This blog post looks into the best ways to get rid of teen acne naturally. I’m looking into the causes of teenage acne and the natural acne treatments available for tweens, teens and beyond.
There wasn’t one single day of my teens where I wasn’t battling a breakout. Still to this day, I’ve struggled with acne for more years of my life than I’ve had clear skin. My moderate/severe acne spanned over 15 years from the age of 9 years old to 26, when I finally took matters into my own hands and healed the root causes of my acne breakouts.
what is teen acne?
Teen acne is a common skin condition that is suspected to affect over 85% of teenagers. Just because it’s common, doesn’t make any less painful and frustrating to deal with. Teen acne can appear as blackhead, clogged pores, pustules, red pimples and in severe cases, deep, painful cysts. Thankfully, all types of teen acne can and should be treated naturally, there are so many effective teen acne treatments that don’t require harsh chemicals or medication.
I spent my entire teenage years battling acne and tried all the conventional treatments from Clinique’s and ProActiv’s 3 step systems, to oral antibiotics and the pill. Yet nothing worked! As the years went on and my skin got worse, I threw myself into being an A-star student, working tirelessly to be the best that I could. If I couldn’t have beautiful skin like all my friends, then I wanted to at least be known for being good at something. But it was never enough, my self esteem still took a battering ever time I looked in the mirror. All I wanted was clear skin, yet it took me 15 years to realise that I’d been looking in all the wrong places and in fact, I could easily have cleared my teen acne – if I’d only taken a little bit more care of myself and stopped searching for a miracle pill or skin care product!
what causes teen acne?
Overactive hormones are often to blame for teen acne but it’s not always just puberty that triggers the onset of teenage breakouts. For the majority of teens, as they approach puberty, hormones called androgens go into overdrive and cause the skin to produce excess oil which clogs the pores and allows bacteria to grow and create a big juicy spot. However, if your acne starts years before you reach puberty then it’s not just teen hormones that are to blame for your acne.
My acne started at age 9, 3 years before I started wearing a bra and 4 years before my period started! My acne wasn’t just caused by puberty (though as soon as I did reach puberty, my acne started getting much worse). My teen acne was caused by fussy eating habits and a poor diet consisting of way too much junk food. Growing up I never ate my vegetables, I was so fussy and basically lived off chicken nuggets and chips – I was super sporty and never put on any weight so my diet never really seemed cause for concern, however my skin was telling a different story! My mum struggled to get me to eat a healthy balanced diet and Sunday roasts would always consist of either ‘brown chicken’ (beef/lamb) or ‘white chicken’ (pork/ACTUAL chicken) because I refused to eat anything but chicken! On top of being fussy and not eating my vegetables and natural whole foods, I also ate way too much junk food! Every day after school I’d have chocolate bars and glasses of cola before eating my chicken nugget dinner, void of any nutritional benefits. The result? My skin was dull but greasy and my forehead was covered in tiny pimples that slowly migrated to my cheeks as I got closer to puberty.
At the time, I had no idea how sugar and junk food was affecting my skin. But now, after years of research, I know understand how sugar has the power to create hormone imbalance too! Similarly to when we hit puberty, sugar causes our bodies to produce too many androgens, these androgen hormones cause our oil glands to produce MORE oil, clogged pores and breakouts! This is the same for EVERYONE – tweens, teens, adults, boys, girls, men and women…too much sugar in our diet = acne!
Over-indulging in sugary treats and other high carb foods causes the pancreas to dump a load of insulin and IGF-1 to help maintain balanced blood sugar. While insulin is essential to maintaining blood sugar balance, too much insulin and IGF-1 wrecks just as much havoc on your skin as acne villains; androgens. Not only does too much insulin lead to increased sebum production but it also makes the skin extra sensitive to androgens which will further increase sebum production, blocked pores and inflammation. Unfortuantely, whether you get your sugar fix from refined table sugar or organic, raw coconut nectar hand picked from virgin coconuts the effects will still be the same on your acne. Luckily there are two natural sweeteners that are great for acne sufferers – head over to the blog for my latest chocolatey Pancake Day inspired recipe that won’t send your blood sugar into overdrive! [link in bio]
In most cases, teen hormones will settle down within a couple of years without any intervention but for those whose acne appears before puberty hits, it’s important to focus on eating a healthy balanced diet as it’s these cases of acne that can often carry on into adulthood unless they’re treated early. Whether you teen acne is caused by the onset of puberty or too much junk food, if you want to fast track your way to clear skin and don’t want to wait for teen acne to clear on it’s own, there are a few things you can do to speed up the process.
how to get rid of teen acne naturally
Cutting back on sugar and junk food and eating more vegetables and healthy fats is the easiest was to get rid of teen acne naturally. Sugar and processed foods that contain additives, artificial dyes and industrial fats cause inflammation and make our pores produce excess oil. As I’ve already mentioned in this post already, too much sebum increases the risk of clogged pores and breakouts. As well as cutting down on the bad stuff, teen acne can be greatly improved by adding more of the good stuff! Some of my favourite foods that help clear teen acne and blemishes include:
- Kale, broccoli and spinach – full of antioxidants and fibre to reduce inflammation and promote a healthy digestive system
- Butter and eggs – rich sources of healthy fats and essential fat-soluble vitamins that help clear acne
- Mackerel and salmon – full of omega 3-fatty acids that have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects on the skin
- Berries and citrus fruits – rich in vitamin C which can even out skin tone and reduce scarring
- Macadamia nuts and chia seeds – high in anti-inflammatory omega 3-fatty acids and low in inflammatory omega-6 (unlike other nuts and seeds which are high in omega-6)
- Water – drinking plenty of water is essential for flushing out toxic waste that could otherwise seep through out skin and cause spots
With everything I’ve learnt about acne over the last few years, it’s now so obvious to me what was causing my teen acne – my bad diet! If I could tell my 13 year old self one thing it would be that all the junk I was eating was the main factor that was preventing me from having beautiful clear skin like my friends. To be fair, at aged 13, I probably wouldn’t have listened and just carried on trying to find that miracle acne product that meant I could still eating crap all day, everyday. *NEWSFLASH* There is no miracle product! Skin care products are just band-aid solutions! After 15 years of trying every topical acne treatment going, I finally (begrudgingly) gave the whole healthy eating thang a try combined with gentle, natural skin care products and you know what? It was the best thing I ever did, not just for my skin, but for my energy levels, hair, nails and general overall health!
skin care for teen acne
Oh. My. God. The things I did to my skin when I was a teenager!? From using toothpaste as a face mask to abrasive scrubs, I made my skin ten times worse by simply being way to harsh! I totally get that overpowering urge to throw every single product at your face and perform every single spot zapping trick in an attempt to get rid of teen acne, but 9 times out of 10, these strategies just make our skin a hundred times worse. Not only will our spots STILL be there, but we will also have red, raw skin that seems to be getting worse every day…so what do we do? Add more harsh products and hope for the best?
No. Just no.
The secret to healthy clear skin is working WITH your skin, not against it! I spent my whole teen years searching for a skin care system that worked – from Dermalogica to ProActiv and FreeDerm to Clinique – yet rather than leaving me with beautiful clear skin like in the ads, I was left with red, blotchy, dry, flaky AND oily skin with spots! The ingredients used in mainstream skin care products are so harsh on the skin – some Clinique products have even been known to strip paint (yikes!)
Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), alcohol, petrochemicals, synthetic fragrances and colourants are just some of the nasty ingredients found in skin care that could be making teen acne worse. Sodium Lauryl Sulphate and alcohol are one of the worse as they damage the protective skin barrier and cause dryness and irritation. Our skin fights this dryness with MORE oil and as we already discussed in this post, more oil often means more acne. Other ingredients to watch out for are mineral oils and petrochemicals which can block pores, preventing your skin from breathing and trap dirt and bacteria which can lead to breakouts.
Working with your skin and using gentle, natural ingredients that balance oil production instead of causing more oil production is the #1 strategy for teen acne skin care. Not only will these natural products help balance out greasy skin, but are also less likely to aggravate sensitive skin and actually contain ingredients that help heal the skin quicker!
skin care products for teenage acne
So… where do you find effective, natural products for teenage acne? Thankfully, the cosmetic geniuses at Green People developed the first and only certified organic range purely for teens called OY! (Organic Young). This range contains some of THE BEST natural ingredients for acne prone skin, as not a single harsh or pore clogging ingredient in sight!
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Because it’s natural, it means it won’t work as well as chemical acne treatments, right? Well you’re wrong! Green Tea extract is my top skin care ingredient for acne has been shown in clinical studies to reduce sebum production by 60% and both Black Willow Bark and Tea Tree have been shown to be effective at fighting acne causing bacteria without damaging the skin and Black Willow Bark also exfoliates the skin and prevents pores from getting clogged up. Not only that, but this organic range also contains Zinc Oxide which heals spots, Rosehip oil to fade scarring and red marks left by acne, Aloe Vera to calm the skin and Prebiotics which support the growth of GOOD bacteria whilst restricting harmful bacteria.
The OY! range consists of 3 simple skin care essentials (Face Wash, Moisturiser and Treatment Serum) and an extra tinted concealer for girls.
Step 1: Cleanse your skin with OY! Foaming Face Wash
Step 2: Moisturiser your skin OY! Cleansing Moisturiser
Step 3: At night, treat spot prone areas with a small blob of OY! Purifying Treatment Serum
*Optional* The OY! Blemish Concealer is great to wear alone or underneath mineral foundation. I personally don’t think it works brilliantly as a concealer as there is currently only one colour option so is harder to get a perfect skin match. However, I’ve grown to love it as an all-over tinted moisturiser/primer for underneath mineral make up as it offers really great coverage. It also feels wonderful knowing that the first layer of make up is totally acne safe and is actually HELPING heal blemishes rather than aggravate them. How you apply it also makes a big difference to how it looks on the skin and I find it works best applied with clean fingers, tapping it into the skin, or a beauty sponge rather than a foundation brush.
>> save 15% off the OY! range with code SKYNTHERAPY OR 3 for 2 on the whole range with code CLEARSKIN <<
Whilst aimed at teen acne, I actually believe these products are the best for acne full stop! It’s so hard to find moisturisers and cleansers that a truly safe for breakouts and specifically targeted at reducing acne and healing the skin WITHOUT clogging pores. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve researched a promising looking skin care product only to find it contains coconut oil or palm oil (super pore clogging!) or alcohol or SLS (causes more oil production!)
The only caveat I would say about using this range for adult acne is that you probably need an extra facial oil over the top for extra nourishment and anti-ageing properties. My favourites facial oils for acne are Indie Lee Squalene Oil (US), MV Jojoba Oil (US) and Pai Rosehip Oil (US).
supplements for teen acne
I don’t believe that teens need to take tonnes of supplements to get rid of acne naturally. 9 times out of 10, eating a healthy balanced diet and using gentle, natural skin care is enough to send teen acne packing! However, there is one supplement which I believe to be the gold star of acne supplements and that is Cod Liver Oil.
Do you take Cod Liver Oil for its awesome acne clearing potential? As well as taking a specific vitamin D supplement, I also take 5ml of Rosita EVCLO which is one of the best supplements you can take for acne as it contains pure, food sourced, synergistically balanced nutrients that balances hormones and reduce oil production.
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Cod Liver Oil contains omega 3s and vitamin A – two nutrients that are so so important for clearing acne that I recommend it everyone. Not only do these nutrients have incredible benefits on the skin, they also calm, soothe and repair the inflamed lining of the gut which also promotes clearer, healthier skin in the long run too. On top of being super calming and anti-inflammatory, the bioavailable vitamin A found in Cod Liver Oil helps prevent dead skin cells from clogging pores, reduces oil production, suppresses androgen production and protects fats from oxidation (oxidised fats can cause serious inflammation).
The cod liver oil I take is a brand called Rosita – it’s quite expensive but it is the very best and offers a really high, pure dose of vitamin A (which is, hands down, the best vitamin for acne). Cheaper cod liver oils are processed which removes all the vitamins and then they get put back in – usually at not very high doses (Rosita has 4,000-5,000iu of vitamin A and cheaper brands like Calson’s and Mollers have 250-850iu of vitamin A… As the vitamin A is what you need to clear acne, I believe it’s worth the extra ££!)
If you are considering taking other supplements to help get rid of teen acne, I strongly advise that you seek support from a naturopath as they will be able to determine the right dose for your age group and personal needs.
Do you have any questions about getting rid of teen acne naturally? Are you struggling with teen acne? Let me know your questions in the comments below!
Peace, Love & Clear Skin