Encouraging tween or teenagers to adopt a simple skincare routine and follow it faithfully is one of the most lasting lessons you can pass on. Along with givens such as good hygiene, a healthy diet and realistic self-acceptance, sound skincare will help them through the tricky years during which obsessing about appearance seems unavoidable.
Children don't need beauty products, but girls especially are likely to want them. Keep littlies happy with their own tubes of sunscreen and lip balm. As puberty approaches, stock the family shower with a simple cleanser (I rate Cetaphil) and make body lotion a birthday present to get them into the swing of self-care.
Once adolescence is under way their needs and wants will change as hormones, peer pressure and marketing onslaughts hold sway, so it pays to start the skincare conversation early.
We asked Tracey Pedersen, national education manager for Clinique - a brand that popularised the teenage-friendly three-step cleanse, tone, moisturise skincare message from its founding in the late 1960s - what is needed for young skin. She recommends beginning with a simple routine of cleansing (to remove oil, dirt, pollution and any makeup) and moisturising twice a day for a fresh, healthy look. But her number one skin tip is sun protection.
Teenage skin can be a curious combination, with changes in the hormonal balance stimulating oil production and giving a shiny appearance, but it can often be dehydrated. Those who do a lot of exercise will need to replace moisture, and even oily skin needs hydrating.
For teens with early signs of blemishes, look for products with anti-bacterial and acne-fighting ingredients. (Examples include Clinique's Anti Blemish Cleanser and oil-free clearing moisturiser).
"Teenagers may find that as they feel stressed from studying, this stress often shows in the skin."
The good news is skin becomes stronger after the mid-teens. "We definitely recommend using additional products at this stage," says Pedersen. "Add in a gentle exfoliating lotion and polishing scrub to your routine. This removes dead skin cell layers, clogged pores and removes excess oil and dirt."
Boys also benefit from using face washes and scrubs. Encourage the use of a moisturiser combined with a sunscreen. For older girls, tinted moisturisers and blemish balm creams will likely appeal.
Less is more, says Prescription Skin Care's Angela Frazer, whose big teenage no-nos are sleeping with makeup on and grainy-beady exfoliators which she says can irritate an already inflamed young skin. Look instead for milder exfoliators and skin clearing ingredients such as fruit acids and salicylic acid which helps unclog pores.
"Teenagers tend to jump from product to product and they are usually the wrong products that are being used," says Frazer.
Pedersen is also cautious about exfoliation, saying if overdone it can lead to a oil stimulation. But it has a role in helping clear clogged and dead skin cells. (She recommends the use of Clinique's Clarifying Lotion twice a day).
"If you use a manual polishing scrub as well, use it two to three times a week. This will keep the skin perfectly balanced and improve the skin's texture. Never exfoliate over broken skin such as open pimples or blemishes, as this may cause the bacteria to spread and produce more pimples." (Same goes for picking spots, it just worsens the problem and may cause scarring or discolouration from damaged cells.) Clay masks can help regulate oil production and help with blackheads.