The Skin Care Routine Every Teen Needs, According to a Dermatologist

Maybe you already understand this, but puberty is wild . Between the ages of about 9 and 12, teenagers are trying to figure out how to act in the world, even when everything in them is changing. So who can blame them for switching to TikTok and maybe getting some skin care tips from Northie at the same time? While the Northwest may have access to every product in the world, we wanted to ask a real dermatologist what the average teen needs to keep their skin healthy. Here’s what we learned.

Start them early

No, a child doesn’t need an antioxidant serum, but it’s never too early to start talking about skin care and products.

“At an early age, start talking to your child about their skin while bathing. This is a great opportunity to educate them about your skin and how to properly care for it,” said Anand Geria, a board-certified dermatologist . “Let them explore the texture of products like shampoo, lotion, shower gel, and moisturizer. Keep your child close to you as you go about your skin care routine so they can ask questions and participate.”

Update their bathing schedule

This may be a controversial opinion, but young children can really bathe 1-2 times a week , if they do not sweat and get dirty every day. Did we mention that puberty changes everything? It’s time to gently tell your adult child that he needs daily bathing and skin care.

Have fun with some grown-up (but still gentle) cleansers and moisturizers. You can find multi-step teen skincare kits with masks and serums, but all your 9-12 year old kid really needs is a basic cleanser and moisturizer. (Try traditional drugstore bases from CeraVe or Cetaphil.)

“It can be helpful for teens to get used to a skin care routine,” Geria said. “At this age, teenagers are struggling with hormones that can cause acne and pimples. A normal teen skin care regimen should include bathing daily with a gentle cleanser followed by a moisturizer.”

Give them a step by step guide

Assuming they haven’t already learned more about skin care from TikTok than you did in a decade of reading Seventeen magazine, break down skin care for your teen into these simple steps from the American Academy of Dermatology :

  • Wet your face with warm water and apply a gentle cleanser with your fingertips.
  • Don’t rub!
  • Wash off with warm water and dry.
  • Apply a mild moisturizer.

Beyond the basics

Use sunscreen! Freckle filters are cute, but sun damage doesn’t age well.

“It’s also important to apply sunscreen every morning and throughout the day for people with sensitive skin,” Guerria said.

And at some point, preteen hormones will inevitably lead to an oily face, acne or clogged pores.

“Adolescents go through puberty at different speeds. If a teenager enters puberty, their skin is likely to be more oily than those who develop later. In the first case, additional anti-acne measures may be appropriate to reduce oily skin and clogged pores,” Guerria said.

Washing your face at night with a mild cleanser should be enough to treat mild acne, Guerria says, but children with more severe acne may need a product with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Because these ingredients can dry out the skin, a moisturizer is key.

Caution! What to avoid

Geria recommends that teenagers avoid the following ingredients because they may be too harsh or cause rashes on young skin:

  • Aroma
  • Dyes
  • Formaldehyde
  • Parabens
  • Exfoliating products

Finally, teach them ahead of time that picking at bumps is not good for glowing (and growing) skin.

“Maintaining a hands-off policy when it comes to the face will also help prevent teens from being irritated by acne, which can exacerbate breakouts,” Guerria said.


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