Life can be pretty chaotic when you're a teenager. There's so much to do and so much is changing. Life is full on, your hormones are, too, and so is your developing personality; it's no wonder skin gets stressed. Your skin is the largest organ in your body: it's inevitable it will react to your changing environment, both inside and out.
For some lucky teenagers, the only skincare they ever have to worry about is scrubbing off the traces of last night's mascara before pitching up at school. For others, oily skin, breakouts and blemishes make daily life a misery. There are many products that claim to be good for teenage skin types, but some of them actually contain harsh ingredients which can make your skin problems worse.
Luckily, a few brands have designed skincare ranges specifically for young skin using gentle ingredients, where the aim is to encourage good skincare routines that will last a lifetime, and not create panic.
The Dermalogica Clean Start teen skincare range has eight products that feel and smell great and are designed to help keep young skin clear of pimples, and protected. Start with the wash-off face scrub, and end with the hit-the-spot concentrated spot treatment, which you can use as needed. The moisturisers both moisturise and hydrate your skin and contain SPF to protect it from the harmful UV rays of the sun which can damage your skin. No artificial fragrances, colours or mineral oil, and cruelty-free.
Green People's Oy! Range (OY stands for organic young – they're not shouting at you) aims to control unco-operative acne-prone skin naturally. The products use spot-zapping ingredients such as antibacterial willow bark and green tea to reduce inflammation, help remove excess oil and clear up blemishes. The all-natural ingredients mean the range is ideal for sensitive skin, too.
Our resident Teen Spy's best skincare spa products are from French brand Thalgo. "I love their face wash in particular [the Foaming Marine Cleanser]" she says, "as it works! It leaves me with clean and clear skin." Although not specifically targeted at teenagers, the Thalgo products contain marine ingredients, such as red algae extract, and so are especially good for spots as they heal the skin. She's also a fan of the Ultra-Matte Moisturising Fluid as it's not greasy but keeps skin soft and supple without being shiny. "If, like me, you have combination skin which manages to be dry and oily all at the same time (hello t-zone), your skin needs balancing moisturisers and cleansers as these will help to even out your complexion. Effective but gentle."
We love this story from Elizabeth Hallett: "Investing in my daughter's skin today is giving her the gift of confidence for the future."
So many teens suffer from poor self-esteem if they have problematic skin. Confidence is what we indeed want for our daughters. Elizabeth Hallett, a mother with a cosmetics background, spent years creating a natural skincare brand that would be gentle on her teenage daughter's face. Every Elizabeth's Daughter product has a natural ingredient selected for its unique health and well-being properties, and not one is tested on animals. The nourishing range may be slightly outside the average student's budget, but they make a great gift -- especially the starter set to see how you get on.
Temple Spa offer a range of gentle products using botanical ingredients aimed at oily or blemish-prone skin. The routine is a simple one to follow: cleanse, tone, moisturise twice a day, exfoliant scrub twice a week and face mask once a week. The uplifting Mediterranean scents should help to calm stressed out teens, too.
Start your routine with the gentle Dual Act gel-cream cleanser, follow up with the Toning Essence to refresh the skin, then apply a layer of Moisture to Go. This lightweight moisturiser helps to hydrate and rebalance the skin. Use the delicious smelling Breakfast Smoothie twice a week to gently remove the build-up of dead skin cells. Once a week, kick back and relax with the Purification mud mask which will help to draw out any impurities and reduce sebum - leaving skin oil-free.
Skincare products and ingredients teens should avoid
There are some ingredients teens should steer clear of:
Propylene glycol and benzoyl peroxide can irritate skin
Mineral oil, Petrolatum, and Silicones prevent your skin from breathing
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate is a foaming agent that can irritate skin
Alcohol/ethyl alcohol is another known skin irritant
Phthalates (which Teen Spy is not even sure how to pronounce) work as softeners in products such as cosmetics and shampoo; they can interfere with normal hormone levels
Artificial fragrances can irritate your skin and lead to allergies)
Synthetic colourants can cause allergic reactions.
As with spa treatments, there are certain products that you don't need until you actually need them. These include:
anything that says "anti-ageing" on it!
any product described as a "peel" (your skin is still renewing itself)
products that are too heavy (they might make your face greasy and give you spots).
Skincare products teens should embrace
Finally, one of the best things you can apply to teen skin is sunscreen. When you're outside in daylight, even when it's not strong summer sun, the sunlight is doing damage to your skin of which you can't be aware and the results of which you won't see for another 20 or 30 years. Wrinkles tomorrow? No? Then sunscreen today. Oh, the other best ways to look after your skin are to drink plenty of water and take some regular exercise. (But you knew that.)