‘Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth...oh nevermind; you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded. But trust
‘Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth…oh nevermind; you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded. But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself… and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before… you and how fabulous you really looked…’
Everybody’s Free, Baz Luhrmann
I know it doesn’t see like it now, but seriously, you are beautiful. And your skin, and the accompanying acne, pimples, blemishes and oil, is something that seems huge right now, but know that everyone else has this problem. Except that Becky With The Good Hair, she’s a unicorn, ignore her.
To get through your teens is a bit of a mission, skin-wise. You’re trying to understand the beauty industry, which is a business that makes you feel ugly, and makes you think you need to spend a lot of money. Take a deep breath, start with the basics, and you’ll set your 30-year-old self up with awesome skin. Which she will thank you for.
What skin type do you have?
Every beauty article starts telling you about what you should do about combination skin, or oily skin, but how do you know what type of skin you have? It’s pretty easy to figure out. Wash your face and then don’t apply moisturiser/ toner/ makeup for an hour. How does it feel?
- If it feels tight, itchy, dry and scaly, you have dry or sensitive skin
- If you have oil appearing everywhere and your skin looks greasy, then you have oily skin
- If it feels comfortable, then you have ordinary skin
- If you have tight, dry areas and an oily T-Zone (nose and forehead) then you have combination skin.
Now you’ve got that sorted, it’s time to deal with what’s going on. As a teenager, your hormones are spiking, which is why you’ll likely have oily skin. This skin oil is called sebum. It’s naturally occurring, but it blocks your pores, trapping bacteria in, which leads to blackheads and pimples. Also, you’re producing keratin, which is a good thing, but it makes your skin thicker too.
That extra sebum in your skin is actually awesome in your 30’s and 40’s, as it means you get less wrinkles. But that doesn’t help now.
Wash your face
Wash your face twice a day. Not more than that. And, don’t be tempted to use a cleaner that foams and stings. That squeaky-clean feeling makes your skin produce double the sebum because it thinks it’s drying out. So, morning and night, gently wash your face with tepid water and a gentle, non-foaming cleanser.
If you wear makeup, think about the K-Beauty ‘double-cleanse’. Because there is always some makeup left on your skin. So use a foaming cleanser first, then an oil based one for the second clean. That seems weird, but oil attracts oil, helping to actually remove oils from makeup. And don’t be tempted to skip washing your face or use a makeup wipe- not only are wipes bad for the environment, but they don’t do a great job of cleaning.
If you have oily skin, you might be inclined to skip this step, but don’t. Just use a lighter moisturiser. There are some awesome products out there for teenage skin. Dry and sensitive skin can definitely use a richer, creamier moisturiser, while an oily/ combo skin can use something light, with no oil in it.
When looking for moisturiser, look for a product’s comedogenic rating. This refers to how likely it is to block your pores. For instance, rose hip oil is non-comedogenic. Coconut oil is highly comedogenic.
Aside from washing your face and using the appropriate moisturiser, there are some specific things you can do to help reduce acne.
-Use a gentle exfoliant once or twice a week. Don’t scrub your skin off; simply apply in circles, gently, using your fingertips.
–Take zinc supplements. Iinc deficiency is common, and it directly affects your skin, hair and nails. A good quality supplement is worth considering to help reduce breakouts.
-Talk to your doctor. There are risks associated with acne medication, and if you have sensitive skin many of them will leave your skin red, dry, and incredibly sore. Some contraceptive pills can help, for women. If your acne is painful, not helped by anything else, and you’re miserable—go see a doctor.
-A facemask once a week is an awesome idea- and you can do it with things you have in the kitchen. Experiment a bit. Natural yoghurt is slightly acidic and helps to calm and cleanse. Oats and honey are gentle, and can be mixed with yoghurt to calm, purify and exfoliate skin. Some fruits like avocado, papaya, and kiwifruit offer some unique benefits. To start, try honey and yoghurt to draw out impurities.
-Toothpaste doesn’t help pimples. If you want spot treatments, then Manuka oil is a Kiwi local plant, and is more effective than tea tree oil at killing the bacteria that cause pimples. It can be strong, so use wisely.
-DON’T PICK OR SQUEEZE. If you must, then sterilise your hands and the skin on the face first. Then, use a clean tissue to gently resolve the issue. Wash the area afterwards to avoid bacteria transfer.
-Toner isn’t essential but it helps to prep your skin for moisture and clears away all impurities. Never use one with alcohol in it, as it dries out the skin and won’t help with the acne.
Always wear sunscreen
The sun can give you cancer, it leads to pigmentation around healing skin where pimples were, and it dries out the skin and will prematurely age you.
Find a light, non-greasy sunscreen that you feel good wearing. Try a zinc-based ‘mineral’ sunscreen rather than a chemical based one, if you think that sunscreen looks oily.
A good basic routine sets you up for life
Washing twice a day, moisturising morning and night, and always wearing sunscreen is the basic, non-negotiable skincare routine. You can add things like masks, toner, serums and other extras, but always have a good solid routine. It doesn’t have to use expensive products, and know that what works for your friends might not work for you. Trial and error will help you identify what works for you. And always remember; most people are too worried about their own pimples to care about yours.