5 esthetician tips for your pre-teen or teen!

photo: Tassii

Puberty may be the first time your child has given much thought to their skin, and it can feel overwhelming. By 11 or 12 years old, hormonal changes can cause annoying irregularities like acne or dry skin on the face, neck, chest and back during a time of life that’s already tough on self-esteem. If your pre-teen or teenager is trying to figure out what’s best for a skincare routine, Lil Dyer Cobbs, esthetician and owner of Seraphim Skin Care in Buckhead, offers some tips. But first, assure your kid that “the type of skin they have and what happens to it when puberty hits are inherited. It’s pure DNA,” she says. The good news is that a little product and a little technique can help fix any concerns.

1. Cleanse.

Wash your face and neck once per day in the morning or the evening with a drugstore brand alpha-hydroxy acid face wash. “‘Acid’ sounds scary, but these are fruit acids and enzymes that will dissolve dead skin cells that clog pores and lead to acne,” says Cobbs. The other time of day, just use a warm, wet washcloth to wipe the face and neck. When buying the AHA face wash product, look on the back of the packaging for “active ingredients” and either salicylic acid or glycolic acid on the active ingredient list to ensure that it will work.

2. Moisturize.

In the morning, after the AHA cleanser or washcloth, apply a small amount of Aquaphor to the face and neck, and massage it in for three to four minutes. “This is your moisturizer and will keep skin from drying out and flaking. The more you massage, the less it will look or feel greasy,” says Cobbs.

3. Exfoliate.

At night, after washing your skin, apply Differin Gel, an FDA-approved, over-the-counter retinoid that contains a very mild 0.025% of tretinoin. Use a quarter-size amount and rub it all over your face and neck three to four times per week if you have mild acne, recommends Cobbs. For big breakouts, use it for 14 days straight, then taper back to three to four times per week. “This is, especially at first, going to slough off dead skin and cause flaking. That’s what it’s supposed to do. Make sure to wash and use the moisturizer to counteract this,” she says. “You can spot treat dry spots with the Aquaphor as needed during the day.” If major acne is a concern, see a dermatologist or a prescribing medspa to switch to a prescription retinoid. And even though it’s hard not to, don’t pick those zits, which can lead to scarring!

4. Sunscreen.

For days when you’re in the sun longer than 30 minutes, protect skin by applying a sunscreen every hour. Keep it in your backpack and apply when you need it, not first thing in the morning, advises Cobbs. Mineral sunscreens (titanium and zinc oxide) are technically the only ones the Food and Drug Administration recognizes as safe and effective based on currently available information; other sunscreen active ingredients are still under review. If you choose a chemical sunscreen, make sure to avoid oxybenzone, as it has been found to be a hormone disruptor (and banned in some states for detrimental effects on marine ecosystems).

5. More advice.

Cobbs encourages pre-teens and teens to stay away from the self critique inducing magnifying mirrors, unless used for precision makeup application. She also suggests avoiding skincare videos on social media because of products and devices that may not work and that kids just don’t need. Instead, a simple professional facial can be a great way to learn.


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