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Advice for parents on how to help their teens have clear, acne free skin

When choosing skincare for your teen look for two ingredients: Salicylic acid and Tea tree oil. That is because the Salicylic acid unclogs the pores while the Tea tree oil diminishes the acne bacteria count.

Perhaps your teen is one of the lucky ones that can get away with using only two products for their acne, one with Salicylic acid and the other with  Tea tree oil. In other words, if your teen has just started getting pimples or if their acne is very mild, they can get away with just two products as long as one contains Salicylic acid and the other Tea tree oil. But most teens need to layer a few more products and this post is for them.

For most teens, more products are necessary because of the increased oil production which feeds the acne bacteria which then creates the red inflamed spots.

In this post I write about suitable cleansers, toners, spot treatment and I give a bit of dietary advice. Teens with more severe acne would benefit from serums, creams, masks and more changes to their dietary habits, but that is the topic of another post.

Advice for parents on how to help their teens have clear, acne free skin

Two cleansers to rotate Ideally, your teen should have two different cleansers to rotate- one with Salicylic acid which will unclog the pores, the other one with Tea tree oil which will diminish the acne bacteria count.

Can your teen use only one cleanser? For some teens with very mild acne and occasional breakouts, even only one of these products would improve their complexion.

If you can start with buying only one cleanser which one do you choose? Go for the Tea tree oil one because Salicylic acid needs to be used in conjunction with Tea tree oil, otherwise it makes matters a bit worse before it helps the skin.

I don't mean to alarm you, Salicylic acid  is a very important ingredient, but when it unclogs the pores for the first time it can unsettle the skin. This has happened to me and millions of others who report purging of the skin before it gets better. I "discovered" that when used with Tea tree oil the skin does not experience "purging". So start with Tea tree oil cleanser then get the Salicylic acid cleanser and ask your teen to use them alternatively.

How long to leave the cleanser on the skin? This is a very important point.  Ask your teen to keep the lather of the cleanser on their face and massage it gently for up to 2 minutes.

In the photo below is a wonderfully effective and inexpensive cleanser by Cosrx with Salicylic acid. I get it from eBay directly from Korea. It costs around £8 and shipping is free. Usually arrives in a week. It lasts a very long time. You can certainly use a different cleanser just make sure it has Salicylic acid around 2%.

In the photo below is the Tea tree oil  body wash from The Body shop ( they have a face wash as well, but I don't have a photo of it at the moment ) and you will find it super effective and inexpensive. Register for The Body shop newsletter online and you will get emails when they have 30% and even 40% off products.

Two toners to rotate Ideally, similarly to using the cleansers, your teen should alternate between using two toners, one with Salicylic acid, the other with Tea tree oil. If you can only purchase one toner at this time, get the Tee tree oil one and later the Salicylic acid one. If using one toner in the morning and the other in the evening sounds like too much work to your teen, suggest that they simply alternate between the toners each day. They will soon discover that when using the products consistently the results are brilliant.

It is important to apply the toners liberally until the skin is wet. Then the toner is to be left to dry on the skin. Obviously, one needs to be careful not to get the product into the eyes. The toners I recommend are in the photos below and can be used for body acne care as well.

Body acne care Body acne needs the same type of care as acne on the face. The cleaners in the previous photos can be used to wash the body as well. It is important to leave the lather on the skin for up to 2 minutes before rinsing it off. Then your teen can use the same face toners for the body acne.

How to use toners for body acne ? First, get a your Tea tree toner into a spray bottle as shown in the photo below. Then it is ready for your teen to spray it over the shoulders, chest and back. Do the same with the Salicylic acid toner- simply pour some into a spray bottle.

As with the cleansers, should you want to start by purchasing only one toner, go for the Tea tree one. The one with Salicylic acid needs to be used in conjunction with Tea tree oil products, otherwise the skin may experience "purging" or get worse before it gets better.  

In the photo below MIZON AHA & BHA Daily clean toner. Unlike the Tea tree oil products this toner smells nice and is very effective. Once again I get it from eBay for about £10. It ships directly from Korea and it arrives within 10 days.

How to rotate the toners for body acne? Ideally, your teen will start with using one toner in the morning then the other in the evening. If that sounds like too much work, using one toner one day and the other toner the following day is an option.

How to use the toners for body acne It is very important to spray liberally until the skin is wet. The skin needs to be wet with product. Next, your teen needs to massage it in gently in order to spread the toner everywhere and then wait for it to dry on the skin.

In the photo below The Body shop, Tea tree oil skin clearing and mattifying toner I get it online from The Body shop website or in store. I usually wait for 30 % and 40% off and stock up on products. The full price for this toner is £6 but with so many special offers constantly going on in The Body shop, I have never paid a full price. It is worth registering for their newsletter and then you'll get informed of when they have special offers on. 

What can you do if your teen has severe to moderate body acne? If the body acne is moderate to severe, the Tea tree toner can be made more potent with 5 or so drops of Tea tree essential oil and 2 drops of Peppermint essential oil.

For occasional, big, red spots,  I highly recommend Shiseido's Pureness blemish targeting gel as one option. It is super effective when applied several times during the day. Not just once or twice, one can apply it 5-10 times.  It is a clear gel which disappears when applied. I love it because it  can be applied even over make up. It contains Salicylic acid. Although it is expensive, it is worth it. It is usually £20, but when I find it for £10 or £15 on eBay I stock up.

But this gel is only meant to treat  the occasional lonesome pimple. The kind that appear right before the monthly period. Or the kind that appear on the shoulders as a result of irritation to the skin from coarse fabric or the strap of a heavy bag. But one cannot treat acne with this tiny gel. I have two gels at the moment, one at home, the other is in my handbag. I hardly every need to use them, but when I do, they work so fast I am always impressed.

Here is a cheaper product for individual pimples - Tea tree oil by The Body shop. This a is pre-diluted oil which can be used straight on the pimples. It is effective, but not as good at reducing the size of red, inflamed spots as the Shiseido gel. I think that thick, very oily skin will benefit from the Shiseido gel more. The Body shop Tea tree oil is £8.50 for 10ml or £12 for 20ml.

Sunblock must be used everyday, especially when using exfoliating products and Tea tree oil containing products. The sunblock below is Missha All around safe block velvet finish sun milk SPF 50+ PA++++ and it is brilliant for oily, acne prone skin. It does not leave a white cast but makes the skin feel velvety soft. This is the most comfortable sunscreen I have ever used. I highly recommend it.

I get it from eBay for about £10 and it lasts a long time. Missha have different sunblocks and I have tried the Sebum zero one, but that one is a disaster- very oily, heavy and leaves a white cast. It is a very unpleasant product to use so don't get the Sebum zero.

Good dietary habits A lot can be said on the topic, but in my experience with teens, it is best to gently push them to have more nutritious foods rather than ask them to cut out some less nutritious ones.  

For example, it would be great if your teen can get into the habit of eating a large, green salad every day. And I mean LARGE. 

This is how I do it. Pizza is not super nutritious, but it is super delicious to most teens. And the same goes for Coca-Cola. I say "Yes" to the occasional pizza with cola for lunch or dinner but push for a large salad to be eaten as well.  The teens around me are happy to eat a large salad if they can also have pizza and cola.

As one of my friends says, you've got to coax your teen to have the healthy foods regularly, each day. And then gradually help them figure out how to have less of the foods which seem to aggravate acne such as diary and sugar.

Lemonade for clear skin? How about drinking some lemon in water as it is brilliant  for the liver? It is important to look after the liver especially as it detoxifies and removes excess hormones.

And it would be best to sweeten the lemonade with either Xylitol or Erythritol because they are much healthier than sugar.  If you are unfamiliar with either of those, when you research them you will be impressed. They do not spike up the  blood sugar like refined sugar, but look and taste the same as sugar. It is important to start talking to your teen about the effects of high carb foods on the blood sugar and how continuously high blood sugar messes up the hormones which then affects the skin negatively.  

More tips to follow in another post. Let me know if you have questions about the recommendations in this post.

Till next time, Milu

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