Back in 2013, when I wrote my first (and now bestselling) book, Love Your Skin, Love Yourself, I made a bold statement:
“I’ll be damned if I let acne or any other skin condition ravage or destroy my children’s beautiful skin and beautiful souls. Not gonna happen, not on my watch.”
Wow! Just rewriting those words brings it all back: the years I spent avoiding mirrors and windows, hiding in the back of a group photo, and plastering myself with makeup to cover the blackheads, white heads, and redness. It also brings back the feelings I had that because of my teen acne (and later on, adult acne), I didn’t get to have the great things in life that the girls with clear, glowing skin got to have. Things like the confidence to get up in front of people and speak my mind, have all the hottest guys fawning over me, stuff like that. But most importantly, I remember the paranoia–feeling that people were always staring at me, gossiping about how gross my skin was, thinking I was unclean.
Acne and other visible skin conditions REALLY take a toll on your mental, emotional, and spiritual health by affecting your self confidence, self-image, and feelings of self-worth.
I was dead serious when I wrote those words back in 2013.
I didn’t HAVE a teenager back then. I do now. And thanks to genetics (my husband also struggled with teen acne), my daughter is prone to breakouts. You know what I noticed though? It’s not because of her diet, or lack of sleep, or a sedentary lifestyle. She eats more fruits and veggies than I do, is better with sleep than I was at her age, and also is a classical ballet dancer (trains about 20 hours a week). It’s also not because of a lack of high quality skin care products and treatments–I make her a simple, yet targeted organic skin care regimen.
So what is the issue?
In a nutshell, she’s a typical teenager. She doesn’t always listen to me and has her head in the clouds half the time. In the morning before school, she’s usually rushing to get out the door, and at night when I ask “did you do your skin care?” she absentmindedly answers “Mm hmm.” But when I go to kiss her goodnight, it’s clear that she hasn’t.
What I realized is that when my daughter does what she’s supposed to do for her skin with her topical regimen, remembers to drink enough water, and is good with other aspects of hygiene (changing pillow cases and towels, not touching her face, etc), her skin is pretty clear. But like with many things, she needs a little help with reminders and motivation.
Here are a few of my favorite strategies to help my daughter manage her teen acne:
1. The My Skin Buddy? AKA “MSB”
Teens love technology. That’s no secret. So I figured, there must be a skin care gadget out there that would make my daughter want to use it on a daily basis. Enter the My Skin Buddy?(get free shipping on the MSB with code RPBEAUTY at www.myskinbuddy.com!). I found this at the International Congress of Esthetics and Spa a few years ago, and since then have noticed that many of my Create Your Skincare students who are aestheticians use and recommend it. This little gadget helps to deeply cleanse the skin without the danger of over-exfoliating or stripping the skin’s lipid barrier, like some of the other cleansing gadgets do. It also helps to support clear skin with the assistance of LED lights, and only takes a few minutes a day. My daughter likes this because she says it feels relaxing on her skin, and because it’s a gadget. She actually uses it almost every night, with the custom cleansing lotion and herbal toner I make her.
2. Fitness and wellness tracker apps
So much of having clear skin has to do with lifestyle factors like movement, sleep, and water. Luckily, there are many apps that track those things! Our favorite is the BellaBeat app, which you can use with or without their wearable wellness trackers to log things like water intake, meditation (it even comes with pre-recorded guided meditations), exercise, and menstrual cycle. If you purchase one of their products, you get additional tracking options. Apps like this gamify certain aspects of daily life that otherwise, might go unnoticed. It’s been hugely helpful for my daughter (and me too!).
2. Basic hygiene upgrade
Other than the “wash your face, brush your teeth, brush your hair” daily routine, there’s a lot that can be added to a teen’s hygiene routine to manage teen acne that might not seem immediately obvious. Pillow cases, sheets, wash cloths, and towels need to be changed regularly. Pathogenic bacteria, mold, and yeast can build up in linens, and exacerbate acne. Towels and washcloths should be changed daily, and if your teen has severe acne, so should pillowcases. If it’s not severe, 1 to 2 times a week is fine. Phone hygiene is also a must–cell phones accumulate high levels of microbes, most of which should NOT be on one’s face. Using ear buds or speaker/video options and sanitizing the phone often are a huge help.
3. Gua sha
Gua sha is an ancient practice that comes from Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda which uses a small gemstone (traditionally jade) or metal (copper) tool for massage that helps to support healthy lymphatic circulation. Gua sha was multiple skin benefits, and while it shouldn’t be used directly on pustular acne, there are many different protocols that can be done at home to support the skin and improve the appearance of teen acne. It’s especially helpful to help relieve congested/clogged pores and improve the appearance of acne scars. It’s also a gadget–though not an electronic one–and gua sha tools now come in a wide variety of shapes, cut from many beautifully colored stones. Gua sha can be overdone though (like anything else), so I recommend taking your teen to an acupuncturist or holistic aesthetician trained specifically in this modality to learn the right at-home technique.
4. Teen acne facials
If you’re a parent of a teen, you surely know that they are often more likely to listen to pretty much anyone else before they listen to you. Facials have been great for my daughter, not just because of the facial itself, but because she’ll actually have a conversation with the aesthetician and listens to what she says. It doesn’t matter that I’m an aesthetician myself–to her, I’m mom. Just make sure you find an aesthetician who vibes with your teen and also who is a good fit for your own philosophy towards skin care.
5. Focus on quality from the start
I’ll be blunt–most of the products marketed to teens are absolute crap. And most of the influencers they follow on social media are also peddling crap. But the teens (and sometimes the parents too) don’t have the ability to understand that, and it can be really hard to see past the marketing and hype. Explain to your teen how it works. Explain that influencers are paid to push products, and that their reviews are more often based on money than actual results. Explain that everyone’s skin and lifestyles are different, and that works for a rich celebrity or influencer who gets products for free is not necessarily what’s going to work for your teen. Explain that for many things in life, you get what you pay for, Skin care is one of those things.
6. Get your teen skin care help from someone who’s not you!
I can help! As someone who’s survived teen acne and also who’s a licensed aesthetician who makes skin care products, I’ve got street cred with the teens (tip: use the word “legit” when you describe me to your teen…works every time with mine!).
I’ve got a great video skin care course called Must Have Secrets for Gorgeous Skin that teaches exactly what strategies I used to clear up my acne and keep it gone. It’s a great companion to my book, Love Your Skin, Love Yourself, and both come with bonus DIY skin care recipes.
Get Must-Have Secrets for Gorgeous Skin + bonus recipes for just $29.97 HERE.
Get Love Your Skin, Love Yourself + different bonus recipes HERE.
Ultimately, it’s up to your teen to manage their acne.
You can buy them all the products and tools. You can give them reminders. You can buy them healthy food and supplements. You can take them to the spa. But they also need to learn that if they want something in life, they need to actually put all those tools and advice into action. Sometimes as a parent, we need to let things get worse before so they can get better. We also have to be OK with the fact that it’s not always going to be perfect (it’s usually NOT going to be perfect).
How do you help your kids manage their teen acne?
Please share your tips in the comments below!
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