Teenagers are hypersensitive enough about their appearance. And yet just at the time when they least want to feel different, their skin changes dramatically. Excess oil and breakouts can wreck a teen's self-esteem, but a few simple skin-clearing steps can not only improve confidence, they will also help a teen establish a skincare routine that serves for life.
Do: Get serious about cleansing day and night. Dirty skin isn't the cause of acne but a build up of sebum and dead skin cells provide the perfect environment for bacteria. A gentle soap-free cleanser and clean flannel are perfect. A good one is Nellie Tier's Tier for Teens Wash ($29).
Don't: Over-cleanse. Zealously removing all traces of oil leaves the skin parched. Its response is to produce even more oil.
Do: Use products that contain anti-acne ingredients. (These don't have to be products formulated especially for teens.) Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are ingredients getting the gold stars.
Don't: Use heavy hair waxes and creams, which can cause breakouts around the hairline. Stick to lighter styling products.
Do: Get medical help if breakouts don't respond to gentle treatment. Serious acne needs expert attention.
Don't: Deviate too often. Routines thrive on consistency - and time. Don't give up after a week.
Do: Exfoliate. But be careful. The world of exfoliants has no level playing field. Avoid scrubs, which can be harsh and overstimulating, in favour of a product containing salicylic acid, like Biore's Triple Action Toner ($13.95).
Don't: Ignore sunscreen. The skin can't heal if it also has to contend with daily sun damage.
Do: Use blotting papers to remove excess oil (and shininess) caused by overactive hormones. But first ensure they are free of common irritants like menthol or alcohol.
Don't: Be unsympathetic. A pimple may look like a pimple to you but to a teenager it's a life-altering tragedy. Aesop's Control ($30) can help put things back into perspective by soothing and medicating blemish-prone skin.
Do: Keep it streamlined. Cleanse, exfoliate, disinfect (try Dermalogica's MediBac Overnight Clearing Gel, $81) and protect with sunscreen. If the skin needs it, use a lightweight moisturiser.
Read the label: Squalane
What to look for: Stick with us because this can get a little confusing ... squalane is different to squalene. Both are oils, but squalane (with an "a") is the saturated version, making it more stable, with a far superior shelf life. Both are used in beauty products, but squalane (from plants, usually olives) is the better oil.
How it works: Squalane is a highly effective moisturiser, helping to keep the skin hydrated, plump and soft. It's full of replenishing fatty acids and antioxidants and absorbs quickly. Non-comedogenic (it doesn't cause breakouts) and gentle, it is perfect for general skin care and products aimed more specifically at the eyes and lips.
Where to find it: Often, but not exclusively, used in natural products, it is widely available. Get it in moisturiser: NZ Spa Wild Daisy Body Lotion ($22.50); foundation, Elizabeth Arden Pure Finish Mineral Tinted Moisturiser ($72); and Jurlique Herbal Recovery Antioxidant Face Oil ($85).