Focus On: Teen Skin

Oh, to be 16 again. Fewer responsibilities, someone else making dinner every night (OK, I don’t cook, so that happens anyway), the comforting routine of school + after-school activities + part-time jobs where I had uniforms and made pennies. Sigh. A simpler time!

Something I wish I’d been more into in my teenage years was skincare. Makeup was no problem for me, but aside from washing my face twice a day and slapping on some Cetaphil I’d have my mother buy in bulk from Costco, I didn’t really take care of my skin. My sister and I joke sometimes that her daughter will never have the same problems we did growing up, appearance-wise. Years of personal experience have taught her mother how to manage curly hair (something our mother never did, because 75 percent of her kids had straight locks), and her local aunt is a skincare and makeup professional. Girlfriend will be set up to look like a normal human being!

Below are the things I wish someone had said to me when I was a teenager, and the things I’ll surely say to my niece.


Don’t pile foundation over your zits. 

Just like anything else in life, there’s a right and a wrong way to cover acne. Start with clean hands, and that includes under your fingernails. Apply a color-corrective concealer over the affected area, blending with your clean fingers, a clean brush, or clean beautyblender micro-mini. The key word here is clean. Do not, under any circumstances, try to cover acne with tools that are not immaculately clean. You don’t need to add any extra bacteria to an already-breaking-out face!


Don’t pile on the spot treatments, either. 

Yes, you should treat your acne spots with some kind of treatment. No, the one that works for your mom or your big sister or your best friend may not be right for you. Yes, you can use one morning and night. No, you may not put it on over your makeup, and no, you may not use it more than the recommended amount of uses on the back of the bottle because, “If a little works fast, a lot will work faster, right??” (Wrong.) Use only the ingredients that work for you, and yes, there may be some trial and error in the search for the perfect one. Talk to a skincare pro (Hello! I’m happy to help!) if you have any confusion.


Don’t even think about picking your spots.

Let my fine constellation of acne scars be a testament to the merit of this advice. Enough said.


Commit to cleansing.

Cleansing your skin twice daily is a habit that will pay off for decades to come. Who cares if anyone you know sees you without makeup on? Literally ten minutes ago I posted to the store’s social media a picture of myself in a face mask, with dirty hair, to boot. Now, who cares if you take bad care of your skin and look like somebody’s old sandal when you’re 70? Presumably you do. And that’s actually good! It means you’ll take better care of your face. You only have the one, remember!


Commit to treatment.

No, you probably don’t need retinols right now, and you probably don’t need a really serious vitamin C serum, yet, either, but you definitely need exfoliation and moisturizer. Whether you favor a gentle scrub (just don’t let me catch you using apricot!) or something full of fruit enzymes to eat away pore-clogging gunk, make sure you exfoliate once or twice a week. Moisturizer — yes, even on oily skin — should be done right after cleansing, to keep your skin in balance.



Did you catch that I yelled that at you? Good. I can’t say it loudly enough! Sunscreen will prevent sunburn, obviously, but when your skin is done burning and you have that charming little tan…what happens 15 years after that charming little tan is sun damage. And sun damage doesn’t go away easily, sometimes not even at all. Prevention is hands down the best remedy when it comes to skin problems!


Did I answer your questions? Great! If I missed something you’re wondering about, shoot me an email.


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