Trying to workout the best skincare routine for teens? Facialist Abigail James reveals how to treat and support skin during the difficult teenage years

Any products in this article have been selected editorially however if you buy something we mention, we may earn commission

Not all teens will experience skin issues. There’s often a connection between genetics and how your skin will fare – the fact is that we can’t fight the internal hormones doing what mother nature intended – but the great news is that there are ways to support the skin, no matter what might be happening on and beneath the surface.

Balance oil production & maintain skin health

If your skin is playing up, it’s likely to be because your levels of testosterone have risen. This increases sebum production and makes the skin oilier. At the same time, keratin (one of the main skin-building blocks) becomes more abundant. Increased amounts of both sebum and keratin blocks pores, which encourages bacteria and spots to form. In some cases, the skin becomes inflamed and spots develop into acne.

If your concern is sensitivity, it might be that you’ve started using the wrong skincare products. Too harsh, too synthetic or highly perfumed products may have this effect.

Alternatively, it could be that your skin is naturally dry and needs a gentler approach.

Skin changes

• Sebaceous glands get bigger
• Oil production increases
• More keratin is produced, making the skin thicker
• A weak skin barrier , resulting in spots or sensitivity
• Cell turnover is around 28 days

Common problems

• Spots
• Sensitivity
• Blackheads
• Shine and excess oil

You may have chosen to go on to birth control, which also disrupts your natural hormone balance. Exam stress is another factor.

Choosing the right products

Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic potion to bust spots in seconds. Traditional treatments can be harsh, leaving the skin feeling clean but stripping it of its natural oils, which the skin strives to replace by overproducing a fresh supply. This is what brings on that midday shine.

The key to breaking the cycle is effective cleansing. Opt for a gentle gel wash morning and night over the entire face, then apply a targeted treatment product directly to the spot. These usually contain salicylic acid, which has antibacterial properties. Natural alternatives are tea tree oil and essential oils such as lavender.

Use at night and wash off in the morning, as most essential oils make the skin more sensitive to sunlight. Before bedtime, apply a small amount of dry oil. Once a week, use a balancing or deep-cleansing face mask – aloe vera, clay, salicylic acid, mud and honey.

Time for a professional treatment?

These are usually unnecessary, but if your skin is becoming spottier or blackheads bug you, a deep-cleansing facial or a course of LED light therapy will help.

Listen to your skin

We’ve all had it drummed into us that we should be using a moisturiser every single day, but if it's merely making yours greasier, then try applying it every other day and see how your complexion responds. If you’re using a spot-busting product containing salicylic acid, make sure you give it time to work – usually a skin cycle of a month – and be sure to balance it with a hydrating oil or serum, as it will dry the skin.


Cut down on...

• Cow’s milk.
• Sugar – if you crave fizzy drinks, try kombucha (a fermented, naturally fizzy drink, traditionally made from sweetened black or white tea, and packed with good gut bacteria) or sparkling water with cranberry juice and a teaspoon of honey.

Eat more of...

• Zinc, as it balances hormones.
• Seeds such as sesame, flaxseed, sunflower and pumpkin. They contain zinc,  magnesium  and essential fatty acids, which are vital for skin function.

Key foods to eat

• Bananas.
• Pumpkin seeds.
• Broccoli.
• Milk alternatives such as coconut, hemp, almond.


• Cleanse daily, morning and night
• Keep it simple – sometimes less is more
• Apply a tiny amount of an oil at night to rebalance sebum levels
• Apply a weekly mask
• Drink water


• Use products containing mineral oils, such as petroleum oil. These block pores and make the skin look dehydrated and dull
• Over-strip the skin – it’s not ‘dirty’, it’s simply out of balance
• Use night creams as they’re too heavy for young skin
• Over-exfoliate as it can lead to sensitivity – once a week is a good starting point

This is an extract taken from  Love Your Skin  by Abigail James, £20, Published by Kyle Books, Photography by Jenni Hare

Find out more about Abigail James on her  website  and follow her on Instagram  here