How To Introduce Your Tween Or Teen To A Skincare Routine

Unsure where to start when buying your tween or teen their first skincare products? Ashleigh Cometti chats to two teen beauty experts who agree it’s never too early to start taking care of skin

It's a case of back to basics where caring for tween and teen skin is concerned. Here's how to help build their skincare routine with (relative) ease. Photo / Evre

 Gen Z are undeniably more schooled up on skincare than we were as adolescents, with many sourcing their beauty advice from their favourite celebrities and influencers on TikTok and YouTube.

For parents, navigating the minefield that is tween and teen beauty can be overwhelming — especially when requests start flooding in from over-eager youngsters who want to achieve the same “glow” as their favourite celeb.

At the other end of the spectrum, some teens may be noticing changes in their skin, but are unsure of which products they should be using to promote a healthy, balanced complexion.

Back when I was 13, there was only a small number of products to choose from (St Ives Apricot Scrub, anyone?) but as the number of teen-targeted skincare ranges continue to multiply, there are far more decisions to make.

Below, we speak to the founders of two of Aotearoa’s new-to-market teen skincare brands for their practical tips to caring for tween and teen skin.

Understanding tween and teen skin

Exactly how puberty will affect your teen’s skin is a mystery until it hits, and an article published by The New Zealand Medical Journal in 2019 cited that the average age for puberty is roughly 13.2 years, however this can vary from age 8-14, depending on the child.*

“Hormonal changes like puberty can trigger extra oil production, which can lead to breakouts,” says Maree Glading, founder of Evre, which was born out of an awareness of the social consciousness of Gen Z, aiming to satisfy the needs of both people and planet with its range of 100 per cent natural skincare.

READ: Everything You Need To Know About Acne

“Some people have temporary acne, and some need help from a dermatologist to cope with it. Having a good skincare routine can really help avoid, or at least lessen the severity or frequency of it,” Maree adds.

The best products to care for young skin are gentle and balancing (not at all harsh like products targeted to acneic skin can be), she says.

Anything too-rich is also a no-no for tweens and teens, instead, hero products include gentle cleansers and lightweight moisturisers, not to mention a daily dose of SPF.

It’s important to acknowledge the needs of tween and teen skin differs greatly, as tween skin is often made up of two quite different skin types — the sensitive, baby-soft skin that hasn’t quite matured yet, in combination with oily skin.

How to broach the subject

According to Maree, people as young as 10 may start witnessing changes in their skin  adding weight to the argument that establishing good skincare practices from an early age is a good idea.

If your tween or teen isn't interested in skincare routines at first, invite them to be part of the process.

“There are some teens who are amazing at routine and there are teens who need to be reminded,” says Louise Harvey, founder of gender-neutral, fuss-free skincare brand Holy Moly. “Work with your teen to educate and encourage them to get into a good routine."

You want them to choose products they’ll actually use, and that requires a level of trial and error as they learn to love the texture of a product and the residue it may leave on skin.

In the same way that we hammer home the point of brushing teeth from a very young age to prevent disease, teaching your tween or teen to look after their skin early sets them up to form good skincare habits for life.

Routine for Tweens

Now is not the time for a multi-step, multi-product routine. Rather, building a skincare routine for tweens is about caring for skin and preventing things like acne and scarring, along with long-term defense against skin cancer and ageing (yes, this young!).

A gentle cleanser, an oil-free or non-comedogenic moisturiser and a broad-spectrum physical or chemical SPF50 sunscreen are a good start.

“A good skincare routine needs to be easy and it needs to be enjoyable,” Maree says.

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser, $23. Photo / Supplied

Encourage your tween to apply their SPF50 sunscreen in the morning, before using a cleanser and an oil-free moisturiser in the evening. The right cleanser for tween skin should clean the face without leaving skin feeling stripped, dry or tight afterwards. Try CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser, $23.

“Moisturising your face after cleansing helps protect the skin’s barrier and keeps its pH balanced. When you have pimples, it is important to still moisturise as skin will overcompensate for being dry by creating more sebum which can clog pores,” Maree says.

Evre Super Nice Manuka Honey & Vitamin E Face Moisturiser, $32. Photo / Supplied

Try Evre Super Nice Manuka Honey & Vitamin E Face Moisturiser, $32, which contains a cocktail of ingredients with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, namely active 10+ UMF Manuka honey to aid healthy skin regeneration and restore glow.

Especially important given Aotearoa’s staggering rates of skin cancer, sunscreen is the year-round essential to top off any skincare routine. Try Cetaphil UVA/UVB Defence SPF50+ Daily Facial Moisturiser, $28.

Cetaphil UVA/UVB Defence SPF50+ Daily Facial Moisturiser, $28. Photo / Supplied

Routine for Teens

The basic cleanse-moisturise-SPF routine also applies here, however older teens may benefit from a few added extras for stubborn breakouts, or to help remove makeup if and when they begin using it.

One such extra is a secondary (or double) cleanse, which Maree says should be performed at night when there is extra dirt on skin. “The idea is that the first cleansing step removes makeup or the day’s grime and the second step deeply cleanses so there’s no bacteria stuck in your pores,” she says.

If your teen is the sporty type, our experts agree it's best to have them cleanse their skin after training to remove any sweat or bacteria which can cause breakouts, irritation or dehydration.

Used sparingly, spot treatments can help halt breakouts in their tracks, but don’t overdo it. “You need to be careful with some spot treatments as they can be very aggravating and can make the situation worse,” Maree says.

Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, $27. Photo / Supplied

Consider Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, $27, the beauty editor-approved spot treatment that dries spots up while you slumber.

Face masks are another nice-to-have, and can be used once-weekly for a hit of hydration or to detoxify a congested complexion.

Louise loves the Holy Moly Skincare Pink Clay Face Mask, $30. “It is great for teens to clear and brighten skin, and adults can use it to help with fine lines,” she says.

Holy Moly Skincare Pink Clay Face Mask, $30. Photo / Supplied

What Real Teens Use 

Four teens spill the tea on which brands speak their language, and how they incorporate key products into their daily routines

AIMEE, 16

I get most of my beauty advice from... social media, mostly YouTube, because it’s free and accessible.

A brand that aligns with my values is... Morphe for makeup because they are sustainable, cruelty-free, affordable and they really think about the users of the products and their artistry.

For skincare, the brand that aligns with my values the most is The Ordinary. The reason I love them is because they put lots of care and thought into the ingredients and formulas of their products. Teenagers are prone to acne so it’s important that the products don’t have lots of irritants such as fragrances. They are a super accessible brand because their products are affordable. As a teenager, affordability is really important when it comes to skincare/beauty products because I don’t have a lot of income yet. I want to make sure that the products are worth the money I'm spending.

My current skincare routine... is fairly simple. In the morning, I use Garnier Micellar Water and then either the Nivea Protecting Day Cream or Cerave AM Facial Moisturising Lotion. Both of them are sunscreens with SPF30. At night, I start with Garnier Micellar Water for an initial cleanse. Then I use the Simple Micellar Facial Gel Wash so that I’ve double cleansed. I use this cleanser because it is super gentle and formulated for dry skin which is the skin type I have. Then I use The Ordinary 10% Niacinamide & 1% Zinc Serum and finally I use the Nivea Regenerating Night Cream because it is super moisturising which is good for my dry skin.

JAIME, 16

I get most of my beauty advice from... YouTube videos and other females around me.

A brand that aligns with my values is... Too Faced.

My current skincare routine... isn’t the best but I wash my face morning and night and in the morning after cleaning my face I will apply concealer, mascara and some highlighter.

JADE, 16

I get most of my beauty advice from... my older cousins and through social media. Us as teenagers are always on our phones looking through posts and advertisements.

A brand that aligns with my values is... Philosophy, this brand offers a range of paraben-free, all-natural products. It is also very affordable and helps reduce acne which is most commonly seen through teenagers.

My current skincare routine... is quite short and simple. In the mornings, I start my day by giving my face a wash with the Philosophy One Step Facial Cleanser, I then make sure to hydrate my face with the philosophy simple ultra-light moisturiser. I then repeat this at night to keep my face clean and refreshed for night and day.

HOLLY, 15

I get most of my beauty advice from... podcasts, blogs and recommended tutorials.

My current skincare routine... starts off with a foam face wash from nutrimetics, then mattifying face mist, oil control moisturizing lotion and lastly I use a spot correcting gel.

STOCKISTS: CeraVe from Chemist Warehouse or online at Chemistwarehouse.co.nz; Cetaphil from selected pharmacies and supermarkets or online at Cetaphil.co.nz; Evreselfcare.com; Holymolyskincare.com; Mario Badescu from Mecca or online at Meccabeauty.co.nz.

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