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Health & Parenting

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Teach Your Teen About Skincare

Encourage good habits now for a lifetime of glowing skin.
By Ayren Jackson-Cannady
WebMD Magazine - Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

The skincare habits you show your teen today will help keep her skin healthy for the rest of her life. Laurie Polis, MD, director of dermatologic services at SoHo Skin & Laser Dermatology in New York City, says it's never too early or too late to encourage a healthy skin routine for your teen. "It's important to know that skin changes throughout life. So skin care regimens should be adjusted accordingly," she says.

An Optimal Teen Skin Regimen

Have your teen establish a twice-daily cleansing ritual, Polis says. "Just as you brush your teeth morning and evening, you should wash your face a.m. and p.m. as well."

The cleanser your teen chooses should depend on the goal. Choose an anti-acne or medicated cleanser for breakout-prone skin, a moisturizing and gentle cleanser for sensitive skin, or an exfoliating cleanser for dull skin. Chemical exfoliators containing glycolic or salicylic acid and physical exfoliators -- such as scrubs, facial sponges, or skin-cleansing devices -- boost skin-cell turnover, which can help with acne, dull skin, and pigment irregularity.

If your teen tends to blow off the evening wash altogether, leave a pack of gentle face wipes on her bedside table. They don't require water to nix dirt and day-old makeup.

Serum Choices for Teens

After each cleansing, your teen should apply a topical treatment serum. "Remind your daughter that some of the ingredients in topical products have more than one benefit or function," Polis says. Retinols in skin products, for instance, have anti-acne, anti-aging, and pigment-evening properties.

Sunscreen Smarts

The final and mandatory step is to emphasize sunscreen application. "One of the most important skin care lessons you can teach your daughter is that anti-aging goes hand-in-hand with anti-cancer since both involve sun protection," Polis says. A moisturizer with broad-spectrum SPF, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays, will help keep skin hydrated and protected.

Teach your teen to apply sunscreen every day, rain or shine. She should put it on under makeup 20 minutes before going outside and reapply at least every 2 hours, more if swimming or sweating. There are many lotions, sprays, and brush-on sunscreens to choose from.

Reviewed on November 14, 2012

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