Teenagers have a lot going on..  Exams, friendship groups, navigating their way as they transform from childhood into adulthood. It can be a tough time.

Throughout this time hormones (the androgen sex hormones) are surging and responsible for up to 85% of teenagers suffering with some degree of acne.

If you are a teenager or want to know how to support your growing child with their skin through this particularly challenging time, we wrote this for you.

Whilst acne is a super common issue at this age, we shouldn’t over look the negative effect it can have on the self esteem, social interactions and in some cases the potential result for lifelong scaring.

First, before we start, for the main part this editorial focuses on mild to moderate acne.  If you feel you or your teenager is at risk of scarring, has large nodular or cystic acne or has acne that covers their neck and back do consult a medical professional who can assess and prescribe medication if needed.   

On the flip side, strong medication such as accutane is not to be handed out like candy at the first sight of a pimple.

First, to understand how we treat teenage skin lets look at the causes in more detail.


  • Up to 85% of teenagers experience some degree of acne
  • The adrenal glands are responsible for stimulating the sebaceous glands to produce much more sebum than normal
  • This waxy oil makes the skin cells stick together and clog, through this the skin cannot shed dead skin cells as efficiently as it should 
  • This leads to pores and hair follicles becoming blocked
  • C-Bacteria builds resulting in inflammation and acne develops

The goods news is through understanding the causes of acne we can build effective, targeted skincare regimes, with result driven products, to aid and transform teen skin. 

The key here and we cannot stress this enough - consistency!

Due to the amount of oil being produced teens do not get to skip on their skincare routine.. The key is to build skin health into the daily routine of life, just as you would brushing your teeth

So, what does a teen skincare routine look like?   In line with our skin thinking you won’t find anything foaming, stripping, abrasive (i.e. scrubs) or anything that will dry the skin out in any of our recommendations here on the Edit.  We focus on creating a balance between both active and soothing ingredients to nurture and support the skin barrier health. 

But first and importly - how to use products?

A routine guide…


Cleanse, treat (if very oily/congested) moisturise, suncream.

  1. Cleansing - the absolute fundamental to keeping skin clean and clear.

Choose a cleanser that is effective without stripping the skin of essential moisture leaving it tight.

Apply cleanser directly onto dry skin. This makes the cleanser far more efficient and effective.  With damp hands massage the cleanser gently into the skin taking the time to massage into the pores, around the nose and up into the hairline.  Adding more water as needed.

Then remove every last trace of cleanser, sweat and sebum with a face cloth. This acts as a gentle but mechanical exfoliation and helps slough off those sticky dead skin cells.

  1. Moisturiser - it is a common misconception that oily skins do not need moisturising, although it is very important not to skip this step. A moisturiser acts to nourish and protect the skin from external aggressors which is super important for compromised, blemish prone skins. The most important part is choosing the right one for your skin type. 

For teenage skins we recommend a moisturiser with a dual function that ideally includes an antioxidant vitamin B / niacinamide.  This ingredient helps control excess sebum production and helps build a resilient skin barrier.

Our recommended moisturiser for teenage skins:

Alpha H Clear Skin Daily Hydrator Gel, AED 120

Apply a thin layer across the whole face.

  1. SPF - is essential for good skin health but also when blemishes are present or oil production is high it is really important to use a good broad spectrum spf.

UV rays on active blemishes can lead to longer term hyperpigmentation, so your temporary blemish can end up having a permanent effect. 

UV rays on this skin also leads to more sebum production, it’s our own natural in built sun protection system to block damaging free radicals from harming our DNA.  So blocking these rays has a multi beneficial effect for oily skins.

Choose an oil free spf designed for specifically for acne skin.   There are some incredible intelligent formulas that actively work to prevent breakouts and mattify the skin.


 Cleanse, treat, moisturise.

  1. Cleanse - the same way as directed in the morning but this time removing all the daily grime, sweat and sebum build up from the skin, again removing everything with a wet face cloth to finish.
  1. Treat - Salicylic Acid is the preferred choice for oily, congested, acne prone skins and should be incorporated into almost all teen routines regularly to help decongest pores and encourage skin renewal. Blemish spot treatments can also be helpful in calming and reducing bacteria and inflammation on active blemishes.  If very oily. congested this can be used with both morning and evening routine. 

These are our two favourites for teenage skin

Alpha H Clear Skin Tonic with 2% BHA, from AED 65

Alpha H Clear Skin Blemish Control Gel, from AED 35

  1. Moisturise - as you would do in the morning, apply a thin layer to face and neck.

Zinc deficiency can also be a cause.. Check out our.. 

A great option to start.. Alpha-H Clear Skin Starter Kit - perfect for gifting or as an introduction to a complete day and night system. 5 mini sizes to help restore skin clarity to oily, blemish-prone and congested skins.

Alpha H Clear Skin Start Kit, AED 180


  • Change the pillow in which you sleep on regularly, flipping it, then washing.
  • Consider taking a supplement that includes Zinc, which has anti inflammatory benefits and has been proven to aid mild to moderate acne 
  • Clean mobile phones with an alcohol wipe.
  • Dry not to pick, really, you are more likely to scar. If you must, because we know sometimes it cannot be helped, do it with clean hands, with a tissue, and go gently. If if does not come on the first, maximum second try, leave it alone and use a target treatment gel to help reduce the size.
  • If skin appears dull or lacking in hydration (water, not oil) Adding a hydrating Serum can be a great addition to the basic cleanse, moisturise, spf.

Teen skin typically has a compromised skin barrier it can have trouble maintaining adequate hydration levels leading skin to become further irritated and also producing more sebum.  In addition our environment, of air conditioning and in some places dry desert conditions require an additional boost to hydration.  Hydrated skin is healthy skin and builds an effective skin barrier.  We would recommend Alpha H Hydraulic 8 Serum, starting from AED59.


Our local Pharmacists who are trained health professionals can be a great resource and often prescribe options such as Benzoyl Peroxide starting at 2.5%.

This offers great anti-bacterial properties and can be added into your skincare routine, particularly when acne shows as more as yellow spots and/or pumps under the skin.

When using Salicylic Acid and Benzoyl Peroxide together (often highly recommended within a single treatment plan for moderate acne)  we suggest that you use them at different times of the day i.e.  Benzoyl Peroxide of a morning before serum/moisturiser, Salicylic Acid at night.  

Two summarise these two products

Salicylic acid  = best for blackheads, whiteheads and preventing breakouts by clearing away and breaking down excess waxy sebum.

Benzoyl peroxide = helps kill acne-causing bacteria beneath the skin. 

Finally good luck..

We hope this has helped build an understating and given you the tools to help you get started and establish good skin health practices from the teenage years and beyond.


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