Step by step plan for teenagers with acne
In your teenager years you suddenly get spots and blackheads on your face (and maybe on your chest and back). How does this actually happen? And what can you do about it?
How it starts
Dead skin cells
Your skin has skin cells which are constantly being renewed. You wouldn’t normally notice the changing of the dead skin cells into the new skin cells. If you get sunburnt then you do see this. The bits of peel you see on your skin are the dead skin cells and the smooth layer underneath are the new skin cells.
Increased sebum production
Sebaceous glands are also found in your skin. Sebum is a type of oil which keeps your skin lubricated and supple. If your glands make too much sebum, you then have an increased sebum production, then your skin becomes oily.
P.acnes bacteria and the consequent clogging
If dead skin cells and sebum accumulate in the pores then the pores can become blocked. If you also have the skin bacteria P.acnes then they can cause clogging in your pores and result in spots and blackheads.
When you go into puberty your sebaceous glands, thanks to hormones, usually produce more sebum than you need. This is often hereditary: one of your parents (or both) also had oily skin. But such an increased sebum production can also be a result of smoking, certain sugar rich foods, sun or stress. Skincare products can also play a part though if, for example, you don’t wash your face frequently enough or you use the wrong skincare products.
What can you do?
STEP 1: Cleanse with mild products
Skin with acne, whether it’s just blackheads or spots as well, requires mild care. However, many products for acne treatment that you can buy at the pharmacy are harsh and make the acne worse. A good example are cleansing scrubs (those products with the tiny grains); don’t even consider using them!
What can you do then?
Get into the habit of cleansing your face after you have cleaned your teeth. I recommend using the Cleanser that I have developed for this. The Cleanser for normal to dry skin will probably be best suited to young skin types, because you won’t usually have an increased sebum production yet. If your skin gets progressively shiny during the day then a better choice is the Cleanser for normal to oily skin. You only need to wash your face with warm water in the mornings.
For those who like to wear make-up: I have developed a foundation that doesn’t contain any skin clogging ingredients. It is important that you first remove all the make-up with an oil based product before cleansing. Choose something like pure jojoba oil (available at Holland & Barrett). Put some of the oil onto a cotton pad and gently wipe over the skin. After that apply a cleanser with water.
STEP 2: Soothe and treat
After the cleansing you can treat your skin. There are 2 options that you can try at home to counteract the onset of acne: an Exfoliant and/or the Azelaic Acid Serum.
An exfoliant is an acid based product, which can remove dead skin cells. This will clean the clogged pores and counteract your inflammation. There are also scrubs for this but. as I said earlier, I strongly advise staying away from them. The granules scrape, as it were, a layer of the skin off and so affect the protective functioning of the skin. An exfoliant works from the inside out. The acids help to loosen the dead skin cells. For acne skin choose an exfoliant with salicylic acid.
How do you use an exfoliant?
You need to introduce exfoliating gradually. It is best to apply the exfoliant every other day at night after cleansing. You apply the exfoliant onto cleansed skin and don’t need to rinse it off. I have developed an exfoliant with 1% salicylic acid which also contains extra soothing ingredients. A fine layer is all that is required to have an effect. Wait for 10 minutes after applying it before you apply a moisturizer onto your face. This will allow the exfoliant to absorb in.
Salicylic acid is not recommended if you are allergic to aspirin. This because the chemical structure of salicylic acid is similar to that of aspirin.
Azelaic Acid Serum
The other treatment cream that can prevent the onset of acne is the Azelaic Acid Serum. This serum contains azelaic acid, which has a soothing, anti-inflammatory and purifying effect. Magnolia tree bark, which has antibacterial properties and is an antioxidant, has also been added. Both ingredients can reduce redness and spots.
How do you use the Azelaic Acid Serum?
As with the exfoliant you need to introduce the Azelaic Acid Serum gradually. It is best to apply the Serum every other day in the evening, after cleansing. If you use an exfoliant as well, then apply the Azelaic Acid Serum in the morning. Pump 2 to 3 quantities onto finger and apply liberally onto your skin. Then wait for 10 minutes before applying a cream.
The effects of combining the Azelaic Acid Serum with the Exfoliant on the skin: George’s story
George (17 years old) was still at primary school when he started getting acne symptoms. First of all, there was an outbreak on his cheeks, then on his shoulders and later he got spots all over his face. He received treatment from a beauty specialist and a skin therapist, tried a form of vitamin A acid cream, but nothing helped. His mother saw an appeal for the investigation into the Azelaic Acid Serum on Instagram and he put himself forward for it. Alongside the AA serum, George also used the Cleanser, the Exfoliant and the Suncare by Dr. Jetske Ultee. After 4 weeks he saw an improvement in his symptoms. His skin was calmer and his spots and inflammation reduced. George’s response: “In all these years I have never had comments from anyone about my skin. But now all of a sudden friends are saying ‘hey, your skin is looking good’.”
Keep this in mind
If you are just starting with skincare products, it may seem like your acne has got worse to begin with. This is because the shedding of the cells suddenly goes faster than usual: blockages all come out at once. This is normal and is over after no more than 3 to 4 weeks. Give your skin some time to adjust to the new products.
STEP 3: Care for
Very young skin doesn’t generally need a (rich) cream. If you would still prefer to use something, or your skin feels a bit dry from the treatment products (in step 2), then do use a cream. My Moisturizer is also suitable for young skin. The Moisturizer does contain several active ingredients and so it is better if you don’t start using it at the same time as your treatment cream (the Exfoliant with salicylic acid and, if applicable, the Azelaic Acid Serum). See if it is going okay with the treatment creams first of all.
STEP 4: Protect
It is important to apply a sun cream every morning. The Suncover is very suitable.
Here is how the step by step plan for morning and evening looks:
|Rinse with warm water||Wash with a Cleanser (1)*|
|Treat with Azelaic Acid Serum (3)
|Treat with Exfoliant with salicylic acid (2)
|Apply Cream (4) if desired||Apply Cream (4) if desired|
|Apply Sun cream (5)|
*Did you have make up on? Clean your face with some pure jojoba oil first then.
1. Uncover Skincare Cleanser (normal to dry skin or normal to oily skin)
2. Uncover Skincare Exfoliant 1% salicylic acid (normal to oily skin)
3. Uncover Skincare Azelaic Acid Serum
4. Uncover Skincare Moisturizer (normal to oily skin)5. Uncover Skincare Suncover SPF30
Go to the Doctor
People with acne find it difficult to go to the Doctor. In some cases combining the products that I have listed above with medicine, that a Doctor can prescribe, is unavoidable. That is why a good relationship between skin therapist and Doctor is also very important.
(Dr. Jetske Ultee – Research Physician Cosmetic Dermatologist)