My Approach to Preteen & Teen Acne
In an ideal world young people would not need to use products, however during the pre-teen and teenage years our skin, along with the rest of our bodies, goes through some changes and it’s important to support it. The odd pimple is inevitable as hormones rage through the body but full-blown acne can be crippling to the self-esteem. Using a gentle, natural approach can really help to minimize break outs and prevent scarring in the future.
The problem with almost all drug store acne specific products is that they are all focused on killing the bacteria that can cause acne with no thought to the short or long-term health of the skin.
Killing the bacteria is a valid action but what if you could kill bacteria whilst calming inflammation and increasing the health of the skin at the same time?
Our skin is an organ of elimination. This means we need to excrete toxins out of our pores, it’s part of how we are made. If the surface of our skin, and pores, are not healthy then that process cannot happen effectively and pimples occur. During times of hormonal change our skin is put under a lot of pressure to excrete toxins and so it can feel like a losing battle. However, consider these 3 points and the likelihood of the breakouts becoming uncontrollable decreases hugely.
1. Great overall skin health. Use gentle products which support the skin’s natural processes.
Drug store acne fighting cleansers and treatments are very harsh on the skin. They strip the vital acid mantle (our protective layer) which prevents the skin from being able to heal itself. Use minimal products, and only ones which are very gentle.
2. Treat the inflammation as well as the bacteria. Decrease the inflammation and the skin will be in much better shape to excrete the toxins and function normally.
Acne and pimples are accompanied by redness, swelling and pain. When skin is in this state it cannot function or receive help. It’s in emergency shut down mode. So always treat the inflammation first, then the bacteria. There are many very effective acne-causing bacteria fighting ingredients that are also really gentle and promote healing.
3. Consider diet.
As always what we put into our bodies will show on the outside. Sugar, dairy and gluten (wheat) can be huge contributors to acne, particularly during these young years. It can often be identified if the acne is on the forehead or cheeks (chin area often signals the hormonal acne). It can feel overwhelming to restrict these foods but it may be the only way to eliminate the acne altogether. If you suspect diet is contributing, I suggest working with a naturopath who can support you.
The right products are key. As I mentioned the harsh drug store acne fighters will often cause more issues than solve. I recommend using products as gentle as possible to support the skin:
Jojoba & Calendula Calming Cleanser – Use this every night (and morning too if the skin is very oily). My cleansers will clean away dirt, excess oils, make-up and dirt effectively whilst clearing out pores and keeping the precious acid mantle intact.
White Willow & Clay Mask and Exfoliant – Use once or twice a week as a mask. Can also be used as a spot treatment when needed. White willow is a source of salicylic acid, a well-known acne fighter. This mask also contains clay to decongest the skin and lavender to heal and kill bacteria.
Rosehip & Calendula Calming Facial Oil – Only if needed, this facial oil will provide some moisture if the skin is dry. The oils in this are deeply anti-inflammatory, and combined with calendula, my favourite skin healer.
Lavender essential oil – Available from good health food stores. Lavender kills the bacteria whilst promoting skin healing. It is the best and simplest spot treatment! Use after cleansing, neat, on any areas affected.
I have many mothers of teenagers thanking me for helping their children and their skin. Just as we (try to) teach our children about a good healthy diet and exercise, its important we educate them about the dangers of using harsh skin products. Using natural and gentle products from the start can really set us up for a life of healthy skin.