent concerns, such as dryness or dehydration, play it safe and opt for an ultra-gentle, no-frills cleanser and moisturiser that are suitable for sensitive skin. 


Consider Your Skin Type 

To help young people make the right beauty choices, it’s crucial to understand their skin type. Consider whether your teen has dry, oily, combination or sensitive skin in order to choose the products that will work best for their complexion. 

Adolescent skin can typically be prone to bacteria build up, resulting in blemishes and spots, so it’s important to protect and nourish the skin barrier at a young age, to help prevent further damage later on down the line. Rebecca explains, “During this time the oil glands in the skin start producing sebum, which, when mixed with dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, can cause blocked pores and even spots." 

As the topmost layer of the complexion, the skin barrier is designed to keep in moisture while keeping potentially harmful bacteria and allergens out. If it is damaged by ineffective routines or products that are too harsh for teenage skin, then your surface can become dry, stripped and even sensitive. 

By identifying your child’s skin type, you can eliminate the products that won’t be a good fit for their skin, and instead choose the right formulas that will provide your teen with a simple but effective routine. 


Avoid Potent or Abrasive Ingredients 

Although retinol appears to be the latest Gen Alpha beauty trend, it’s crucial to note that not every ingredient will be gentle enough for use on younger skin. 

"Teenagers should be encouraged to avoid strong or potent ingredients that can strip the barrier function and only introduce actives if there is a skin need,” agrees Dr Zainab Laftah, consultant dermatologist from La Roche-Posay. That means avoiding things like chemical peels, abrasive exfoliators and anti-ageing actives as a non-negotiable. 

Dr Laftah’s top recommendation for teen skin? A gentle cleansing gel enriched with salicylic acid, which is an oil soluble active that helps to unclog pores – like the Effaclar Micropeeling Cleansing Gel, infused with 2% salicylic acid and zinc. 

While it may not be suitable for sensitive skin types, salicylic acid is a common ingredient that dermatologists recommend for breakouts. It can be a good alternative to more abrasive ingredients like retinoids and direct vitamin Cs to tackle typical teenage skins concerns – like hormonal blemishes and excess oil production. 

Camille Pggi, medical training manager from CeraVe, confirms: “From the AHA family, salicylic acid will help unclog pores and clear the skin from excess sebum. Similarly, clay is also a great ingredient to help absorb the excess sebum found on teen skin.” 


Simplicity Is Key!

When it comes to building a teen skincare routine, remember that less is more! Overusing active ingredients and piling on the products can do more harm than good for gentle complexions that are ever-changing as they grow.

Joseph Basham tells us, “It’s important to keep things simple for teen skin in order to avoid disruption as it is maturing.”

His advice for an efficient teen skincare routine? “1. Prep! We recommend opting for a gentle cleanser that helps remove impurities and makeup, while respecting the skin barrier. Glucoside Foaming Cleanser is a great option for those who prefer a gentle foaming cleanser. Or the Squalane Cleanser is a balm-like cleanser ideal for makeup removal.”

“2. Treat. This section of your regime can include a serum to support hydration, the skin barrier and target blemish-prone skin."

Why not try the The INKEY List Niacinamide Serum to deliver skin barrier support while also helping to minimise texture, uneven tone and shine, thanks to oil-balancing niacinamide. For blemish prone skin, Revolution Skincare Salicylic Acid and Niacinamide Serum is a great for achieving clearer-looking, more even skin.

“3. Seal. Select a lightweight moisturiser to seal in moisture and supplement the skin with key hydration molecules; the Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA is a lightweight cream formula for all day hydration and barrier support.”


Our top 5 recommendations for young skin:

Shop all skincare at LOOKFANTASTIC

Hannah Pourhady
Writer and expert
View Hannah Pourhady's profile
Coming from a large family of mainly women has made me passionate about all things beauty; from routines passed down from my grandmother, to trying the latest products and trends. Starting over 7 years ago when I was an MUA at MAC Cosmetics, my love for makeup has now evolved into making sure my skincare creates the perfect canvas for any look. I love anything that can make my skin feel fresh & bright while accentuating my features – Bobbi Brown's Face Base is my favourite at the moment! My makeup sits so beautifully on top and make my skin feel so fresh and hydrated!