Skin Care For Your Preteen

Thinking of the ’80s which is our theme this week, has me thinking about preteen angst. Worrying about school and boys and puberty and boys and your skin and boys … I have two girls about to hit adolescence, a very sensitive, delicate time in their lives. You know how you are never supposed to say anything negative to your children, especially at this tumultuous time, about their appearance? This is much easier said than done. Some days, it is all I can do to not chase them around the house with an anti-acne cleanser, an exfoliator and some Clearasil. I know when they get older, they will care more, but for now, personal hygiene is about as important as applying to college.  How can I help them with a skincare regimen they will follow?

THEY SHOULD: Cleanse twice a day, and after playing sports or working up a sweat, with the right kind of cleanser for their skin type. Oily skin requires a cleanser without additional oil. Dry skin does best with a cleanser with added moisturizer. Choose something mild for younger adolescents.

Cetaphil is often recommended by dermatologists, and can be found in formulations for different skin types.

REALITY: It is difficult to ensure preteens are washing their face at least twice a day. Getting them to brush their teeth is hard enough. Make it easier by having their cleanser in the shower — where you have the best chance of getting them to wash – and near the sink, for their morning or bedtime routine. Have pre-moistened facial clothes in a convenient place, possibly their sports bag, so they can clean their face as part of their cool down.

THEY SHOULD: Exfoliate once or twice a week. Exfoliating with a gentle product, like Olay Skin Smoothing Cream Scrub will help to clean the pores and will remove dead skin cells. If their skin is especially dry, exfoliating should be done more infrequently.

REALITY: This is an extra step most adults don’t make time for. I let my girls use my Clarisonic in the shower with a gentle cleanser. Using this handheld waterproof machine feels a little more high-tech, and therefore more appealing, to my gadget savvy kids.

THEY SHOULD: Use a toner appropriate for their skin type after they clean their face. Toners help to restore pH balance after cleansing.

REALITY: If you can get your child to take the time to use a toner every day, you are a better mom than me. I consider it a success when they use it once or twice a week. Every little bit helps.

Once the inevitable breakouts start, your child will probably be more motivated to try a routine. At this point, it helps to include products with anti-acne ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.

Even at young ages, it is important to moisturize your skin daily. Especially, if acne is a problem, look for non-comedogenic moisturizers. They will not clog pores.  Clean & Clear Advantage has an acne control kit with a cleanser, a moisturizer and a spot treatment.

THEY SHOULDN’T: Pop their pimples. If they are going to pop, they should use a sterilized needle and proper technique.

REALITY: It requires more self-restraint than most people have to not pop a big white head and, I am not encouraging my kids to use a needle, sterilized or not,  on their face. If they are going to pop a pimple, teach them the proper way to do it.

– they should make sure their hands and skin are very clean so that they don’t end up introducing more bacteria.

–  they should use gentle pressure and squeeze the area directly around the pimple. If it doesn’t release its pus immediately, they should wait until it is ready.

– they should clean the area right after popping with alcohol or an astringent and follow this up with an anti-bacterial ointment, such as Neosporin.

Introducing a healthy skin care routine at an early age is a great idea. Provide your kids with their own products, face cloths and towels, so they learn to take ownership of their hygiene. Keep products in an easy to grab place, remind them in a casual way what they should be doing for their skin, and most important, keep your expectations low. Many kids, including my own, will be unmotivated to take extra care with their skin until they are taking more care with their appearance. It will happen soon enough. If a few little blemishes aren’t bothering your child, embrace the fact normal teenage vanity has not yet set in.


Thinking about YOUR skin? Take a tips from Dr. Karen Latimer’s own regimen:
“My Husband Actually Said My Skin Looked Better!”
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Author: Karen Latimer

Karen is a Family Doctor, mom of five and founder of Tips From Town.


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