Skin care for teenagers


Clean Skin Care Routines for Tweens and Teens

The mystery of exactly how hormones are going to change your child extends to practically every aspect of life, from the way they act, to how they look, to the way they sleep. How—and when—hormones are going to affect their skin is yet another unknowable factor. Childrens’ oil glands shut off at about six months of age, says New York dermatologist/psychologist Amy Wechsler, herself the parent of a teenager. “You know how infants get cradle cap? That’s the oil glands, activated by the mother’s hormones in the womb.” Inactive throughout childhood, the skin’s oil glands can be among the first changes stimulated by the hormones of puberty. “Acne and seborrheic dermatitis—dandruff—sadly, often comes before the rest of the signs of puberty, sometimes as early as eight or nine,” she says. Before that happens, kids’ skin doesn’t need much beyond clean SPF (more on that later), but once it does, it can show up as anything from mild oiliness to a severe breakout. “For the most part, it’s the T-zone, and for the most part, just blackheads and whiteheads,” says Wechsler.

New York dermatologist Robert Anolik points out that 85% of people between 12 and 24 experience problem skin: “Frustratingly, it often continues into adulthood.” As anyone who’s ever had even a single pimple knows, a bad skin day can be far worse than a bad hair day. “It’s so important to address—I always thank parents for bringing their kids in,” says Wechsler. “I tell them we can fix this, but it will take some time: No acne patient sees real changes for at least six weeks, so you’ve got to prepare everyone for that.”


Your moment to teach your child about daily cleansing—the most critical aspect of getting a routine started—is once you see signs of oily skin or breakouts. “It’s absolutely something you have to teach,” says Wechsler. “It’s uncomfortable and weird at first to have soap or cleanser all over your face. Just like you’d teach a kid to shave their underarms or legs, you have to show them how to do it.” (Or shaving for boys, which generally comes later, but Wechsler gives the tip that when the time does come, electric razors are much gentler on skin, easier to use, and harder to hurt yourself with than regular ones.)

Because an evening washing is much more strategic, focus on that first. If your child showers at night, take advantage of the fact that they’re already wet and cleansing, says Anolik. “To make cleansing a separate step at the sink can be difficult,” he says. “I often have them use a facial cleanser in the shower when they are already lathering up. Shampoo to hair, cleanser to face, body wash to body.”

“Unless a kid is a really sweaty sleeper, the morning is much less important,” agrees Wechsler. “And truly it’s just a lesson: Cleanse all the way up to the hairline, behind the ears, the shoulders, the back. And if there’s a gentle bar they already use for body, they can start by using the same thing for face.”

Anolik recommends cleansers as opposed to true soaps: “They can strip the skin of its surface natural barrier because they have a very high pH relative to a more neutral skin surface,” he says. “Cleansers are more neutral in pH and therefore much less irritating.”

Countercontrol Clear Pore Cleanser

goop, $26

A gentle but deep cleanse with organic lemon, cherry and aloe juice.

Goldfaden MD Pure Start

goop, $35

Made with spearmint and alfalfa, this gel clarifies, oxygenates, and energizes skin with natural extracts that calm congested, acne-prone skin. Good for oily skin types, and those prone to hyperpigmentation.

Leland Francis Black Rose Bar

goop, $22

An amazing anti-ager as well as potent (but incredibly gentle) breakout fighter, this bar combines the healing, detoxifying power of charcoal with antioxidant African black soap—brilliant for treating acne, eczema, and psoriasis—plus rose and bergamot essential oils to hydrate, soothe, fight sunspots, and combat other signs of aging. The results are clear, radiant skin with a refined, clarified texture. The handmade-in-the-U.S.A., hand-cut, small-batch bars lather beautifully and gently exfoliate while leaving the skin’s lipid barrier intact, so it stays smooth and soft.

Ursa Major Fantastic Face Wash

goop, $28

A brilliant combination of effective but gentle, this essential oil blend clarifies, brightens, soothes, and hydrates normal/combination/oily skin. The foaming gel wash has to be best-smelling on earth—it’s a mix of cedar, spearmint, lime, lemon, rosemary, black spruce, owyhee, vetiver, and lavender oils, among others, and it’s perfectly balanced to refresh skin, yet leave its protective mantle intact. You will love it, your significant other will steal it, any products you use afterward will absorb better. All in, everyone’s skin will be happier.


A child involved in athletics is going to need more. “If you know you’re going to be sitting on a bus for an hour after a game in sweaty clothes, bring an extra sports bra, and extra t-shirt,” says Wechsler. “Think about shoulder pads, and make sure helmets and chin straps are clean, too.” Wipes can be incredibly helpful after exercise—and for cleansing-resistant tweens and teens, can stand in for cleansing, especially if they have salicylic acid in them (Ursa Major’s do, and they’re individually wrapped, making them especially amazing for travel; RMS’s individually-wrapped wipes take advantage of the soothing caprylic acid in coconuts). The nice thing about the salicylic acid in wipes is it stays on the skin, helping to cleanse pores. *It’s important to note that going clean with wipes is especially important—conventional wipes contain preservatives, not to mention skin-irritating fragrance in most cases.

Ursa Major Essential Face Wipes

goop, $24

The company’s miracle 4-1 Face Tonic formula is infused into each individually-wrapped bamboo-cloth face wipe—use as a pH-balancing cleanser, gentle-but-powerful exfoliant, potent skin-healer, and firming hydrator, for all skin types. The wipes smell subtly of orange, fir, and lavender—refreshing after the gym, beautiful for taking off makeup, life-changing for the breakout-prone.

RMS Beauty Ultimate Makeup Remover Wipe – 20 Pack

goop, $16

These easy-to-use, easy-to-transport cleansing cloths are stealth skincare treatments. Made with cold-centrifuged organic coconut oil, which contains rare lauric and caprillic acids—found mostly in breast milk and destroyed by heat, including typical “cold-pressed” processes—these have powerful antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties. They are ultra-moisturizing, yet don’t cause breakouts (and can actually help treat them), and are gentle enough around the delicate eye area to smooth away mascara. Brilliant for all skin types, from sensitive to blemish-prone to super-dry.


If your child is actively experiencing breakouts, the next thing to add in is a topical treatment—used daily all over the face, as opposed to typically harsher “spot treatments”. “The spot treatments don’t work all that well,” says Wechsler. “Acne takes time to clear up either way, and a harsh, drying product often makes it worse.” Start with a gentle salicylic acid treatment that’s mildly exfoliating yet not drying. Alternately, there are breakout-targeting face oils like Herbivore’s Blue Tansy that’s infused with skin-calming azulene. Wechsler says she likes to use a retinoid like Differin (a gel form of which just became available over the counter) in the evening after cleansing, and topical clindamicin in the morning if needed. While not necessarily toxic, benzoyl peroxide is irritating, especially to more-sensitive tween and teen skin. “It’s not uncommon to have a irritation to benzoyl peroxide products—but they are very effective,” says Anolik. “If it’s well tolerated and someone has inflamed, cystic types of acne, I do recommend it. A few things to note: Low-concentration benzoyl peroxide can work very well, so typically I don’t jump to recommending higher, more irritating concentrations.” Wechsler says she uses it most for cases of body acne, and even then likes it in wash form. “Benzoyl peroxide bleaches fabric—clothing, sheets—so it’s better to wash it off,” she says.

Countercontrol All Over Acne Treatment

goop, $38

Salicylic acid and vitamin C combine to reduce breakouts, unclog pores, and even treat skin tone issues. Super-gentle and hydrating, so it’s easy to use everyday.

Herbivore Botanicals Lapis Facial Oil

goop, $72

Without a doubt the most gorgeous, luxurious breakout/troubled or combination skin treatment ever: This ultra-soothing, anti-inflammatory skin solution gets its name from the Egyptian gemstone lapis lazuli, and its color from precious blue tansy oil made with azulene, a powerful anti-inflammatory/antibacterial compound that reduces redness and clarifies skin. Combination, oily, blemish-prone, or irritated complexions of any sort need this drop-dead-beautiful bottle in the medicine chest.

The problem of irritation is a significant one, says Wechsler. “People tend to want to throw the book at a breakout, and they’ll layer on drying thing after irritating thing, benzoyl peroxide on top of a really strong clay mask, on top a harsh scrub, etc. Inflammation makes acne worse. Slow and steady treats even serious breakouts.” A calming mask, however, can be a fun and slightly silly ritual that really engages a kid; goop staffers have had amazing results doing May Lindstrom’s paint-on The Problem Solver mud/charcoal mask together with their kids.

May Lindstrom The Problem Solver Correcting Masque

goop, $90

It starts out as a powder (a blend of raw cacao, bamboo charcoal, soil nutrients, and spices), only releasing its potent healing elements once mixed with water. The resulting mousse heals blemishes, fights inflammation, encourages circulation, and visibly tightens pores pretty much instantly. Use Lindstrom’s facial treatment bowl and brush to mix the paste.

In-office blue light treatments soothe skin; both Wechsler and Anolik use them with tween and teen patients. For more severe cases, medications like antibiotics and Accutane can be used starting at age 12. Wechsler always emphasizes that if a patient ever has a pimple that’s large enough to inject with cortisone that’s really bothering them, she’ll always make the time to see them that day. If you feel it’s merited, never hesitate to drag even a reluctant sufferer to the dermatologist: it’s a problem worth fixing.

Clean SPF

As tough as it is to get your child to cleanse, put at least as much effort into getting them to use sun protection. “So many teens and tweens don’t worry about sun tans or burns—many like being tan, and don’t worry about the harm it causes,” says Anolik. “It’s part of their feeling of immortality at that age. Sun damage is cumulative, and the more you get in childhood and tween years, the more evidence of it—looking older than you are, getting skin cancers—you’ll have later in life.” Girls experiencing breakouts may already be interested in makeup to help cover it up, and since many tinted moisturizers and foundations have SPF in them, this can be a brilliant synergy. “Step it up in terms of quality,” says Wechsler, who skips the drugstore entirely when shopping for a tween/teen tint or foundation. “You want formulas made with skin care ingredients.”

Clean mineral makeup, made with titanium dioxide has a soothing effect on skin. That said, covering up fresh, youthful skin with full-on makeup is crazy: More translucent SPFs like the one from Naturopathica or Beautycounter are ideal; Rituel de Fille and RMS Beauty both make concealers infused with calming ingredients. For boys or girls who want no tint Ursa Major’s SPF 18 is weightless and rubs in incredibly easily.

Vive Sana Daily Protezione SPF30

goop, $55

Coola’s Matte Tint SPF 30 has the freakiest (and coolest) feel ever: It goes on like foam dust, leaving nary a trace behind. It has a very sheer universal tint and matte finish that hides imperfections and evens skin tone, too, meaning it’s kind of magic in a bottle.

Beautycounter Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20

goop, $45

This glowy, translucent, instantly perfecting SPF 20 has to be the ultimate no makeup-makeup of all time. It’s less about masking flaws, and more about looking and feeling like you—but better. The delicate, deeply hydrating formula smoothes in like a dream; zinc oxide soothes and protects all day; black currant, peony-root extract, and vitamin C address age spots and enhance brightness, and hyaluronic acid promotes firmer, smoother-looking skin. If you’re looking for coverage, this is not your product—but we guarantee it makes anyone’s skin look instantly more beautiful. It’s so sheer that different shades work for many different skins; if you’re in doubt, try No. 2, which works for practically everyone who tries it.

Force Field Daily Defense Lotion with SPF 18

goop, $54

This lightweight, ultra-hydrating all-mineral SPF blends in so beautifully it’s truly unbelievable. Unscented and packed with skin-perfecting vitamins, it treats your skin while leaving it smooth and protected. Sinks into skin in seconds, feels incredible—this lotion is seriously the ultimate (easy) daily anti-ager.

All Good Kids Sunscreen Lotion SPF 33

goop, $16

Organic coconut oil makes this easier to apply than most non-toxic formulas—only one of the reasons we’re obsessed with this broad-spectrum, hypo-allergenic, gluten- and gmo-free, vegan, biodegradable formula. Serious, totally safe sun protection for kids that feels amazing going on—a total breakthrough.

Juice Beauty Phyto-Pigments Perfecting Concealer

goop, $24

An easy-to-use miracle skin perfector, this creamy, highly pigmented formula conceals imperfections and dark circles like nothing else, allowing you to wear much less makeup overall. The buildable full coverage blends like a dream for a flawless, utterly natural look. Hydrating and smoothing, it works to visibly reduce fine lines as it seamlessly erases dark circles, blemishes, and discolorations.

RMS “Un” Cover-Up

goop, $36

While the natural mineral pigments and stay-put consistency are potent enough to stand on their own, this soothing, antioxidant-packed concealer stick blends beautifully with Vapour’s Soft Focus foundation—just match up the numbers to get the ideal shade pairing.

Above all, don’t ignore changes in your tween or teen’s skin. ”The psychological impact of problem skin is real,” says Wechsler. “Knowing that, and bearing in mind that everyone has to be patient at first—that no treatment is going to give you immediate changes—is important.” Sleep levels, stress levels, and a high-glycemic (lots of sugar) diet (Anolik mentions low- and non-fat milk specifically) can intensify or even trigger breakouts, depending on the person; family history plays a role, too. It takes a little time, but we’ll get there.

The Ultimate Skincare Routine For Teens

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Being a teenager can be kinda stressful; it’s a whirlwind of AP calculus, curfews, and boy drama, so the last thing you need to be worrying about is your skincare regime. To save you the hassle, we’ve pulled together the ultimate regime that’ll help combat everything from pimples to oily skin, leaving you with a goddess level glow. Of course, we consulted with the experts for their top tips, so the only thing you’ll have to worry about is what you’re going to wear to senior prom.

Understanding teenage skin

The first step of any good skincare regime is understanding your skin. During your teens, your hormone levels spike, which in skin terms equals one thing: oiliness. The main aim of your skincare regime should be dedicated to balancing your skin and controlling oil production. The rising levels of testosterone also increase sebum (oil) production, making breakouts more likely as the buildup of oil blocks your pores and encourages blackheads and pimples to form. Plus, as you go through puberty, you start to produce more keratin (a protein that protects the upper layers of your dermis), which makes your skin thicker, and therefore it contributes to blocked pores.

Ingredients to look for: Clay to extract oil (check out our fave drugstore clay masks), Benzoyl Peroxide, which is proven to help break-outs, salicylic acid and AHAs, which clean deep into pores, and tea tree oil and witch hazel, which are naturally antibacterial.

Things to avoid: Food-wise, avoid cow’s milk, and rich and heavy creams (dairy) to help with hormonal breakouts.

Step 1: Cleanse

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“As a teenager, the most important skincare step is cleansing,” Timm Golüeke, leading dermatologist and Founder of the Dr. Golüeke clinic in Munich, told us.

Cleansing properly will help remove impurities and any excess oil. Start your day with a cleanser that’s targeted for your skin type, like a foam or gel formula. However, at the end of the day, you should double cleanse to help remove any makeup residue, dirt, oil, or dead skin that’s sitting on your skin. It may seem counterintuitive to use an oil on oily skin, but a cleansing oil will actually remove sebum more effectively as oil attracts oil. Check out our full guide to double cleansing here. But first, here are you go-to cleansers:

Garnier Micellar Oil-infused Cleansing Water, $4: This oil-infused micellar water helps remove all traces of makeup and leaves your skin feeling super soft. Read our full review here.

Missha Blackhead Off, $33: This is a bit pricier, but it’s amazing, and the oil will last you months even with daily use. Use this as the first step in your cleansing routine to get rid of SPF and makeup, and follow with a gel cleanser.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Cleansing Gel, $9: This oil-free gel cleanser is super lightweight and will gently remove any dirt, oil, or makeup from your skin while hydrating with hyaluronic acid.

Step 2: Tone

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Toning is another key step and helps to rebalance the pH levels of your skin, which in turn helps manage oil production. Plus, it’ll tone and tighten your pores, so they’re less likely to become blocked. A good toner will also help remove any lingering makeup residue – you’ll be surprised how you can miss makeup around your hairline! These are the products we rely on:

COSRX One Step Original Clear Pad (70pcs), $23: Pre-saturated toning pads soaked in willow bark extract, tea tree, and hyaluronic acid are the easiest way to sweep away leftover residue on your skin, hydrate, and detox. We’re in love!

Clinique Clarifying Lotion 3, $25: This toner will leave your skin feeling fresh, clean, and cool. The addition of witch hazel will help purify and gently exfoliate the skin.

Step 3: Exfoliate (2-3 times a week)

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Dr. Jessica Wu M.D, L.A.-based dermatologist, Founder of Jessica Wu Cosmeceuticals, says it’s really important to “keep skin exfoliated” due to the hormonal surges that are occurring and leading to blocked pores. Dr. Wu recommends “Clay containing products, which have natural antiseptic and astringent properties,” and recommends the Skinfix Foaming Clay Cleanser, $20, to all her teen patients. Chemical exfoliators containing AHAs and salicylic acid are perfect as they clean deep into your pores, as they’re able to penetrate more deeply (than physical exfoliators) and dissolve the glue that holds together debris in your pore.

However, you should only exfoliate two to three time a week, and be sure to be as gentle as possible. The more pressure you apply when you use physical (grainy) exfoliators, the more likely you are to damage your skin and encourage breakouts (micro scratches on the surface of the skin encourage bacteria to enter). Check out these gentle but effective exfoliators:

Bioré Charcoal Pore Minimizer, $10: Charcoal is great for teen skin as it detoxifies and purifies. You’ll actually be able to see the oil being removed from your skin!

e.l.f Gentle Peeling Exfoliant, $10: This exfoliator will gently peel away dead skin and is infused with tangerine, papaya, and licorice extracts to brighten the skin.

DIY Exfoliator: Cook together 1/2 cup of hot water and 1/3 cup oatmeal. Leave it to cool and then mix in 1 tablespoon of plain yoghurt (packed with lactic acid, an AHA), 1 tablespoon of honey (anti-inflammatory and antibacterial), 1 teaspoon of turmeric, (an awesome antiaging and antibacterial powerhouse), and an egg white for a hit of zinc and vitamin B. Apply a thin layer of the mask to your face for 10 to 15 minutes, then rinse with warm water.

Step 4: Moisturize

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Don’t think that just because your skin is oily you can get away with skipping moisturizer. It may seem counterintuitive, but if you don’t hydrate oily skin, your skin will produce more oil in an effort to compensate for the lack of moisture. This means that the best moisturizer is one that can replenish and hydrate without sitting heavily on your skin. Look for gel moisturizers that are super lightweight and are water-like in texture, as these contain the lowest amount of oil, waxes, and emulsifiers. You can also look for labels that say non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic, as these mean the product will not clog pores or cause breakouts. Here are our fave moisturizers for teen skin:

Clinique Moisture surge 72-hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator, $20: This dewy gel moisturizer contains skincare hero ingredient hyaluronic acid as well as aloe vera, to plump, soothe and hydrate your skin.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water gel, $20: This award-winning oil-free moisturizer is highly absorbent and will nourish and hydrate, leaving your skin soft and glowing.

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Optional: Apply a serum

If you feel like one round of moisture isn’t enough, and you want to take your skincare regime to the next level, apply a serum before your moisturizer. Serums contain a high concentration of active ingredients, and the small molecular structure allows it to penetrate the skin on a deeper level. It’s super lightweight so it’ll absorb into your skin easily, lessening the chance of it blocking your pores. Here are our go-to serums:

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, $11: Hyaluronic acid is the ultimate hydrating ingredient; it’s multi-depth hydration will plump your skin, leaving it feeling super soft.

The Inkey List Vitamin C Serum, $10: This serum contains hero-ingredient Vitamin C, which will brighten your skin and even out skin tone. Read our full review here.

Step 5: SPF

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Dr. Timm Golueke says he always tells his teen patients “To use SPF daily because often when a pimple is healing and it’s exposed to the sun, it will leave hyperpigmentation.” 90% of how your skin ages is directly related to sun exposure and if there’s one thing all dermatologists agree on, it’s that wearing sunscreen every day is essential if you want healthy skin. While aging may not seem like the greatest skincare concern in your teens, if you get into this skincare ritual early on, you’ll be loving life and the way your skin looks when you hit 30.

The Sunscreen Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Spray SPF 50, $9: This water-resistant sunscreen offers UVA and UVB protection and features active ingredients that absorb damaging UV radiation before it even reaches the skin.

The Inkey List Zinc, $11: This sunscreen is a combination of mineral and chemical sunscreens and is SPF 50. It’s lightweight and absorbent so it won’t leave your skin feeling greasy, while the zinc content will help to balance oil production.

Weekly additions

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If you get into the habit of doing a mask once a week, your skin will seriously thank you. As Dr. Wu’s recommends, a clay mask is amazing for your skin, and we’re obsessed with L’Oréal clay masks, $13; they’re affordable, and they’re SO good. There are six masks in total that address different skincare concerns. However, they all contain three types of clay; kaolin, montmorillonite, and Moroccan lava, which extract oil and purify pores. You may also want to stock up on pore strips to help degunk your pores like the Tea Tree Oil-control Cleansing Nose Pore Strips, $3. Although, you’ll only need to use these very two weeks.

Our fave DIY Acne Mask: This mask is perfect for teen skin as honey is a natural humectant so it’ll draw moisture into your skin, yet it’s also antibacterial helping reduce any acne bacteria in the skin. Combine 1 tablespoon of honey, 1 tablespoon of nutmeg, and 2/3 teaspoons of cow’s milk in a bowl, then apply to your face using a brush; continue to layer the mask until it’s all gone. Leave it on your skin for 10 to 15 minutes and then either gently wipe away with a muslin cloth or wash your face with warm water.

Spot creams

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Since teen skin is more prone to pimples, make sure you’re always prepared with a spot treatment to tackle a pimple as soon as you can feel one coming. Look for products that contain salicylic acid, witch hazel, or tea tree as these ingredients will help lower inflammation and reduce acne bacteria in the skin.

Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, $17: This drying solution is amazing at taking down pimples overnight as it helps to dry out blemishes and reduce redness and inflammation. Check out why we love it so much here.

Boots Tea Tree & Witch Hazel Spot Wand, $6: Witch hazel is ideal for treating acne as it’s a natural astringent, so it’ll help draw out bacteria, dirt, and oil in your skin. We love applying this wand as it has a day and a night formula for 24-hour control.

e.l.f. Acne Fighting Spot Gel With Aloe, $2: This features our fave acne fighting ingredients; salicylic acid, witch hazel, camphor, tea tree, green tea, and aloe vera, so it’ll reduce swelling and get rid of any lingering bacteria in the skin.

And, most importantly, remember to not pick at any spots, as this is more likely to cause scarring. Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below.

Skin health articles

The skin undergoes major transformations and many changes during the formative years, which is why most adolescents and teenagers require special skincare.

A most common skin issue faced by teenagers is acne or breakouts.

Why Do Breakouts Occur in Teens?

Breakouts happen to teenagers due to several reasons:

  1. Hormones – The body starts producing a lot more hormones during the teenage years, especially androgens, which trigger oil production. When excessive oil is produced, pores become clogged easily, and bacteria usually found in the skin multiplies.This results in inflammation and a red, swollen bump known as acne.

  2. Makeup – Teenage girls start to experiment with makeup around their adolescent years, exposing their skin to ingredients which could irritate the skin or clog pores and in turn cause breakouts.

  3. Negligence – Many teenagers, especially teenage boys, do not know the proper way to care for their skin and end up not caring for it at all. Some may use skincare, but not the suitable or right kind due to lack of information or knowledge.

The Right Skincare Routine

Teenagers can establish an uncomplicated skincare routine that helps them ease into the habit of maintaining their skin.

  1. Cleanse gently – Use a mild, fragrance-free cleanser that does not irritate the skin yet cleanses thoroughly.

  2. Moisturize – Proper moisturizing can provide the skin with hydration and relieve skin from the discomfort of dryness and itchiness. This also prevents the skin from secreting too much oil to compensate for dryness.

  3. Protect – It is advisable to always apply sunscreen, so as to avoid accumulating damages to the skin caused by UV rays from the sun.

Other skincare measures to counter breakouts include using oil-blotting sheets, exfoliating weekly, keeping the skin clean throughout the day, and avoiding polluted environments.


The air is getting a little bit colder every day now, which means it’s that time of year to really start thinking about moisturizer. You should of course be moisturizing all year long, but if you aren’t, changing your ways is now officially required. Whether your skin is oily or flaky and dry, every routine needs a moisturizer. Here are 14 of our favorites that’ll keep your skin happy and healthy.

For Thirsty Skin

100% Plant-Derived Squalane $7.90 Buy

The Ordinary is known for its ultra-affordable, quality skincare. This Squalane oil is great before bed in the colder months—you’ll wake up soft, without any patches of dryness.

For Sun Protection

AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30 CeraVe $11.76 SHOP

For skin that is somewhere down the middle—not too dry, not too oily—you need a simple moisturizer that will keep it that way. CeraVe is the best everyday, drugstore buy you can get. Plus, getting one with built-in SPF means you’ll maintain that normal without unintentional sun damage.

For Discoloration

Everyday Face Moisturizer Alder New York $18.00 Buy

Alder New York’s everyday moisturizer has hyaluronic acid to firm, plump, and moisturize, as well as Vitamin C to target discoloration and sun spots.

For Oily Skin

Oil-Free Moisturizer Baxter $26.00 Buy

If you like to keep it oil-free, this Baxter daily moisturizer is a great lightweight option that’ll keep you hydrated all day.

For Combination Skin

Soothe Moisturizer Serum Skin Essence Organics $29.99 Buy

This oil blend moisturizes and soothes without adding any extra shine. Your skin will drink this stuff right up.

For Tired Skin

Facial Fuel Energizing Moisturizer Kiehl’s $35.00 Buy

This energizing moisturizer from Kiehl’s is great for dull-looking, tired skin, as it’s packed with caffeine and vitamins.

For Puffy Skin

GinZing Ultra-Hydrating Energy-Boosting Cream Origins $38.00 Buy

This is a lightweight, energizing everyday cream from Origins. It has ginseng and coffee bean in it to wake up skin and make it feel fresh. Especially if, like most of us, you’re not getting as much sleep as you should.

For Irritated Skin

Cicapair Tiger Grass Calming Gel Cream Dr. Jart+ $48.00 buy

If you have sensitive, intolerant skin and want to avoid oils, this lightweight option from Dr. Jart is a powerhouse when it comes to calming.

For Sensitive Skin

Calm Water Gel Moisturizer Dermalogica $50.00 Buy

Sensitive skin requires special attention because any kind of product can spark a reaction. One solution: keep it minimal. Dermalogica’s gel moisturizer is uncomplicated and therefore less likely to cause irritation. It’ll soften and hydrate without causing irritation or greasiness.

For Flaky Skin

Everyday Oil Blend Everyday Oil $48.00 Buy

You might need to add in an extra step to your regularly scheduled routine to handle flaky skin. Apply a generous amount of this oil before bed, and let it work its magic overnight. This gives it optimal time to soak into your skin without rubbing off in the day. You can also use it all over your body.

For Problem Skin

Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate Kiehl’s $50.00 Buy

Kiehl’s Cannabis Seed oil is great for calming red, blemish-prone, and irritated skin.

For Dull Skin

Luxe Face Oil Leland Francis $61.00 Buy

This luxe oil melts right into skin to provide you with a glow. And don’t shy away from oils if you have oily skin! They help to balance and smooth it out.

For Dry Skin

Hyaluronic Acid Gel Moisturizer Tata Harper $116.00 Buy

Tata Harper’s gel moisturizer is pricey, but it’ll replenish even the driest skin with its hyaluronic acid, which packs a punch.

For Parched Skin

The Rich Cream Augustinus Bader $265.00 Buy

This stuff is the real deal. It’s hefty price tag translates to soft, luxuriously smooth skin.

Lauren Kranc Lauren Kranc is an editorial assistant at Esquire and Masters student at New York University.

This article was medically reviewed by Caroline Chang, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and member of the Prevention Medical Review Board.

If you have oily skin, being diligent about moisturizing may seem a bit counterintuitive—but yes, you do need to moisturize, even if you have acne. Skipping this critical step may leave you plagued with rough, flaky, and red patches, which only brings more attention to your breakouts.

It all has to do with the acne treatment you’re using. “Even acne-prone teenagers need to moisturize to keep their skin barrier healthy. The skin barrier can become damaged from drying acne products and medications,” says Arielle Kauvar, MD, director of New York Laser & Skin Care and clinical professor of dermatology at New York University School of Medicine. This includes salicylic acid (which works to unclog pores) and benzoyl peroxides (which fights acne-causing bacteria).

While it is important to hone in on the moisturizer for your skin type, there’s also a correct way to apply it. Follow this order: Acne medications go on first, topped with a moisturizer, then sunscreen, and finally makeup if you choose to wear it, says Dr. Kauvar. However, if you use a retinoid-based product to control acne (like tretinoin or adapalene), apply these over a moisturizer or mixed with one to lessen irritation, she advises. Now, onto the fun part: shopping.

How to choose the best moisturizer for acne-prone skin:

Read the label carefully: The two most important phrases you’re looking for on your moisturizer are “oil-free” or “noncomedogenic,” and you probably won’t have to look very hard. “These types of moisturizers are really easy to find,” says Rebecca Baxt, MD, board-certified dermatologist at Baxt Cosmedical in Paramus, New Jersey. “If it’s advertised as either, you can rest assured it will not clog pores,” she says.

Mind the texture: If you’re on the drier side (or have combination skin) and have acne, opt for a moisturizing cream. Those with oily skin should go for a lightweight lotion or gel, recommends Dr. Kauvar.

Look for SPF: Sun exposure is a foe to acne. “Many moisturizers for acne-prone skin are fragrance-free and contain chemical-free, non-irritating sunscreens, which help reduce the development of long-lasting blemishes that persist after the pimples are gone,” says Dr. Kauvar.

Then, consider these 10 moisturizers that will work wonders on acne-prone skin.

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To try a few of the products, we love this Black Chicken Love Your Face Pack which contains six Black Chicken Remedies Products, a cleanser, complexion polish, moisturizer, face serum and muslin face cloths.


  • Nourished Life

4. Absolution Creative Apothecary’s Natural Organic Gentle Cream Cleanser

This French brand removes makeup and is paraben, PEG and phthalate free with no synthetic colours or fragrances.

Available from Ecoture

5. Zk’in Purifying Cleansing Gel

This gentle cleansing gel reducing oily shine and restores the skin balance. It has been clinically tested to control sebum. It is a very effective cleanser that doesn’t dry out young skin.

Available from Biome

6. Burt’s Bees Radiance Facial Cleanser

Burt’s Bees Radiance Facial Cleanser is a light lotion which removes dirt, oil and makeup. It contains plant-based cleansing ingredients and very gently exfoliates the skin as it cleans.

Available from Bellabox

7. Dermalogica Essential Cleansing Solution

Dermalogica is a tried and trusted brand for all skin concerns. This essential cleansing solution is gentle but effective and will remove all traces of grime, dirt and makeup from young skin!

Available from Alive

8. Mukti Balancing Foaming Cleanser

The Mukti Balancing Foaming Cleanser is a daily lightweight cleanser that controls oily skin and is perfect for combination skin. Although it is quite expensive for a teenager, it has won multiple awards for its formulation for breakouts and acne.

Available from Nourished Life

9. Manuka Biotic Natural Face Cleanser

This cleanser is perfect for young sensitive skin and is a good all-round gentle cleanser. It works to remove dirt, oil and bacteria. It contains certified organic Manuka Oil which contains antibacterial and antioxidant properties which helps to clear pores and minimise breakouts.

10. Luv Ur Skin Face Wash

Created by a teenager, for teenagers! This is a naturally formulated face wash that is gentle on the skin without causing irritation.

Available from Luv Ur Skin

11. 808 Dude Zit Free Face Wash for Teens

A skincare range specifically made with boys in mind! This zit-free face wash contains soothing antibacterial and astringent oils with soothe, calm and reduce inflamed acne-prone skin. It is designed to leave teenage skin healthy and clear!

Australian made and owned. Not tested on animals and vegan.

Available from Nourished Life

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