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During the preteen (9-12 years old) and teenage years (13+), many changes happen in the body that affect the skin. Hormone changes are responsible for the increased production of sebum (or oil) on the skin’s surface, and this excess oil production can clog the pores, leading to acne breakouts in the form of blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, and cysts. Young skin is resilient, but breakouts of zits can still lead to acne scarring in the form of dark spots and indentations on the skin. Skin type – dry skin, sensitive skin, oily skin, or combination skin – can also play a role in the types of skin concerns that teenagers experience. With so many skincare products available over the counter with ingredients you are unfamiliar with, it can be difficult to determine which skincare products are safe and effective for teenage skin. Luckily, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Michele Green has extensive experience generating skincare routines for teenagers and preteens, providing families with recommendations for products that will provide their teenagers with bright, clear, healthy skin.

Social media platforms may have teenagers believing that they require many different skincare products with brand names from companies such as Drunk Elephant. It is not uncommon to see teenagers browsing Sephora for all sorts of fancy products. In reality, skincare for teenagers is best when kept simple: a gentle cleanser to wash the face morning and night, a lightweight, nourishing moisturizer to keep the skin hydrated, and sun protection in the form of a broad-spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen. Some teenagers may benefit from a dedicated spot treatment, such as retinoid-based serums or pimple patches, to target and reduce blemishes on acne-prone skin. The best first step for determining the most effective skincare routine for your teenager’s individual needs is to schedule a consultation appointment with Dr. Michele Green.

Experienced board-certified dermatologist Dr. Michele Green has been expertly treating patients of all ages and skin types in her Upper East Side New York City dermatology office for more than 25 years. With her line of skincare products, MGSKINLABs, Dr. Green is highly knowledgeable in the safest, most effective ingredients for all skin types, including sensitive skin, oily skin, combination skin, and dry skin. Well-known for high patient satisfaction, Dr. Green has been frequently voted one of the best healthcare providers in New York City by such publications as Castle Connolly, Super Doctors, and New York Magazine.

What is the dermatologist-recommended teen skincare routine?

Teenagers are often exposed to influencers on social media who are sponsored to show their elaborate skincare routines with many different products, including lotions, creams, and face masks. But in reality, dermatologists recommend that teenagers keep their skincare routine very simple. There are only three essential steps to a teen skincare routine that should be followed daily:

  1. Face Wash – Twice daily (once in the morning and once before bed) with a gentle cleanser.
  2. Moisturize – With a light moisturizer after cleansing the skin twice a day
  3. Apply Sunscreen – In the morning, after cleansing and moisturizing, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30+

Some acne-prone patients can apply a spot treatment in between the cleansing and moisturizing steps of their skincare routine. Once the face has been thoroughly washed, patients can apply an acne serum containing pore-clearing ingredients, such as benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, and salicylic acid, niacinamide to hydrate the skin, or vitamin C for antioxidants and skin brightening. Exfoliating products, such as at-home chemical peels or exfoliating scrubs, can be useful for removing dead skin and other debris. However, teenagers should be cautious only to exfoliate the skin once a week, as exfoliants can cause redness, irritation, and dryness when used too frequently. If teens are applying makeup as a part of their daily routine, they should be advised to choose noncomedogenic makeup to avoid acne breakouts and blemishes.

What are the best products for teenage skin?

With many skincare products available both over the counter and a click away on Amazon, it can be difficult to know which products are safe and effective for your teenager. If you are feeling unsure of which products to choose, the best first step is always to consult a board-certified dermatologist, such as Dr. Green, who can determine your teen’s skin type and the types of products that will be most effective for them. As a rule of thumb, heavy products with harsh chemicals can disrupt the delicate skin barrier of young skin, leading to dryness and irritation. For that reason, it is important to find products that are gentle, preferably fragrance-free, and without too many harsh exfoliating ingredients. When introducing new products to your teen’s skincare routine, Dr. Green advises applying them slowly and gradually to ensure that they do not cause any irritation to the skin. Once your teen’s skincare routine has been established, consistency is important to maintain clear, bright skin. For specific product recommendations, continue reading below, and to determine a skincare routine that will be most specifically effective for your teenager, schedule your initial consultation with Dr. Green today.

Which face wash is good for teenagers?

Many people ask, “Which is the best face wash for teenage skin?” and the answer is that a gentle cleanser is typically the best option. A cleanser is another name for a face wash and works to clear the skin of excess oil, debris, dirt, makeup, and dead skin cells. Typically, teenagers should look for a face wash that is noncomedogenic and labeled as being for “sensitive skin.” From her proprietary MGSKINLABs, Dr. Green recommends her Gentle Cleanser for Sensitive Skin, which clears the skin of debris without stripping away the natural oils or damaging the skin barrier. The product can be used both in the morning and at night for clear, clean skin. Another gentle, fragrance-free product is the Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, which contains niacinamide and glycerin to reduce any inflammation in the skin, both ingredients that are safe for young skin.

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Which hydrating cleanser is best for tweens and teenagers with blemish-prone skin?

For patients who are experiencing acne breakouts or who have been blemish-prone in the past, it may be best to choose a cleanser with acne-fighting ingredients, such as ceramides, alpha hydroxy acids (AHA), beta hydroxy acids, or benzoyl peroxide. These acne-fighting cleansers can help gently exfoliate the skin to promote clear, smooth skin. One such product is Dr. Green’s Pore Minimizing Cleanser: Wash for Acne-Prone skin, which contains 2% salicylic acid and glycolic acid to break down debris that remains on the skin’s surface, such as excess oil, makeup, and dead skin cells, helping to replenish the skin. Neutrogena also has a salicylic acid-based cleanser with Vitamin C to help brighten the skin. Salicylic acid works to clear the pores, while vitamin C has anti-inflammatory properties to prevent and reduce the formation of zits on the skin. CeraVe’s Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser contains benzoyl peroxide, which is a highly effective chemical that clears away debris and excess oil in the pores to prevent acne. While powerful and effective, benzoyl peroxide can irritate the skin, so patients may want to stick with a salicylic acid-based product to avoid any irritation.

Which moisturizer is best for teenage skin?

Moisturizing is an essential step for any skincare routine, as a moisturizer keeps the skin hydrated for a smooth, clear, healthy look and feel. Generally, when determining the best moisturizer for teenage skin, look for a lightweight moisturizer that is rich in antioxidants and natural ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, and ceramides. For oily skin, it is best to apply an oil-free moisturizer. Moisturizer should be applied twice daily on skin that has just been cleansed – do not apply moisturizer on completely dry skin. Neutrogena has two options that are good for teenage skin, including the Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Face Gel, which contains niacinamide to hydrate the skin without clogging the pores, and Neutrogena Hydro Boost Face Moisturizer, which contains hyaluronic acid and is good for acne-prone skin, especially if patients are using other products that contain benzoyl peroxide.

Which serum is best for teenage skin?

A common question when it comes to teen skincare is, “Which serum is best for teenagers?” A serum is a skincare product that is designed with ingredients that target a specific skin condition or skin concern, including acne breakouts and hyperpigmentation. For the best results, serum should be applied after cleansing the skin but before applying moisturizer. The best serums for teenage skin are serums that address active acne breakouts and blemishes, such as those containing salicylic acid for cleansing the pores of debris and dead skin cells, niacinamide to hydrate the skin, and vitamin C to brighten areas of hyperpigmentation.

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What are the best skin care products for blemish-prone skin?

During puberty, the body undergoes many transformations, and hormones constantly fluctuate. One side effect of these hormone fluctuations is increased production of sebum, which is the oil that is formed on the skin’s surface. Sebum is necessary to keep the skin clear and hydrated, but too much sebum can cause the skin to look shiny and clog the pores, leading to acne breakouts. In fact, as many as 85% of all teenagers have to deal with acne breakouts during puberty, causing most patients to seek out skincare products that are effective at keeping the skin clear and smooth. To start, Dr. Green recommends finding an acne-fighting cleanser that contains ingredients such as salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or glycolic acid. These cleansers help to clear the pores of excess oil, dead skin cells, and other debris, such as dirt or makeup, reducing the likelihood of acne breakouts. Teenagers with blemish-prone skin can follow up their face wash with a serum, pimple patch, or spot treatment designed specifically to target active acne breakouts. One such product is the Differin Acne Treatment, which contains a retinoid known as adapalene in 0.1% concentration. The spot treatment works to dry out the pores to reduce excess oil and acne-causing bacteria.

After the spot treatment, patients should always moisturize the skin with an oil-free moisturizer. It is important to find a moisturizer that feels lightweight and provides hydration to the skin without blocking the pores. To do this, Dr. Green recommends MGSKINLAB’s Ultimately Sheer Hydrating Lotion: Moisturizer for Acne-Prone Skin, which contains hydrating ingredients, such as aloe vera glycerin that absorb into the skin to moisturize and control excess sebum production. The last step of every skincare routine should be the application of sunscreen of SPF 30+. For acne-prone skin, Dr. Green recommends finding a non-greasy sunscreen. Any makeup that is applied should be noncomedogenic and washed off at the end of every day to avoid breakouts.

What is the best lotion for oily skin?

Applying moisturizer is just as important for oily skin as it is for dry skin. An oily appearance to the skin occurs when excess sebum is produced on the skin’s surface. Often, patients with oily skin will over-compensate by washing their face more than twice a day. Though it is counter-intuitive, this will actually strip the skin of natural oils, which leads to even more production of sebum. The best way to prevent oily skin is to use a cleanser and a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer twice a day, such as the La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser containing ceramides and niacinamide, which are anti-inflammatory, hydrating ingredients, and the CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion, which is a noncomedogenic moisturizer that hydrates the skin without clogging the pores.

Teens with oily skin can also look for a toner that can be applied after the cleansing phase of their skincare routine to exfoliate the skin gently, clearing the pores of excess oil and dead skin cells and promoting skin cell turnover. One such toner that is effective for oily skin is the Byoma Brightening Toner, which contains lactic acid for exfoliation. The toner helps to control excess oil production and prepares the skin to receive other products, such as spot treatments and moisturizers.

Is SPF 30 sunscreen enough for teenage skin?

One of the most important steps of any skincare routine is the application of sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. It is essential to apply sunscreen every morning as a part of your skincare routine to prevent skin conditions such as hyperpigmentation, premature aging, and skin cancer. Sun damage that appears later in life can be prevented if you begin wearing sunscreen as a teenager, which is why it is an essential step for everyday skincare. Dr. Green recommends a broad-spectrum sunscreen, such as MGSKINLAB’s Hydrating Sunscreen SPF 50, which is a sheer, lightweight, mineral-based sunscreen for full skin protection. Some teens may find that their moisturizer contains sunscreen, such as Cetaphil’s oil-free daily moisturizer lotion with SPF 35 or CeraVe’s Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM with SPF 30. These are both great moisturizers, but a broad-spectrum sunscreen should be applied on top of them for the best sun protection results.

Is a foaming cleanser better than a non-foaming cleanser?

You may find that there are two broad categories of cleansers available: foaming cleansers and gel cleansers, and patients often wonder which is better. Neither is inherently better than the other, but there is a difference. Foaming cleansers are often harsher and may strip the skin of some natural oils. Patients with sensitive skin should be advised to find gel-based cleansers that are gentler and typically lighter.

Is retinol good for teenagers?

Patients often ask, “Is retinol good for teenage skin?” and the answer is: it depends. Retinol is a chemical that is highly effective at treating acne breakouts and blemish-prone skin. Products containing retinol work to decrease excess sebum production, exfoliate the skin to promote skin cell turnover, reduce inflammation, and prevent acne scarring. Some teenagers with severe acne breakouts may benefit from products that contain low concentrations of retinol. Others may find that the product is too irritating for the skin. Before trying a retinol-based product, it may be the best course of action to speak with a board-certified dermatologist, such as Dr. Green, to determine if the product is right for your teen.

Is hyaluronic acid good for teenage skin?

Hyaluronic acid is a molecule that can attract and bind up to 1000 times its weight in water, making it a highly effective ingredient for moisturizers. Hyaluronic acid occurs naturally in the body, making it unlikely to cause any irritation to the skin. It is generally considered safe for all skin types, including sensitive skin and dry skin, and many dermatologists recommend it as a beneficial ingredient for teenage skincare. Hyaluronic acid is typically found in oil-free moisturizers and is a good option for patients with oily or acne-prone skin.

Is niacinamide good for teenage skin?

Niacinamide, which is another name for Vitamin B3, is a safe and effective ingredient for teenagers. Working to reduce excess oil production, prevent inflammation, and reduce pore size, niacinamide is often found in acne-fighting cleansers, serums, and spot treatments to reduce breakouts. Products with niacinamide are often gentler ways of reducing acne breakouts than those containing benzoyl peroxide. Niacinamide can be found in concentrations of up to 10% before causing irritation or inflammation to the skin.

Is vitamin C good for teenage skin?

Vitamin C is an ingredient that can be used on all skin types to help reduce the appearance of acne scars and dark spots by brightening the skin. A powerful antioxidant, vitamin C can often be found on labels under the name ascorbic acid in concentrations of 10-20%. Vitamin C serums should be introduced to a teenager’s skincare routine gradually to avoid any potential irritation to the skin.

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Is salicylic acid good for teenage skin?

Salicylic acid is an effective ingredient for fighting acne breakouts for teenage skincare. A type of beta hydroxy acid (BHA), salicylic acid, is applied to the skin to clear the pores of excess oil, dead skin cells, and other debris, reduce sebum production, decrease inflammation, and exfoliate the skin. Salicylic acid can dry out the skin, so Dr. Green recommends always applying moisturizer after using a product that contains salicylic acid.

Is CeraVe good for teenage skin?

CeraVe is a brand that has several products that are safe and effective for teenage skin. For any brand, it is important to look for gentle cleansers, lightweight moisturizers, and non-greasy sunscreens of SPF 30 or higher. CeraVe products, such as the Acne Control Cleanser, Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM SPF 30, and Hydrating Cleanser, can all be purchased over the counter at a local pharmacy or online via Amazon.

Is Cetaphil good for teenage skin?

Cetaphil is another brand that has many products available that are safe and effective for teenage skin. Cetaphil is often known for creating gentle, lightweight cleansers, moisturizers, and spot treatments that are particularly good for sensitive skin, dry skin, and acne-prone skin. Cetaphil products can also be purchased over the counter or online.

What skincare should a teenager use?

It is easy to get bogged down in the amount of skincare products there are available these days, especially when influencers on social media are constantly promoting new products. In truth, teenage skincare should be simple with the following steps:

  1. A Gentle Cleanser, which should be applied morning and night to clean the face of excess oil, makeup, and other debris
  2. (Optional) Spot treatment or serum to target a specific skin condition, such as an active acne breakout or dark spots on the skin’s surface
  3. A lightweight moisturizer to hydrate the skin, which should be applied twice daily after the cleanser
  4. Sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher to prevent sun damage, which should be applied in the morning before going outside

How do I get started with the best skincare routine for my teenager?

With many skincare products available and skincare routines being shown on social media, it can be difficult to know what the best skincare routine for your teenager is. Ultimately, teenage skincare should be simple to create smooth, clear, bright, and hydrated skin. To create the most effective skincare routine, however, it is important to know your teenager’s skin type to choose products that will work best for them. An excellent first step in creating the skincare regimen that will be most effective for your teenager is to schedule a consultation appointment with New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Michele Green.

Dr. Michele Green is an internationally renowned board-certified dermatologist with over two and a half decades of experience providing her patients with the best non-invasive treatment options. Dr. Green takes a holistic approach and embraces a less-is-more philosophy, creating customized skincare routines and treatment plans that cater to the unique concerns and aesthetic goals of her patients. She is consistently identified as one of New York’s best dermatologists by Castle Connolly, New York Magazine, and Super Doctors for her dedication to her patients and expertise. Please call us at 212-535-3088 or email our New York City-based office today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Michele Green and improve your teenager’s skincare routine today.

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