Finding effective skin care products for teenagers who are dealing with a roller coaster of hormonal changes is no easy feat. Skin care for teens is especially tricky when coping with persistent acne, excess oil, dark spots, blackheads, dryness, and more. Although these changes are normal, chances are teens are still understanding their skin type. To help, we spoke with dermatologists to find teen-friendly products and tips on the superstar ingredients to look for when starting a skin care routine. Spoiler alert: Derms recommend keeping it simple with a cleanser, a moisturizer, and a sunscreen—and you don’t need to follow the Drunk Elephant skin care trend.

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What are some of the top skin concerns that teenagers face?

Teens face a range of skin changes due to hormonal fluctuations, lifestyle factors, and genetic predispositions. “Your oil or sebum production goes into overdrive during puberty,” Noreen Galaria, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist, tells Glamour. “You’re oilier in your teen years than you’ll ever be again, so your skin care routine needs to be updated accordingly.” Excess oil clogs pores, which causes excessive shine, and makes skin appear greasy. It also leads to the most shared skin concern: acne. This includes blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, and cysts. Teens are also likely to experience the aftereffects of acne. “This includes scarring and hyperpigmentation,” says Enrico Frezza, founder and CEO of Peace Out Skincare.

At what age should a teenager start a skin care routine?

While there isn’t a universal age to start a skin care routine since everyone’s skin type is different, experts agree that it’s ideal to introduce skin care habits during preteen years (between 9 to 12 years old).

As a preventive measure, Nicole Ruth, DO, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist at Weiser Skin MD, recommends focusing on the basics: a gentle cleanser labeled for sensitive skin, a weightless moisturizer, and broad-spectrum face sunscreen with an SPF of 30+. A cleansing habit is especially useful if they’re involved in sports or live in hot weather, to avoid sweat clogging pores.

What skin care should 13-to-15-year-olds use?

According to American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), girls typically start their menstruation around 12 or 13 years. “During menstruation, hormones fluctuate, and hormonal acne is bound to pop up,” says Dr. Galaria. “A skin care routine for this age group can be as simple as showering daily and washing their face twice a day.” If they’re dealing with breakouts, opt for cleansers that contain acne-fighting ingredients like alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), which will gently exfoliate the skin, oil-free moisturizers, and nongreasy facial sunscreen. A spot treatment like salicylic acid, beta hydroxy acid (BHA) for exfoliating skin, or antibacterial ingredients like benzoyl peroxide can help absorb excess oil and are ideal for oily and acne-prone skin. A pimple patch can help protect the skin barrier and prevent more face picking.

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