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Dermatologist-Reviewed Articles

Expert Opinions: Dermatologist-Approved Skincare for Teens & Tweens

Elise Minton Tabin
Writer and expert25 days ago
View Elise Minton Tabin's profile

It used to be that tweens and teenagers had a simple skincare routine consisting of one or two skincare products max, but all that is changing. Today, tweens and teens follow multi-step, somewhat complicated skincare routines that, if not properly devised and consisting of skincare ingredients and products that benefit their skin type, could be a slippery slope. At the heart of a good teenage skincare routine are proper cleansers, hydration, sun protection, and a good dermatologist on speed dial—everything else is like a cherry on top. To help your tween or teen get their skin on the path to clear and healthy, these are the best products that are safe enough for younger skin to use.

Table of Contents:

Understanding Teen and Tween Skin

Tween and teen skin are young skin that is delicate, fragile, and quickly desensitized. Since younger skin is thinner than older skin and less equipped to handle more potent active ingredients, it’s always best to keep the skincare routine simple. While every type of skin is different, the best time to begin implementing the fundamentals of a basic skincare routine is between the ages of 9 and 12.

Young skin is also on the brink of puberty and can easily face common skin conditions, including excess oil production, acne, dryness, and even sensitivities. That’s why using skincare products made with the needs of tween and teen skin in mind is crucial. Otherwise, the skin is at risk for damage, resulting in unwanted breakouts, redness, rashes, or even dry, flaky skin.

Almost any dermatologist will tell you that a good skincare routine for tweens and teens will consist of a gentle cleanser, a lightweight moisturizer, and sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. From there, individual skin concerns can be targeted if necessary—but steer clear of skincare routines with multiple unnecessary steps, skin-stripping toners, and harsh scrubs and acids.

Dermatologist-Recommended Routines for Teen

Cleansing Routine

Tween and teen skin have far different needs from more mature skin, so their routines should be more simplistic. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t be effective because skincare is to nurture the skin so it’s healthy and clear.

Cleansing is a vital part of teenage skincare and an optimal step not to be overlooked. Dermatologists typically recommend twice-daily cleansing unless the skin is dry and can only handle cleansing once daily. It’s best to always wash the face with a gentle cleanser suitable for your skin type but without overcleaning the skin, which can disrupt the skin’s balance. A good cleanser will dissolve dirt, oil makeup, and pollution sitting on the skin without leaving the skin feeling dry, tight, itchy, or irritated.

The easiest way to cleanse the skin consists of:

  1. Washing the hands first to remove dirt and bacteria
  2. Wet the face with lukewarm water to dampen the skin
  3. Apply about a dime-sized amount of cleanser onto the fingertips. Gently massage it onto the face using soft, small circular motions, paying attention to the nose, chin, and forehead.
  4. Rinse the cleanser from the face (again using lukewarm water). There should not be any lingering residue.
  5. Gently pat the face dry with a clean face towel.
  6. Continue with the next steps in your skincare routine.

Moisturizing Tips and Products

All skin types function optimally when well hydrated, and tween and teen skin is no

exception. Even though teen skin frequently deals with breakouts, keeping acne-prone skin moisturized can help limit breakouts while protecting the skin barrier and preventing dryness from some anti-acne ingredients, like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. The key, however, is to stick with noncomedogenic moisturizers with humectants like hyaluronic acid.

When moisturizing tween and teen skin, it’s best to apply the moisturizer of choice to damp skin pst-cleansing as this will help lock in the moisture. A small amount of moisturizer is usually enough to hydrate the skin, but you can always add more if your skin needs it.

Targeted Treatments for Youthful Skin Concerns

Teenagers often face their own skin concerns, which usually include acne, puberty-related changes, excess oil, and clogged pores. During the teenage years, hormones kick into overdrive, causing an uptick in sebum production, leading to excessively shiny skin and the formation of blackheads and pimples. Even long after an acne breakout has subsided, the effects can linger on the skin in the form of acne scars and dark spots known as hyperpigmentation.

A dermatologist-recommended skincare routine focusing on targeted treatments specific to what teen and tween skin needs most is always best. Knowing your skin type and what it will benefit from is a surefire way to keep young skin healthy and clear. The best place to start is to visit your dermatologist for a thorough consultation before purchasing skincare products. This way, your dermatologist can guide you toward appropriate skincare products and ingredients that will best benefit your skin.

Sun Protection Guidelines for Younger Skin

Daily sun protection is essential for all skin types, regardless of skin tone and age. Always the last step in a tween or teen skincare routine, sunscreen is the ultimate defender against UV rays, which can cause skin damage in more ways than one. While some teens may find it cumbersome to apply sunscreen daily, the earlier the habit is adopted, the better.

Noncomedogenic sunscreens are preferred for tween and teen skin, especially if breakouts are an issue. There are also plenty of new formulations as well as tinted sunscreen options to provide more of a skin-evening effect. Of course, sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours when outside and used on all areas of the skin exposed to the sun.

Healthy Lifestyle Habits for Clear and Radiant Skin

Healthy skin habits start early, and the sooner tweens and teens consider what contributes to healthy, clear skin, the quicker they will be willing to make changes. A healthy diet, drinking plenty of water, and getting a good night’s rest are the basics of a good skincare routine. Tweens and teens should also know that following a consistent skincare routine is essential, as is not picking at the skin or popping pimples.

Q&A with Dr. Ashley Magovern, board-certified dermatologist, and Medical Advisor for Dermstore

Have you seen an increase in Gen Z patients or early millennials lately? Please explain.

Yes, absolutely. It feels like this younger generation has a focus on health and wellness more than their older counterparts. They embrace coming to the office for advice on skincare, antiaging procedures, or just help in general for skin problems, like acne, eczema, and other skin irritations. Where older generations seemed to avoid coming to the doctor’s office, gen z and early millennials aren’t afraid of making an appointment and coming in and getting right to the point about their skin issues. Often, they have done their own research and come in with a suggested plan already in place. It’s nice to see them taking charge of their health.

Are you seeing an increase in procedures & requests related to anti-aging for younger patients? Please explain.

Yes, for sure. Gen Z and early millennials have more awareness of skin procedures from the internet and sources like social media and influencers- they come in seeking procedures like microneedling, chemical peels, laser and light treatments and asking for preventative Botox and fillers. This younger generation seems to focus on preventative health, and they want to ward off aging as long as possible.

Do you think the younger generation is more interested in anti-aging skincare than previous generations? Please explain.

Yes. The younger generation seeks preventative skincare and preventative procedures. They are motivated to keep their skin looking youthful and aging gracefully. They want skin clear of blemishes and pigment and fine lines and are often already doing several skincare steps and using skin devices at home. The desire for a glow is real, and something we didn’t see as much in older generations.

The Bottom Line

The key to clear, healthy teenage skin is developing a good, age-appropriate skincare routine and following it consistently. While many tweens and teens use anti-aging ingredients in their skincare routines, dermatologists agree that’s not the best approach. Instead, a simple skincare routine consisting of basic cleansing, hydration, and sun protection is advised. For tweens and teens new to skincare, it’s important to know that you probably won’t see results overnight, and that’s okay. But stick to what you’re doing; in time, you’ll see healthy, clear, glowing skin.

Elise Minton Tabin
Writer and expert
View Elise Minton Tabin's profile
Elise Minton Tabin is an award-winning beauty journalist, editor, and beauty expert with more than 16 years of experience. She previously held the title of Executive Beauty Editor at NewBeauty magazine, where she reported on beauty, plastic surgery, anti-aging, health and wellness. She was also instrumental in the launch of the beauty supplement brand Hush & Hush. A self-professed beauty junkie and retinol and sunscreen pusher, Elise knows what’s new, what works and who’s the best to go for every procedure under the sun. Follow Elise on Facebook, Instagram, and on her beauty blog,