How To Talk To Teens About Their Skin

Teens with skin problems sometimes feel cripplingly embarrassed by it. Most things feel cripplingly embarrassing when you are a teen, to be fair. But skin problems are a sensitive issue that often cuts closer to the bone than many people would consider and can have a colossal effect on self-esteem. It doesn’t help that certain (insecure) other teens will make fun of them for the smallest pimple or a flaky patch under their eyebrow.

If a teen is suffering with skin problems, they may be reluctant to talk to you about it and may want to pretend that it isn’t as pressing a matter as it is. At the end of the day, skin health is health so regardless of what the skin problem is, you will always be better off having a handle on it as soon as possible.

Step 1: Gather your skinformation

If your teen has acne and you don’t really understand acne, you’ve already reached an impasse. Get your knowledge together, read up and know the facts versus the myths. For example, when it comes to acne, teens are more likely to suffer from it due to an influx of hormones (specifically androgens) and although diet affects acne, it is unlikely to be its cause when there is that massive influx of hormones.

Try to discern the grade of acne your teen is suffering from - you’re no GP, but this will allow you to decide whether your first port of call is skincare or the GP.

Step 2: Have a little chat

Whether your teen comes to your first, if you approach them because you sense they’re upset about it or if they seem to be entirely none too plussed about it but you’re worried about the longer term effects of their skin concerns, a chat of some sort is necessary.

Confidence is key because after your skinfo session, you’ll know what you need to know. Skin concerns can be eased. This is a fact. It may not always be easy, but you can help your teen and they need to know this.

Speak to them about their concern, explain why it is happening and talk them through what you can do. Tell them that you’re going to buy them some skincare to help them out, take them for a consultation or bring them to the GP, and remind them that there’s nothing embarrassing about it.

talking to teen about their skin

The skin problems that teens go through are the very same that adults go through (with the exceptions of lines and wrinkles, the lucky ducks). Mentioning this to them may help them to feel more normal and like it’s super manageable.

Be sensitive and try to avoid saying things like “they’re only spots, we love you anyway”. A better approach is to remind them that nothing is as noticeable to others as it is to them, and that they wouldn’t feel as embarrassed if they had a cold, for example. Let them know that anything that makes them feel less than themselves is worth trying to solve because, after all, they’re worth it.

Worse comes to worst, if you feel that they really don’t want to talk about it with you, don’t take it personally. If they’ve a cool older cousin that they get on really well with, maybe ask them if they’d be willing to chat with them about it. The important thing here is to not over-engineer it. As you know from being a teen, there’s nothing worse than thinking someone has been talking about you.

Step 3: Make a move

Now that you’ve got the teen on-board with getting it sorted, it’s time to get it sorted, baby. If you’re going down the skincare route, make sure you’re opting for products geared towards their specific skincare concern, proven to work brands and stuff that is mild enough for their slightly thinner skin.

Steer clear of the overly-drying cleansers targeted for teenage skin that you find in supermarkets and pharmacies - you know the ones we’re talking about. Although they can be effective, sometimes they’re only temporarily effective and work to dehydrate the skin, possibly causing more problems.

You want them to have three core things in their teen skincare routine: a mild treatment cleanser, a serum and an SPF. They don’t have to be expensive but they do need to be effective.

A good basic teenage routine for spot-prone skin would be a salicylic acid cleanser like Environ Focus Care Clarity+ Sebu-Wash Gel Cleanser (€39.00) or Skingredients Sally Cleanse (€25.00) plus a milder cleanser like the Biofresh Probiotic Ultra Delicate Cleansing Milk (€18.00). Serum-wise, you want something hydrating with antioxidant protection. To keep it cheap for the budget-conscious, Caudalie’s Vinosource SOS Thirst Quenching Serum is €30.00 and lasts up to two months!

In terms of SPF, anything that is broad-spectrum and with an SPF of at least 30 will do the trick, but we’re a big fan of the Neostrata Sheer Physical Protection SPF50 (€35.50) as it is mineral-based meaning it won’t irritate the skin or clog pores.

If you don’t know where to start, opt for a consultation with skincare experts. Most salons or clinics are more than happy to take teen clients and have plenty of experience in it, but if you’re looking for handiness and comfort, we do have online teen skin consultations for €25.00!

If you’ve tried the skincare route, or if you genuinely feel that your teen needs it, it’s time for the GP. We’re going to be honest: not all GPs fully understand skin or put care towards how teens are feeling about skin, so take this into consideration. Alternatively, your GP may be happy to refer your teen to a dermatologist!

Within the Nerd Network, we have a nerdie GP in the form of Dr. Olga, who can carry out examinations and prescribe treatments online, and this goes for teen Nerd Networkers too.

Step 4: Don’t micro-manage, but do keep them on track
Teens are desperate for giving up on things if they don’t see automatic results and skincare is a marathon, not a sprint. Try to get them to stick to it for a month, which is when they’ll see the biggest change in their skin.

You want to mildly nudge them, not push them though! Make sure to compliment how their skin is looking too, compliments make the world go round.

And don’t get too stressed out about it
Naturally, as a hooman, you’re going to think about it but don’t overthink it. So long as you take some form of action, it will be okay. And remember, if you have any questions, we’re always here to support you!