Over 85% of teenagers are afflicted with acne breakouts, but taking preventative action can hugely help in assisting them to navigate this challenging period of their lives both physically as well as mentally.

Emma Hobson, Education Manager for the International Dermal Institute, shares her expert skincare tips on caring for teenage skin.

1. First thing’s first: develop a routine
Keeping a handle on teen breakouts isn’t easy, especially with so many raging hormones to contend with, however a great deal can be achieved when incorporating a good skin care routine. In order to avert skin problems teens need to use products that are designed for their specific skin concerns, formulated with ingredients that address oiliness, breakouts and congestion, and that contain a high volume of anti inflammatories helping heal the lesions and reduce the incidence of  pigmented scars.

2. The routine needs to be simple but effective
* Be diligent with your cleansing routine both a.m. and p.m. it is as important as brushing your teeth!  The majority of teens don’t cleanse their skin thoroughly enough, good cleansing can help reduce skin congestion.  I’d advise a clay based cleanser, these are fantastic at removing excess skin oil and deep cleansing the skin, and can be used also as a mini masque. Alternatively use a soap free, facial wash that is balanced to the pH of the skin. By cleansing the skin you ensure the skin remains healthy, clean and smooth and you have a fresh ‘palette’ to apply the remainder of your skin care.

* Exfoliation helps keep the skin from becoming congested. Exfoliate 2 to 3 times per week to remove dirt, debris, excess sebum and dead skin and prevent blockages, it will help keep a smooth texture and eradicate the bumps (underlying congestion). Salicylic acid is a fantastic great ingredient to look out for if your prone to blackheads and congestion. It  works by releasing congestion in the follicles. If the skin is free for inflamed spots then you can use a scrub 2 to 3 times a week to keep the skin smooth and clear of debris that said it is important to avoid scrubs if you have sensitive skin as they can irritate or if you have spots as they can spread the infection. Never over0exfoliate, two to three times a week is sufficient. Over exfoliation can sensitise and irritate the skin and cause more breakouts than less!

* A bit of extra help; Try using a topical skin clearing (mattifying) product during the day and or a night time lotion that works hard to decongest the skin whilst you sleep.  Also there are some great sebum clearing masques that you can apply once or twice a week. Often teens think because their skin is so oily they should avoid using a moisturiser…wrong! Use a protective moisturiser that has sebum regulating ingredients and antibacterial ingredients so your skin is protected at the same time as the ingredients get to work on improving the condition of your skin.

* Avoid aggressive products – teens often mistakenly opt for aggressive products that strip the skin of its facial oil – they use toners and lotions that often contain alcohols such as SD alcohol. This will certainly strip the oil BUT it deprives the skin of its needed protection causing it to become more dehydrated and sensitised, but worst of all, doing this actually causes the skin to respond by producing even more oil to compensate! Avoid aggressive oil stripping products at all costs. Instead use an anti-bacterial, oil free, matiffying, lightweight moisturiser designed for oily contested skin that regulates the oil flow and make sure it also contains a sun block  to protect and keep skin hydrated and glowing.

Take a look at Dermalogica’s Clear Start range, a new skin care line for teens and young adults, which includes a really effective cleanser, emergency spot fix and lightweight daytime moisturiser.

3. Teens should become label readers to avoid ingredients in their products that…
* Cause congestion leading to breakouts. Sadly many teen products contain comedogenic ingredients. Look for products that clearly state they are non-comedogenic.

* Free of SD alcohol (found in teen products such as lotions, toners and gels) which can irritate, strip and dry out the skin.

4. Watch their skincare ingredients and what they eat
There are some fantastic ingredients to address the specific needs of a teenage skin these include:

Sebum regulating ingredients such as Nordihydroguaiaretic Acid, Niacinamide, Zinc Gluconate and Sarcosine.

Antibacterial ingredients such as Benzoyl Peroxide, Tea Tree Oil, Zinc Gluconate and Sulphate, Balm Mint and Rosemary Extract, Sulfur.

To reduce oil flow, use an ingredient called Enantia Chlorantha Bark which has a 36% in reduction in pore size,  49% reduction in sebum flow and 55% less skin shine.

Salicylic acid is a great ingredient to assist with skin congestion.

Dietary advice to help assist the skin: Apart from eating a healthy well balanced diet , avoid processed sugars. There is believed to be a link that the consumption of high levels of processed sugars may be a trigger for skin breakouts e.g  milk chocolate. Caroline Caperton, MD, MSPH, senior clinical research fellow in dermatology at the University of Miami states “Some of the ingredients in pure chocolate that might exacerbate acne are caffeine and its cousin theobromine, which is known to have pore-clogging properties.”

Avoid eating too much diary as it is also linked to stimulating increased breakouts.

There is anecdotal evidence to support the theory that a reduced-grain diet may curb acne.

Take a supplement of Zinc which aids skin healing.

5. Don’t squeeze!
Though teens just love to squeeze a spot they absolutely must avoid it. A spot (being an inflamed lesion) is filled with bacteria, and if you squeeze it you can spread the infection, cause damage to the very delicate skin and end up having not only more spots but a scar as a result.

6. Teens vs adults
Teens breakouts are different to adult breakouts. Hormones during puberty are different to the ones secreted through stress, both can lead to increased breakouts but they tend to be in different places on the face and body;

* Acne vulgaris (puberty) can be found on the upper back, chest and particularly on the face where it forms mainly on the ‘plumb’ of the cheeks and the middle of the forehead.  Teen acne unlike adult acne does heal much quicker, hangs around for less and doesn’t scar as badly as when we are adults suffering from acne.

* Menstrual breakouts are usually found around the sides of the chin.

* Stress/adult acne is common on the neck and under the jaw as well running along the hairline of the forehead and more randomly dispersed over the face. Stress acne does not generally have the same severity as acne vulgaris.