By BR Kellie
Kellie Confession: I was the poster girl for what not to do to your skin when I was a teenager, back when my skin was being ravaged by whiteheads, blackheads and bouts of angry red pimples.
Squeeze and pick? Did it. Got the scars to prove it too.
Covered my face in burning hot flannels in the hopes of it having who knows what effect? Did it.
Used the harshest products I could find to dry them out? Did it.
Yep, having nasty skin was no fun, especially as a teenager, because being a teenager can be hard enough as it is. What with worrying about school, worrying about friendships, worrying about potential love interests, family stuff, not to mention dealing with all those hormones zooming around – it’s fair to say having bad skin on top of all that does little to nothing for one’s sense of self-esteem and self-confidence.
In fact, research from the International Dermal Institute suggests that teenagers value clear skin more than enjoying life and having fun. Now there’s an eye opener, and a reason why it’s so important to instil good solid skincare knowledge into teens as soon as possible.
Lucky for teens today, unlike the dark old days, there’s more information out there about what causes breakouts, and there are better products, designed to treat teen skin properly, like the range from Clear Start by Dermalogica.
So what causes breakouts when you’re a teenager? Basically it’s partly down to genetics, and partly down to hormones, and it tends to start happening when a teen’s body gets its puberty party going on. Not to get too technical, but there are these things called androgen hormones and they stimulate hair growth and oil gland activity, which sends oil production into overdrive. Then the oil mixes with skin cells, which then clogs up, gets infected with bacteria, then becomes a breakout – which can occur on your face, neck, chest, back and shoulders, in the forms of blackheads, whiteheads, pimples and acne. (Fun, right? If only we could rsvp to that puberty party with a big fat NO…)
Thankfully it’s not all doom and gloom, and there are two simple things you can do to help reduce and even banish the breakouts (and neither involve giving up chocolate, whoop!).
Firstly, know what’s good for your skin, and what’s not. Be careful about what skincare products you use. Ditch any toners that are mentholated or alcohol-based, as these will strip the oil from your skin, causing the oil production to go into uber-overdrive, which will cause further clogging and skin inflammation. The key is to look for products that will work to reduce blocked pores, kill bacterial, control excess oil and reduce inflammation. Avoid products that have artificial fragrances and colours. If skin is sensitive look for soothing and cooling ingredients, and look out for a soap-free cleanser. One weird thing to avoid? Fabric softener. The majority of fabric softeners are made of animal fat and have artificial fragrances, two things that can further irritate skin.
Secondly - get a good skincare routine going - that means cleansing, toning and moisturising every morning and night. And add other products into your routine that are designed to unclog pores, such as gentle exfoliants, or even a mask, like Clear Start’ by Dermalogica’s Breakout Clearing Cooling Masque, which features salicylic acid to help un-clog pores as well as camphor and licorice extract to soothe the skin.
They say knowledge is power, and in this case it’s power over your pimples. So do tell, are you suffering from, or did you suffer from, breakouts as a teen? How did you care for your skin? Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew then? What advice would you give to a teen with skin issues? Chat away, because sharing is caring…