Junior Acne

cream routine for women mymatcha laroche posay

skincare training wheels

A rite of passage.  A sign of maturity.  A horror movie.  A pepperoni pizza.  Yes... these are among the myriad of cultural (and sub-cultural) ways in which we refer to acne.  The truth is, whether we are victims or observers, we know it well... the embarrassment and shame of a pimple outbreak. I recall being quite young when I thought of my forehead as bearing a strong resemblance to a patch of Israeli couscous. The horror.  Even when the bumps go unnoticed by others, it can feel like a hostile takeover.  As a skincare expert, I felt a compelling urge to learn as much as I could about how to navigate the tumultuous years that lie ahead for my children, but also for my fellow young friends who just want to help minimize both the physical and psychological damage that can occur from acne. 


_Youth Acne

is the most common skin disease and affects 80% of teens around the globe. It is characterized by pimples on the face, chest, and back. It occurs when the pores of the skin become clogged with oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria.  The severity can be genetic.  Acne tends to develop at the onset of puberty, usually between the ages of 10 and 13.

When is the right time to make the leap from baby wash and SPF to something more grown-up?

I decided to engage the advice of Dr. Linda Ptito, a pioneer in aesthetic medicine.  Her clinic employs estheticians who specialize in the treatment of adolescent acne and ‘teen’ facials.  She has a very healthy approach to how acne should be handled and is strongly opposed to the use of medication to treat acne (unless a case is so severe that all other treatment plans have been proven unsuccessful).  

PRE-Training Wheels.

Whatever you do, you must never wait until acne is an issue for your kids before taking action because oftentimes, kids don’t become concerned until it’s actually too late.  It’s never too early to teach your kids about hygiene.  At the very first sign of changing pores, or oiliness, introduce an over-the-counter neutral, non-aggressive wash (like Cetaphil for instance) to clean the face, morning and night.  In addition, daily sun protection (non-comedogenic) must never be overlooked, even on days when the sun is out of sight.  UV rays always surround us, rain or shine.  The idea is to establish a self-care routine from very early on and to start teaching them how to look after their skin.

The Training Wheels.

A skincare regimen that is simple, portable and accessible.
AM: (Start with steps 1 & 2, and only add step 3 if condition is stubborn).

Step 1

A cleanser with 2% salicylic acid to unclog pores.

Obagi CLENZIderm M.D. Daily Care Foaming Cleanser (2% salicylic acid): A light, foaming acne cleanser with 2% salicylic acid and cooling menthol to wash away impurities, leaving skin feeling clean and refreshed.

Step 2

Obagi Nu-Derm® Toner

A toner to restore the skin’s pH in order to prepare it for optimal penetration of other product ingredients.

Step 3

A 5% benzoyl peroxide solution because it’s anti-inflammatory and helps kill bacteria and stops it from spreading.

Obagi CLENZIderm Therapeutic Lotion (5% BPO)

Lightweight lotion with 5% BPO uniquely formulated to deliver medication deep within the pores, where acne starts.

Step 4

Sunscreen. Something with an SPF of at least 50, and must be non-comedogenic. La Roche-Posay Anthelios Dermo-Kids Gentle Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Lotion With SPF 50.

PM: (Again, start with steps 1 & 2, and only add step 3 if condition is stubborn).

Step 1 

A cleanser with 2% salicylic acid to unclog pores.

Step 2 

A toner to restore the skin’s pH in order to prepare it for optimal penetration of other product ingredients.

Step 3

Retinol (Vitamin A).  Can only be used at night because its potency becomes neutralized by daylight, as well as by benzoyl peroxide.  


Retinol was the first acne treatment used over 40 years ago.  Long-term observational research led to the discovery of its positive effects on skin rejuvenation.  

On moisturizing: If there is an obvious need for a moisturizer, it must be water-based in order to avoid the ‘mis-regulation’ of sebum production.  Aquafolia is an effective option; it’s a natural product that is made in Quebec and is well-suited to oily and problem skin.

Fabienne Sebaoun
acne emoji
The Word on Facials.
By way of more urban cultures, the word ‘facial’ epitomizes all that is pampering and superfluous but in reality, facials should be likened to a dental cleaning or considered part of a healthy skin protocol. There are estheticians who are specially trained for this purpose. Part of helping our teens and tweens face the perils of acne is by teaching them to care for their skin but as soon as the oils turn to blackheads and the attack starts to mount, a small cleaning every now and again becomes a quintessential game changer.

It is true that we cannot change the course that nature will take, but at the same time, we should not proverbially throw our hands up in the air and give into it either... there is a way to soften the acne blow while teaching our kids to develop their own self-care repertoire.