As a parent, you’ll see your child go through many changes as they age and mature. One of the most obvious will be the appearance of their skin. If you’re at a loss for how to tackle skin changes with your tween or teen, don’t fret. Here is our guide for what to expect and how to treat tween and teenage skin.
Preteen/Tween Vs. Teenage Skin
First: a breakdown of how the skin changes during puberty. For most children, puberty will start sometime between the ages of seven to thirteen for girls and nine to fifteen for boys. This is the time when physical changes are most likely to appear - and accelerate - for your son or daughter.
Preteen (Tween) Skin
Preteens - or “tweens” - are defined as children between the ages of nine to twelve who (as the name suggests) are on the cusp of becoming teenagers. Eminence Organics Lead Skin Care Trainer Natalie Pergar tells us: “This is a big deal. It’s when we start to see changes in the skin and also the body.” During this time, hormones are just beginning to influence the look and feel of their skin. At age seven, sebum (oil) production increases, and it is during these prepubescent years that they may experience slight oiliness in their T-Zone and their first pimples.
How Skin Changes As A Teen
When tweens hit their teenage years, oiliness and breakouts really ramp up. Dr. Hooman Khorasani, Chief, Dermatologic and Cosmetic Surgery of Mount Sinai Health System tells us: “As teenagers (both male and female) go through puberty, they have a surge of testosterone and other androgenic hormones. One effect of this surge is an increase in sebum production." Sebum is an important component of healthy skin, helping to moisturize and protect it from the environment. However, as Dr. Khorasani says, "Sebum is the favorite “food” of the bacteria, p.acnes, and can cause an overgrowth of this bacteria on the skin, leading to breakouts.”
Sebum is the favorite “food” of the bacteria, p.acnes, and can cause an overgrowth of this bacteria on the skin, leading to breakouts.
Teens also produce more keratin, a protective protein that strengthens the skin, hair and nails. The result of an increase in keratin is - literally - a thicker skin. This contributes to blocked pores and congestion, which only amplify the likelihood of breakouts. Luckily, as Dr. Khorasani reminds us: “The good news is that most teenagers can manage these changes with appropriate hygiene and skin care.”
When To Start A Skin Care Routine
Most experts recommend starting a very basic skin care routine during the preteen years. This builds good skin care habits and ensures that by the time more major issues come along, there is a good, healthy base to work from.
How do you get a skin care routine going? Natalie advises: “It’s super easy. You don’t want to make it complicated, but you also want to make it a little bit of fun so they will do it on a regular basis.” Read on for what we advise for a tween and teen skin care routine.
The Basics: Tween & Teen Skin Care Routine
Rule number one: Keep it basic. You don’t want to overwhelm your tween or teen with your favorite Korean 10-step routine. Instead, keep it gentle and bare bones; there’s always room for them to add more products as they become more comfortable. This slow and steady approach also makes it easier to determine what ingredients and formulas work best for your child’s skin - and what has the potential to irritate it.
Making skin care a quick and easy addition to their morning and night routine makes it more likely that your tween or teen will follow through.
This basic skin care routine has two simple steps: cleanse and moisturize, day and night. Natalie suggests building skin care into your preteen's existing routine: “Why not make it part of that process? When they brush their teeth, they can wash their face. When they’re finished flossing, they can put on their moisturizer. If you create a skin care routine that way, they won’t miss when they’re supposed to do their home care.” Making skin care a quick and easy addition to a morning and night routine makes it more likely that your tween or teen will follow through.
step 1: Cleanse
When it comes to choosing a cleanser, stick to a gentle formula that will clear impurities and keep the skin hydrated. Natalie recommends our Stone Crop Gel Wash which gives a nice, light lather and contains beneficial ingredients like stone crop, chamomile and shea butter. Most importantly, like all Eminence Organics products, it is formulated without harmful chemicals that could irritate the skin.
step 2: Moisturize
To moisturize the skin, Natalie suggests choosing an SPF formula that will also provide protection against harmful UV rays. Her recommendation: “If you want to go with a moisturizer that has an SPF in it, I would definitely go with our Red Currant Protective Moisturizer SPF 40.” This lightweight moisturizer not only controls oil but also contains sustained release tea tree oil which helps reduce the visible signs of breakouts.
If you prefer to add an additional sun protection step to your tween or teen’s skin care routine, Natalie suggests pairing our Stone Crop Whip Moisturizer with your favorite sun care product. Like the Stone Crop Gel Wash, this gentle moisturizer is good for all skin types and contains deeply hydrating stone crop which brightens and moisturizes the skin.
Watch this video for Natalie’s tips for your pre-teen’s complexion:
The Extras: Makeup, Exfoliation & Acne
As your teen or tween becomes more comfortable with their two-step routine, they may want to branch out to include some additional products. As mentioned, you don’t want to overload them with options, but you can add steps strategically depending on what their skin is facing.
How To Remove Makeup
Makeup removal may come into play as your tween or teen starts experimenting with cosmetics. This is an essential step in maintaining a healthy complexion and preventing clogged pores and breakouts. To thoroughly remove makeup, we recommend adding an oil cleanser and an eye makeup remover to your teen or tween’s routine.
Double-cleansing is the best way to clear makeup from the complexion. Like attracts like, and washing with an oil cleanser first ensures that stubborn, oil-based makeup is drawn from the skin’s surface and properly swept away. Follow with your tween or teen’s daily cleanser to clear any remaining oil and impurities.
To remove eye shadow, liner and mascara, add an eye makeup remover to their routine. Our Herbal Eye Make-Up Remover is infused with gentle, natural ingredients like cucumber, lavender, calendula and chamomile. Teach your child to saturate a cotton pad with remover and hold it over each eye for ten seconds. This gives the product enough time to break up and dissolve eye makeup before it is gently wiped away.
Skin cell turnover is at its most efficient during tween and teen years and can be enhanced with regular exfoliation. The key here is to be gentle - young skin is often more sensitive. Eminence Organics Product Support Team Lead and licensed esthetician Alicia Hawthorne advises adding an exfoliation step around age twelve and sticking to once a week to start. For oily and/or problem skin, a gentle exfoliant like the Clear Skin Willow Bark Exfoliating Peel is a great pick. Simply swipe over a clean complexion before applying a moisturizer.
80% of people between the ages of eleven and thirty experience acne, and the brunt of breakouts tend to appear during puberty. In general, boys will experience more acne than girls due to a surge in testosterone that stimulates oil production. Girls, on the other hand, are more likely to develop hormonal acne in adulthood caused by their monthly cycles, pregnancy and menopause.
If acne flares up for your tween or teen, it’s ok to reach for a salicylic acid spot treatment. For minor breakouts, we recommend our Clear Skin Targeted Treatment, which contains tea tree oil, salicylic acid and buchu leaf extract to clear congestion, minimize the look of breakouts and shrink large pores. If they are experiencing more intense, chronic breakouts, we advise visiting a dermatologist or esthetician for expert advice on how to treat their acne.
It’s important to remember that acne isn’t just skin deep, and breakouts can affect self-esteem - especially at this young age. Be prepared to have conversations with your tween or teen about their skin and how acne affects their confidence. We recommend visiting an Eminence Organics partner spa where a licensed esthetician can coach them on what to expect from their skin and how best to treat it.
Good Skin Care Habits
Beyond a regular skin care routine, there are several things tweens and teens can do to maintain and improve their skin’s health. Here are a few simple habits to keep in mind and start early:
- Wash pillowcases regularly
- Keep phones clean
- Avoid touching the face
- Remove makeup before bed
- Drink plenty of water
- Don’t pick or pop pimples
- Wear SPF daily
- Avoid sun damage from tanning beds
Does your tween or teen have good skin care habits? We’d love to hear which products are part of their daily skin care routine. Share them with us in the comments below and join the conversation on social media.
This post was originally published in September 2019 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.