Top tips for treating acne-prone and oily teenage skin in salon

When treating teenage skin in your salon or spa, the focus should be on prevention of blemishes and redness as well as protection to help combat excess oil. 

However, while discussion around adolescence frequently focuses on teenagers, what has become evident in recent years is the earlier onset of puberty. Children as young as seven are now entering this developmental period and consultant dermatologists find oily skin and blackheads (low-grade acne) is on the rise in the seven-to-12-year age group. 

So, while we might use the term “teen”, we might be talking about younger children too. Dermalogica’s education executive Victoria Schofield explains how to effectively treat teenage skin in your salon. 

What happens to the skin during puberty?

The primary hormone bringing about these changes is the growth hormone (GH) which surges and promotes a general increase in size and stature, while also advancing the development of various body structures including the sebaceous gland. The increased size results in more sebum production. 

Reproductive hormones also play a critical role. Both boys and girls produce the steroid sex hormones testosterone and oestradiol in various proportions. These hormones cause physical changes in the development to adulthood and testosterone is directly linked to sebum production, hence, the direct impact on changing skin condition.

The adrenal glands are another source for the production of testosterone and oestradiol. Adrenal maturation typically precedes reproductive maturation in mid-childhood. As such, before the physical changes of puberty become obvious, the chemical changes of puberty associated with adrenal function may influence changes in pre-teen skin. This includes increased metabolic function and an associated rise in sebaceous activity. 

For girls, the added influence of an establishing monthly menstrual cycle means fluctuations in hormone levels alter the balance of breakout stimulating androgens and sebum regulating oestrogens. 

The immediate increase in luteinizing hormone following ovulation also accelerates sebaceous gland activity. The higher sebum secretion then stimulates or exacerbates acne breakouts usually two to seven days prior to menstruation. That is a lot of hormone activity.

How can I help teenage clients manage these symptoms?

The general things to warn your teenage clients against include using products with SD alcohol and harsh astringents, as these will strip the skin, as well as comedogenic ingredients like mineral oils, D&C red dyes and isopropyl myristate, commonly found in blushers, foundations, lip sticks and lipliners.

They should also avoid over-cleansing the skin, using abrasive pads, and picking or squeezing spots as this will cause cross-infection, pigmentation marks and scarring. Eating a healthy diet, reducing their sugar intake and avoiding processed foods should also help reduce symptoms of oily and acne-prone teenage skin.

Your client should be doubling cleansing morning and night using an appropriate cleanser and a gentle chemical exfoliant with salicylic acid to help clear pores, such as Dermalogica’s Clear Start FlashFoliant.

Advise they treat breakouts overnight with Dermalogica’s Clear Start Breakout Clearing Booster, which uses patented technology and skin soothing botanicals to wipe out breakout-causing bacteria in just 15 minutes without drying out the skin.

Alongside establishing a good daily skincare regimen, it’s crucial to educate teens on the lifestyle factors that influence breakouts. Emotional stress from exams, for example, will increase stress hormones and testosterone, resulting in more oil and increased neurotransmitters that can promote inflammation in the skin. Research has also linked high glycaemic index foods, dairy and acne. 

Other factors include changing their pillowcases often, avoiding hair products that may come into contact with the skin, clipping their hair away from their face and maintaining a high level of hand hygiene, as well as cleaning their mobile regularly.

How will Dermalogica’s Clear Start range help treat hormonal teenage skin?

Clear Start takes a multi-level approach to clearing breakouts through combination therapy, using potent active ingredients and gentle botanicals from nature to create products that remove impaction plugs, balance the skin’s microbiome, control oiliness and reduce inflammation.

To appeal to the younger client, the Clear Start regimen is kept simple with additional targeted treatment products for more stubborn breakouts or those skins needing extra clearing. 

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