Complements Teens: how to master beautiful skin during your youth


It’s hard enough being a teenager these days without battling that unkind, age-old issue of unsightly breakouts and acne. However, there are some things you can do that will help develop good habits—and the clearest skin possible—for your entire life.

The first step is to determine what type of skin you have. Skin types are usually classified as normal, dry, oily, or combination. Depending on the time of year, your skin type may change. While you might have oily skin during the summer, the cold winter months may leave you with dry or combination skin. Knowing what type of skin you have to work with makes it easier to purchase products meant for your specific type of skin.

Next, it’s important to cleanse your skin daily. Even if you have dry skin, cleansing is essential to remove dirt and dead skin, which can prevent acne. Cleansing is especially important if you wear makeup. Not removing your makeup every night can clog your pores and cause more breakouts. Nowadays, cleansers are available for any type of skin, but make sure to choose good quality products. While some over-the-counter products will work well, you may find that you need a stronger treatment than what’s available at your local drugstore. If this is the case, a physician’s office can provide products that are backed with scientific evidence.

If you struggle with persistent breakouts, your goal should be to treat the condition. While you may be using an astringent or specific cleanser to remove the oil from your face, sometimes these products can be harsh on the skin, generating new acne from the irritation.

If you have mild acne, you may want to consider using a product with benzoyl peroxide. This ingredient works by introducing oxygen into the skin’s pores and killing the bacteria responsible for breakouts. It also helps remove dead skin cells, which can block pores and create more breakouts. Just be sure to use this only about once a day or every other day, as your skin may become overly dry. This product can also take time to notice results, typically about a month, so just be patient.

Another option you may want to try is a product with salicylic acid. These products work in a similar fashion, sloughing away dead skin cells but also penetrating through to the follicle, keeping pores clear. Products with salicylic acid work well for those with oily or combination skin, and can be used as a daily cleanser. Typical over-the-counter treatments range from .5 percent to 10 percent in strength, but the higher the strength the more irritation is possible.

No matter what types of skin products you use, everyone needs to use a high quality moisturizer to protect the skin. Even if you have oily skin, moisturizing is incredibly important. Look for products that won’t clog your pores (non-comedogenic). By adding moisture to the skin, pores stay open, making it harder for acne to form.

Last, sunscreen is an essential part of healthy, beautiful skin. By protecting your skin now, you’ll create good habits to prevent fine lines, wrinkles, and even skin cancer later in life. Again, if you struggle with acne, choose a sunscreen that is non-comedogenic. There are also lightweight, fragrance-free, and oil-free versions that are gentler on the skin.

One of the hardest things with acne is to not pick at it. Although it can be tempting, when you pick at the pimples you’re actually causing more inflammation. Picking can cause tiny acne scars that will last permanently, so hands off.

If you still struggle with skin issues, whether it be dry and flaky, acne-prone, or a dull complexion, a healthcare provider who works with the skin every day may be able to help. In addition to offering high quality, proven products, professionals can educate you on proper skincare routines and prescribe medications to help clear your skin.

You may choose to work with an aesthetician as well as a dermatologist to get your skin issues under control. This doesn’t need to be an “either/or” decision; both healthcare professionals have expertise and medical training to help you achieve the best complexion possible.

For additional great skincare tips, sign up for Complements, a free monthly e-newsletter produced by Mount Nittany Physician Group Reconstructive & Cosmetic Surgery.

Lashelle Kuhlman, licensed aesthetician, has worked with Mount Nittany Physician Group Reconstructive & Cosmetic Surgery since October 2014. With a passion for skincare and the beauty industry, Lashelle finds it rewarding to work with people to make them feel good about themselves. She holds a Bachelor of Science from The Pennsylvania College of Technology and a diploma from Altoona Beauty School. Outside the office, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.