Dan Thompson: Beauty Busted


Acne Solutions For Teenagers

Navigating The Drugstore Aisle

There are great products for skin at every price point. I have said this for yearsit is a myth that more money means better quality, and it is a myth that you cannot find great skin care at very low prices.  

My regular mantra is: when you find something that works and you can afford it, then buy it. Of course, that leads to the question I was recently asked:

"How do you help a teenager find good skin care to treat acne?"

There are a few things to consider when it comes to acne:

1. Teenage skin is actually adult skin.  

Once puberty has set in, the skin is the skin the individual will have as an adult. Acne is not a "teenage" problem. Yes, it might be a little overactive during the younger years, but people who have acne will have it for life. Over 50% of adults suffer from acne and, with rare exception, developed it in early adulthood.  Skin needs to be treated as if it were adult skin, because it is.  While the teenager isn't fully an adult yet, the skin certainly is. This is not the time to look for a band-aid fix for the skin.

2. Acne is not about hygeine or diet.

True, a poor diet makes the problem worse, but it is not the cause of the problembacteria is the culprit. Kill the bacteria and you kill the acne.

3. Oily skin can be acneic, but acneic skin is not always oily.  

Got it? Most people think drying out skin with acne is the key, but this will only hurt the skin, which is already dry. All skin needs moisturizer. The skin is mostly water and the better hydrated it is, the more healthy it will be overallincluding a decrease in acne.

4. There is no magic bullet.

Treating acne is ongoing, and flare-ups will happen. Be patient and consistent with treatment, and remember that just because the teenager may break out from time to time, it does not mean the solutions are not workinglike any part of the body, the skin is living and breathing and sometimes just does not behave as well as we would like.

To address each concern:

1. Skin really only needs two skin care items to be healthy: good cleanser and good moisturizer.  

Yes, sunscreen is important and there are other skin care items that make the skin look great, but the basics are cleanser and moisturizer. These two steps will address about 80-90% of all skin care concerns.

Using great formulas is important, but also using them properly is critical for success.  

Step 1: Cleanse every day, but only once per day. Yes, this flies in the face of most skin care advice, but for acne skin, over-cleaning will lead to drying out the surface of the skin. The drier the skin, the more bacteria can grow, and the more bacteria growing, the more breakouts. Clean only at night, using warm water and a washcloth. Make sure the water is standing, not running. Rinse the washcloth completely between wipes across the face. Do not rub too hard, but be thorough.

Step 2: Apply moisturizer immediately after cleansing. Always! No exceptions. Of course, it is important to use a good formula, but without moisturizer the skin cannot heal.

Step 3: Rinse the skin with warm water every morning using good friction. Apply moisturizer immediately after rinsing the skin.

2. Anti bacterial treatment is NOT about using acid or peroxide on the skin.  

This might have been true about ten years ago, but it is not the best option anymore. Technology is the keyblue light at a 414nm wavelength can kill up to 95% of all acne-causing bacteria. For many decades these treatments were only available at a doctor's office, but there are home devices that work and are sold in the drugstore. Yes, it is an investment, but they do work and last a very long time.  

Under no circumstances should you apply any of the following to the skin to treat acne:

1. Alcoholwhether it is direct or in a formula, like a toner or a moisturizer. Cetyl Alcohol is the only exception, as this is a hydrating compound. But any other form is going to dry out the skin.

2. Peroxidein any form. It will clear up the acne but also causes pigment issues later.

3. Acidsacneic skin is already exfoliating too much. Extra acids will only make the skin more sensitive.

4. Sulphur/camphor/mentholthese are simply outdated acne treatments that have never really worked at all.

My suggestions for acne control products that you can find in your local drugstore:

Cleanser: Neutrogena One Step Gentle Cleanser (approx. $8 for 150mL)

A great all-in-one product, safe for all skin types, soap-free, and perfect for using around the eyes.

Moisturizer: Olay Total Effect 7-in-1 Moisturizer (approx. $25 for 50mL)

Don't let the "anti ageing" label worry you, this is a great all-purpose moisturizer that will work for 95% of people.

Blue Light Technology: TANDA Clear+ ($195)

The exact same technology used by doctors to treat acne. This home care product provides thousands of treatments.

Spot Control: TANDA Zap ($49)

The same technology as TANDA Clear+, but in a small size for occasional breakouts. Usually clears up mild acne within 24 hours.

Tomorrow: Fact or Fiction​Anti Wrinkle Creams Can Make You Look Younger.