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Teenager with acne
Skin Concerns


6 min read.

Teenagers have a lot going on..  Exams, friendship groups, navigating their way as they transform from childhood into adulthood. And often ACNE.  

Throughout this period their 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 to help you and your teenager. 

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.

Before we start with what to do. 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, medication such as accutane is not to be handed out like candy at the first sight of a pimple. A dermatologist trained in skincare or a good skincare professional can prescribe topical routines with great results. 

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.. Look to build skin health into their daily routine of life, just as you would brushing teeth.

So, what does a teen skincare routine look like?  

For us there is nothing foaming, stripping, abrasive (i.e. scrubs) or anything that will dry the skin out. The focus is on creating a balance between both active and soothing ingredients to nurture and support what is effectively a compromised skin barrier. 



  1. Cleansing is an absolute fundamental to keeping skin clean and clear, removing sweat, excess sebum and dead skin that can block pores causing inflammation. 

Choose a cleanser that is effective without stripping the skin of essential moisture that can leave it tight.  For oilier teenage skins, cleansers with Salicylic acid are best. 


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

Then remove cleanser, sweat and sebum with a face cloth. This acts as a gentle but mechanical exfoliation, helping slough off those dead skin cells.

  1. Moisturiser - it is a common misconception that oily / teenage skins do not need moisturising, this is not the case with all skin in need go hydration. A moisturiser acts to nourish and protect the skin from external aggressors which is important for compromised, blemish prone skins. 

Choose a multi-functional moisturiser that ideally includes an antioxidant of vitamin B / niacinamide.  This ingredient helps control excess sebum production and helps build a resilient skin barrier.

A recommended moisturiser for teenage skins:

Alpha H Clear Skin Daily Hydrator Gel, AED 120

HOW TO USE: Apply a thin layer across the whole face.

  1. Oil Free Sun Protection - SPF is always a good idea but more so when blemishes are present. UV rays on active blemishes can lead to long term hyperpigmentation, so your temporary blemish can end up having a more permanent effect. 

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 and this time removing all the daily grime and pollutants, sun cream, sweat and sebum build up from the skin.  Removing everything with a wet face cloth again. 
  1. Treat - Salicylic Acid is the no.1 preferred ingredient choice for oily, congested, acne prone skins and should be incorporated into almost all congested / acne prone teen routines to help decongest pores and encourage skin renewal.

Clear Skin Tonic is a fantastic anti-inflammatory toner, with 2% Salicylic Acid and can be used all over the skin. With natural anti-inflammatory properties of Chamomile, Arnica, Thyme and Cucumber

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

Blemish Control Gel also has 2% Salicylic Acid, along with 4% Niacinamide not build skin resilience and is an antibacterial formula. With Tea Tree and Eucalyptus. 

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

A great option to start is 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 and cause hyperpigmentation. 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 attempt, leave it alone and use a targeted treatment gel to help reduce the size.


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 bacterial, with yellow/green heads or spots under the skin. 

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

To 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.

Another treatment available is Retinoids.  A favourite for those struggling to control acne with the above methods is Tretinoin, available to buy through your local pharmasist and is one of the most studied retinoids. It helps in a number of ways that can be hugely effectively, by helping to stoping cells clumping together.  All can be used as part of a comprehensive acne programme. 

Available from 0.01% to 0.1% the main side effect can be irritation so ask a physician to help you with this.  

For now, 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.


Written by:

Claire Miller

Founder of The Skincare Edit

Advanced Aesthetic Facialist for over 20 years 

Awards in:

Advanced Skin Science, 

Cosmetic Practice,

Advanced Skin Health Assessment 

A visiting consultant at Women's only private members club - Kintsugi - The Art of Beautiful Repair. A moment for self and personal growth that educates and enlightens.  A new era of wellbeing designed to encourage connection and conversation.  

Claire remains a consulting expert here at The Skincare Edit. For guidance please get in touch via our Contact Form


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