With the onset of teenage years comes a dramatic change in hormone levels - in particular an increase in the production of testosterone, a male hormone which is produced by both men and women. Testosterone can trigger the sebaceous glands in the skin to produce increased levels of sebum, which gives rise to an oilier complexion and can provide the perfect environment for pimples to thrive. Furthermore, if you already have oily or combination skin, you are more likely to suffer from outbreaks.

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Why is my skin misbehaving?

If your parents had problems with their skin when they were young, the chances are so will you. However, there are two main reasons why previously 'well-behaved' skin suddenly takes on a whole new, erratic personality:

  1. During your teens your hormones go into overdrive, which can lead to an escalation in sebum production. Although sebum is produced naturally and is essential to keep the skin moisturised and protected, in larger quantities it can result in an oily complexion, leaving you more likely to develop pimples - often when you least want them.
  2. Stress can also contribute to the problem as it can prompt an influx of more testosterone. This in turn leads the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum, resulting in further pimples.

Looking after your skin

The good news is that as you get older, oil production should start to slow down and your skin can become your friend again.

But what to do in the meantime?

It's never too early to start caring for your skin and these seven simple steps are the starting point for better skin (see also 'Dietary Supplements'):

  • Get moving - exercise releases feel-good hormones called endorphins, which help relieve stress and prevent the accompanying influx of testosterone it creates. Furthermore, exercise boosts the body's natural detoxification process and stimulates the flow of oxygen to cells, increasing the health of your skin. Remember to cleanse skin thoroughly after exercise to wash away any toxins and grime that have built up on your skin as these can lead to more pimples.
  • Get some zzz's - skin renews itself overnight, so if you're not getting enough sleep (you need at least eight hours a night), this will show in your skin.
  • Food for thought - your skin is a reflection of what's going on inside, so it makes sense that healthy skin starts from within. That means lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and not overdosing on sugar, saturated fat and 'fast' food. It's reported that foods rich in vitamin E and B complex vitamins, especially B2 and B6, can also help reduce oiliness. Find these in foods such as wholegrain cereals, egg yolks, meat, beans and nuts.
  • Water works - drinking at least 1.5 litres of filtered or bottled water a day will help your body to flush out skin-dulling toxins and keep skin hydrated.
  • Get skincare savvy - no matter what type of skin you have, it needs a gentle daily skincare regime morning and evening to give it the best chance of feeling healthy and looking great (see ‘Skincare advice').
  • Make it up - great at disguising blemishes while giving you a confidence boost, choose non-comedogenic formulations that allow your skin to breathe. Always remove make-up before you go to bed - cleanse thoroughly to remove all traces of make-up and daily grime.
  • Shaving tip - don't use a gel that contains menthol as this can aggravate acne-prone skin. Sensitive Shave Cream contains naturally active ingredients including shave grass, clary sage and eucalyptus which work together to comfort, calm and smooth skin. Try switching to an electric razor when your skin is really playing up.

Dietary supplements

Nutritional supplements can benefit problematic skin. If spots tend to appear when you are run-down, this could be a sign that your immune system needs a boost. Echinacea is a herb that's proven to be immune-stimulating and is available both as a daily dose solution and as a tablet. If you are feeling stressed (such as at exam time), vitamin B is also said to be very balancing.

Skincare advice

Young skin responds well to a gentle, simple and regular skincare routine. Those three little words 'cleanse, tone, moisturise' have stood the test of time because they really work! Here's how:

  • Cleanse - vital for removing daily grime and bacteria that can lead to spots. Cleansing also helps shift dead skin cells and clear pores to leave skin brighter and clearer. Ultra-kind to skin, you could try our award-winning Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser. Purifying eucalyptus oil, soothing chamomile and toning hops help put you back in control of your skin.
  • Tone - refreshing and soothing, our Instant Boost Skin Tonic, is alcohol-free so does not strip skin of its natural oils. Gentle enough for even sensitive skin types, it contains calendula and cucumber to calm plus skin-conditioning panthenol and geranium to tone.
  • Moisturise - for nourishing and protecting your skin, moisturising is an essential final step of your daily skincare regime and there's no exception for younger skin. If your skin is oily you could try our Skin Repair Light, which contains moisturising avocado, borage, antioxidant beta-carotene and natural source vitamin E to help condition your skin without overloading it. Alternatively for men, our After-Shaving Moisturiser is a light, easily absorbed formula that contains self-heal, a natural remedy for skin irritation, natural source vitamin E which can help heal and borage to help calm and moisturise.

Want to know more?

These websites are useful to bookmark as they tend to offer balanced and credible viewpoints, backed with detailed peer-reviewed research on all kinds of health and beauty myths:

  • Dermnetnz dermnetnz.org Although quite serious in tone, this thorough site covers a comprehensive list of skin conditions in detail, as well as offering general skincare facts.
  • The National Eczema Society
    Hill House Highgate Hill
    London N19 5NA
    Helpline Tel: 0870 241 3604
    eczema.org If you suffer from eczema, this organisation dedicated to helping and supporting the needs of people with eczema, dermatitis and sensitive skin offers a factsheet specifically for teenagers.
  • Kidshealth kidshealth.org This very user-friendly health site has useful sections on young skin, covering topics such as acne, eczema and general skincare advice in a down-to-earth fashion.

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