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As a former teen who struggled with acne, I can confirm that I was willing to try just about anything to get rid of those big, red bumps — scrubs that left me red and dry, masks that burned my skin and huge globs of retinol that left me peeling were all par for the course. Why put myself through the pain and horror? It’s no secret: acne can feel embarrassing and uncomfortable, especially as a teenager.
Lucky for today’s teens, gone are the days of certain peach-based scrubs and celeb-backed acne treatments. There’s far more information out there today, and far gentler, more effective solutions to teenage acne. To learn more, I spoke with Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital and medical advisor of Jori Skincare. According to Zeichner, consensus guidelines for treating acne recommend using multiple topical agents to target different aspects of acne. Read on for Zeichner’s favorite products for fighting acne in teens.
Period Face Mask
Banish period-induced breakouts with this gel mask. It helps to calm inflammation, minimize pore size, moisturize, and smooth uneven skin tone. How does it work? Skin looks clean and clear thanks to the potent (yet gentle) ingredients in the mask. Speaking of ingredients, there is hyaluronic acid, green tea, lavender, and zinc, which work together to keep your complexion balanced.
A Protective Cream
This cream is Hailey Bieber’s secret to calming stressed skin, and it’s no surprise why. Avène’s cream promises to restore skin and soothe any redness and dryness. And it actually delivers on its claims — hundreds of shoppers confirm their skin looks (and feels) better than before.
Blemish Gel with Micreobalance®
Maybe, it’s time to switch up your teen’s acne treatments for a new, game-changing product. The Blemish Gel from Gladskin clears skin without the typical acne-fighting ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or antibiotics. Instead, the gel formula uses the brand’s patented Micreobalance® to gently tackle acne breakouts and restore one’s complexion.
Deep Relief Acne Treatment
Murad’s newly-released acne product heals deep, bothersome acne to reveal a clearer complexion for all skin types. This powerful leave-on treatment is loaded with active ingredients like salicylic acid for quick and long-term relief.
Clearing Skin Wash
This non-irritating, foaming cleanser uses salicylic acid and tea tree oil to remove excess oil and dead cells from the surface of the skin, keeping pores clean and less likely to grow acne. Zeichner says it can be used both daily on its own or alongside leave-on acne treatments depending on preference.
Acne Foaming Wash
A favorite among derms, PanOxyl’s creamy formula features benzoyl peroxide, a highly effective agent to treat both blackheads and whiteheads as well as inflammatory acne. Be forewarned, this can leave skin a bit dry depending on skin type (I personally like to use it as a five-minute, wash-off spot treatment), but it’s a life-saver when it comes to angry, red acne.
Daily Leave-On Acne Treatment Mask
Designed to be applied to the entire area that’s breaking out (whether that be the entire face or just a small spot), this mask treats current acne while also preventing new ones from developing. The dermatologist-formulated blend features micronized 2.5% benzoyl peroxide to get deep into the pores where acne begins and addresses the needs of skins, knowing factors like hormones, diet, and stress can contribute to breakouts.
Hydrocolloid pimple patches are great overnight spot treatments, especially for those tempted to pick. Slap a patch on the affected area and remove it in the morning. It’ll suck the gunk and grossness right out of pimples without leaving any redness or irritation behind.
Outsmart Acne Clarifying Treatment
This treatment features a blend of salicylic and glycolic acid to treat acne, while honey, boswellia extract and rice extract soothe inflammation and prevent dryness. Simply apply a thin layer over the entire affected area once a day — in an independent clinical study, 96% of subjects noticed reduced pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads in just one week.
Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
SPF is a must, especially for those with acne-prone skin, and starting daily use young is key. This lightweight, oil-free formula is loved by derms thanks to its ability to protect without causing breakouts on oily and acne-prone skin.
Super Clear Acne Serum
Bubble Skincare has Instagramable products your teen will love. Aside from great packaging, the brand has some seriously effective formulas. Not sure what to pick up? We love the Super Clear Acne Serum — it treats stubborn bumps with salicylic acid, squalane, and colloidal oatmeal. All of the ingredients decrease inflammation and soothe the skin.
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