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Teen Skin S.O.S

Resolve teenage skin angst with our expert guide. crack

If you’re getting accustomed to the sounds of angsty sighs and whinges from behind the bathroom door, the chances are you have a teenager tackling their changing skin. With mind-boggling boys and homework schedules to deal with, a bout of angry spots can feel like the end of the world for young girls. Getting to know the inside of mum’s beauty cabinet (without permission, naturally) and taking on board conflicting advice from friends and magazines can make for a wobbly initiation into the world of skincare.

Beauty journalist Alice Hart-Davis became aware of the minefield facing teens when her daughter suddenly started asking questions about her looks and routines.

“One summer, when Molly was 12, she became mad keen to shave her legs and wouldn’t let the matter drop,” Alice explains. “Then she started asking what she should use to wash her face, and whether she could wear a bit of make-up...”

As a beauty beginner, Molly had so many questions she became the ideal co-author alongside her mother to write ‘Be Beautiful’ - a book offering need-to-know practical advice for inquisitive teens. Many of the tips are handy for debunking beauty myths for big kids too. You may not be able to work out that maths equation or ease boyfriend woes, but you can boost her confidence in beauty.

The ‘S’ word
‘Spots’ are every young girl’s worst enemy and few manage to glide through their teens without outbreaks.

“Teens dread getting them,” Alice says. “When they do get spots, it’s (in their minds) a major disaster.

“Everyone will tell you a different way to keep them under control, or get rid of them. What teens need to know is that spots are basically a side-effect of the hormones that are rampaging around their bodies.

“If they can keep them under control with tea-tree oil, or with over-the-counter anti-spot products from the chemist, great. But if they are a real problem, go and see your GP.”

If spots are persisting, your GP can not only prescribe a medicated product to help but also refer troubled skin to a dermatologist for solutions.
Try: Clean & Clear Advantage Spot Control Kit, £12.99 (Boots); Murad Blemish Complex Kit, £29.95 (; Clearasil Ultra Spot Blocker Pen, £6.82 (

Covert operation
Make-up may be new or unknown territory to your daughter but a small amount of blemish cover can make pesky spots virtually vanish and make her feel ‘normal’ enough to face the school gates. Many teens mistakenly think wearing make-up to cover spots and pimples make them worse but with the right products and methods she can help make them disappear, according to Alice.

“If make-up is powder-based and made from minerals, then it should be fine. Powdery make-up helps soak up excess oil,” she says.

“Try not to smother the whole face in make-up. See if she can get by using a medicated blemish-cover stick.”

Blemish sticks contain antiseptic and bacterial ingredients to help dry out the spots and reduce inflammation.

Alice says: “Tinted ones act like a concealer to help provide cover - use one the same colour as your skin. Dab it on gently and, if you need to, blend the colour with a fingertip.”

Try: Green People Oy! Cover & Clear Spot It, £6.99 (01403 740350/; 17 Hide Away Concealer Stick costing £3.49 (Boots); Witch Targeting Concealer, £4.99 (Boots).

Pocket money products
Teens are at that half-way stage where complex anti-ageing ingredients like Pentapeptides and Retinol are a world away, but Hello Kitty and novelty glitter products are too young to make their beauty wish lists. So what should they be investing their pocket money in to kick off a good basic routine?

“A cleanser that won’t dry your skin out, so a soap-free cream or lotion that you can massage on, then remove with a flannel that has been wrung out in hot water,” Alice recommends. “In the morning, a moisturiser with a built-in SPF of 15. If her skin is on the oily side, a gel moisturiser is more suitable than a creamy one. At night she should only use a moisturiser if skin feels dry after cleansing.”

There are a growing number of beauty products targeted specifically at the teen market that are suited to younger skin.

“There are specialist brands like Amie, which is lovely, natural stuff at pocket-money prices, (Reviewed last month and available from Absolute Beauty, 10 Prestbury Road - 01242 579 600) and Face Boutique and Elizabeth’s Daughter - both great though more expensive,” Alice says.