For tweens and tender-skinned teens with mild acne- Phase I
Around the age of 12, the first signs of acne may appear, in the form of clogged pores and small bumps. At this age, the skin is typically too tender to apply acne products with strong exfoliating ingredients, but cleaning your skin with a product that doesn’t throw the skin off-balance is key. Look to Avene Skin Care for a full line of gentle cleansers, like Cleanance gel. As the skin becomes more resilient, switch to a product with 1% salicylic acid. SA is somewhat anti-inflammatory and exfoliates even inside the pore, so oils don’t get trapped. It prevents superficial break-outs, but doesn’t kill bacteria, so the other component to break-out control is a mild anti-bacterial lotion to control the harmful bacteria without stripping the beneficials. Here’s an example of a basic skin care regimen for mild acne.
Clean—with any gentle cleanser or just water
Hydrate—Dermalogica Clearing Mattifier
Clean—Dermalogica Clearing Skin Wash
Hydrate—Dermalogica Clearing Mattifier or Image Clear-Cell Restoring Serum
Try switching it up with a detoxifying mask like I-Mask Purifying Probiotic by Image Skincare. As your skin becomes more resilient in the teenage years, you might stick with the same AM routine, and for PM, try Dermalogica Sebum Clearing Masque, or move into the next phase…
For Teen Acne – Phase II (PM)
Clean/ Treat—Image Ormedic Cleanser, then apply Image Clear-Cell Clarifying Salicylic pads or Clear-Cell Tonic post-cleanse
Spot Treat—Dermalogica Break-out Control
Hydrate—Clear-Cell Restoring Serum or Ormedic Serum by Image
Introduce Professional Skin Treatments like routine facials by a qualified aesthetician trained to treat mild to moderate acne. Very mild salicylic peels can be used on certain skin types at this time, if OK’d by your dermatologist. The main difference between Phase I (PM) and Phase II (PM) is the addition of a stronger salicylic into the night routine: Clear-Cell Clarifying Pads or Tonic. The Restoring or Ormedic Serum helps the skin recover from any irritation or dryness associated with the SA and with the Break-out Control.
Mild to Moderate Teen Acne – phase III
If none of these options are enough, many dermatologists will add benzoyl peroxide to knock out the P-bacteria associated with acne. Dermalogica and Image offer BP products, that can be applied AM or PM, under moisturizer/serum. Like oral anti-biotics, BP should be used as a short-term treatment. Prolonged use can wipe out beneficial bacteria and cause irritation and free radical damage in the skin. Image Clear-Cell masque is a way to add a dose of BP once or twice a week, or only when you really need it.
Dermatologists have prescribed adapalene for acne for years, and it is now available over-the-counter. Adapalene is a gentle retinoid, synthesized to mimic the effects of vitamin A, without the inflammatory side effects Retin-A, so no red, flaky skin. When applied nightly, it regulates cell functions and helps control oil-production and break-outs. A little goes a long way, so make sure to read the package directions.
Clean/ Treat—Image Clear-Cell Clarifying Salicylic pads or Clear-Cell Tonic
Spot Treat—Dermalogica Break-out Control
Hydrate—Image Ormedic Serum or Clear-Cell Mattifying Moisturizer
Clean—Image Ormedic Cleanser
Spot Treat—Adapalene Gel (pea size amount to face, avoiding creases around nose and eyes) *
Hydrate—Clear-Cell Restoring Serum for moisture
*One or two nights a week, skip adapalene and mask with Image Clear Cell Medicated Acne Masque.
Protect your skin from UV!
Keep in mind that most of the products suggested here cause sun sensitivity, so a broad spectrum sunscreen is necessary and will help prevent post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from acne. The problem is that, despite a label that claims a product is non-comedogenic, some sunscreens include silicones and other ingredients that can contribute to clogged pores. If you are using a non-comedogenic sunscreen like Elta MD Clear SPF 46, but still breaking out, try Jane Iredale Powder-Me SPF. The powder is pressed on with a puff that can be washed between uses, and lays down a shield that protects but does not occlude the skin. Don’t be afraid, boys, it’s not makeup! It comes in three translucent shades that leave an invisible, matte finish.
how about a holistic approach to acne?
Clean/ Treat—Osmosis MD Purify Enzyme Cleanser or Image Ormedic Cleanser
Spot Treat—Bion Salicylic Glycolic Gel (for oily) or Follicle Clearing Lotion (for sensitive)
Hydrate—Bion Moisture Complex or Image Vital C Serum
Clean—Bion Antibacterial Cleanser (for oily skin) or Bacteriostat (for sensitive skin)
Spot Treat—Osmosis MD Clarify (pea size amount to face, avoiding creases around nose and eyes)
Hydrate—Osmosis Quench or Bion Moisture Complex
~One or two nights a week, mask with Bion Green Tea Clay Poultice.
Address the internal issues
Regular exercise and avoiding sugar and processed foods can also help prevent break-outs. The more diverse your food choices, the better, trying for at least 5 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day. If your diet has been poor, consider the Skin Clarifier 10-day Blemish Cleanse by Osmosis MD.
By far, one of the most important supplements to try for young, acne-prone skin is DIM (Diindolylmethane), a compound derived from cruciferous vegetables. It helps your body eliminate estrogen toxins and balances hormones, addressing the root cause of teen acne. DIM is found in Osmosis Environmental Detox or DIM-Evail by Designs for Health. I’ve seen DIM transform the skin in hundreds of patients and would definitely recommend it as a place to start. While prescriptions like isotretinoin and antibiotics address sebum production and bacteria, the come with multiple adverse side effects, and do not treat the root cause of teen acne, which is usually hormonal, environmental, and/or hereditary.
That said, follow your doctors recommendations when medications are needed. Always patch test any product if you have a history of contact dermatitis and allergies, and follow package directions for application.
Ivy Nowosad, LE