13 best skincare products for teens that combat excess oil, blemishes and redness
These go-tos focus on prevention and protection without the use of harsh chemicals
First off, teenage skin is beautiful. Whether you’re blessed with perfect, porcelain textures or you’re as spotty as can be, you look marvellous.
We’re saying this because we spent too many of our teenage years worrying about what we looked like when, in fact, being kind to others and, more importantly, yourself is the best weapon you can wield.
In the immortal words of RuPaul’s Drag Race behemoth Bianca Del Rio: “Beauty fades, but dumb is forever”. Our teenhoods were dominated with the idea that being nice is uncool and being aggressive gets you ahead. While sadly there is some truth that being a loud-mouth gets you noticed, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re listened to or are being well-received. Apply this metaphor to skincare for teenagers. The marketing screams about sebum and spots like they’re going out of style. Products are chocked full of corrosive alcohols and silicones for quick astringent fixes and blurring blemish solutions, promising to transform you into a walking Facetune filter.
Those hardy chemicals and stuffed pores will indeed give you a temporary flourish, leaving tight and cantankerously clean skin feeling very satisfactory indeed. However, youthful skin generally doesn't need to be attacked with so many harsh ingredients so we urge you to take a breather with a more leisurely stroll rather than a quick sprint. Save that for when you’re older and falling apart.
Acclaimed facialist Kate Kerr puts it very well, saying: “During our teenage years, our skincare regime should focus on prevention and protection. The skin will be functioning beautifully and our regime should predominantly focus on oil control and protection against UV and HEV light with the use of a good SPF.”
The excess oil that can be produced from hormonal mayhem tends to be your main culprit of potential acne and bad behaviour. So our roundup focuses on preventing this from getting out of hand with a curation of cleansers to suit all skin types and a couple of secret weapons if you have unwanted visitors that need shooing respectfully out the door.
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Indie Lee purifying face wash, 125ml: £32, Naturismo
Indie Lee’s line has gems galore but this cleanser, in particular, is a joy for teen skin. It’s full of citrus goodness – like orange and lavender – to dissolve excess sebum while clove, burdock and mandarin give you a brightening lift.
It’s a liquid formulation which is really good if you prefer whipping up a generous lather while all the gorgeous natural ingredients contribute to a calmer complexion. This really helped get more unruly blemishes under control, with continued use leaving the face restful, refreshed and ready for further instructions.
We definitely cheerlead this for its lack of synthetic chemicals too, so you can go forth fear-free knowing that you’re not going to clog pores further with any unfavourable surprises. To reiterate, it’s good to feed teen skin with all the goodness it already inhabits and this is a terrific first step towards that.
Milk Makeup matcha cleanser, 28ml: £22, Cult Beauty
It’s hard to remember our shelves without Milk Makeup these days. A few of its products have already become our go-tos only months after arriving on UK soil. The brand's clever sticks are lined up in our bathroom and this matcha cleansing offering is an awesome multitasking treat.
The matcha and lavender are great for tackling inflammation with exfoliating properties to scrape off any stubborn skin cells. It works like a roll on, so just swipe on dampened skin then massage as you normally would. It’s not a huge latherer so is quite nice if you want a rather simple affair and don’t wear make-up.
It’s a surprisingly emollient texture and doesn’t dry out the skin thanks to the inclusion of glycerin. It will keep you clean and fresh without feeling sticky with just enough detoxifying agents to keep skin from misbehaving. This is a great daily cleanser for young folks without huge skin concerns as it’s soap free and not full to the brim with crazy promises. It’ll keep skin in check without throwing a wobbly.
Dr. Roebuck’s kibosh weightless foaming cleanser, 100ml: £20, Space NK
For something that packs a bit more punch but equally won’t strip your skin of all its natural goodness, this foaming cleanser from Dr. Roebuck’s is a fab choice.
The texture is perfect for sensitive or stressed skin as it doesn’t drag on or need too much work to get going. The Tazmanian pepper is glorious and can soothe, calm and address redness while Australian wattleseed is also a terrific partner in the inflammation department.
It’ll get you super-clean while encouraging hydration in all the right places. There’s a plethora of unique ingredients in here which have been carefully formulated specifically for oil-prone skin. We found it was a joy to use and had no drying sensation whatsoever.
Perfect for blemish prone or overly oily skin that needs some extra comfort when cleansing rather than a maniacal overhaul.
Glossier mega greens galaxy pack, 89ml: £18, Glossier
A good clay mask should be a part of anyone’s kit from 13 to...well, there’s no age limit. This green beast from Glossier is packed with white clay, which is the mildest form of kaolin so isn’t going to ravage your youthful good looks. It’ll give those pores a spring clean, while aloe and avocado oil work on nourishing and soothing.
There’s a tingle when you slap it on but it’s not overpowering. It dries down to a thinner layer with a satisfyingly tightening sensation. Uniquely, for a clay mask, this feels very moisturising when you wash it off, leaving the skin squeaky clean but not desert dry.
There’s nibbles of parsley and spinach in here which seem to do just as much on your face as they do in your tum. We got to grips with this twice a week for a good clear out. Use this with a milder cleanser prior so you’re not too parched. On the other days, if you’re seeing excess oil return, step up the cleanser to something a little more powerful and add this for a third time in the week.
Oy! clear skin cleansing moisturiser, 50ml: £11.50, Green People
The aptly titled Green People not only strive to create affordable, organic skincare, it also created Oy! which is a range specifically targeted at young skin. The founder Charlotte Vohtz started the brand, after trying to discover something to help with her daughter’s skin issues. Sadly, we weren’t as spoilt back in the Nineties and so she went on to champion change in the industry with its manifesto.
The brand stringently avoids a list of ingredients that it believes aren’t necessary to include, such as bad alcohols and synthetic fragrances.
This moisturiser is our pick from the Oy! selection with its non-greasy and non-comedogenic formula. It has a welcoming citrus scent with a light and fast absorbing texture. Willow bark is here to kill bacteria while green tea is a good anti-inflammatory. There’s also a sprinkle of prebiotics in here to help bring balance to the skin.
There are a few ingredients in here on the richer side – such as shea butter and rosehip oil – and therefore would be a formidable option for drier skin types too.
Goldfaden MD vital boost even skintone daily moisturiser, 50ml: £60, Space NK
Goldfaden MD is another brand who prides itself on using organic and natural ingredients to form a fuss-free and results driven line. Vital boost is its cult moisturiser which has grapefruit oil to help cleanse and even out skin tone while gooseberry extract is a big vitamin-C asset to the formula. There’s our favourite hyaluronic acid in here to add a bit of hydration too.
There’s no greasy residue which is, of course, welcomed but what we liked about this most was that it gave a semi-matte finish. It adds a subtle dewy tint to the overall appearance.
This is a lush moisturiser with just the right amount of all the good stuff. Antioxidants work in your favour gradually over time, to fend off stresses from the outside world and keep you in check.
Farsali unicorn essence, 10ml: £20, Cult Beauty
Farsali unicorn essence is a hybrid elixir that works beautifully as a primer, while serving a delicious drink of skincare goodness at the same time.
Founder Sal Ali felt there was a gap in the market after seeing his wife’s mayhem at her vanity desk. Farsali was born with the will for products to bridge the gap between make-up and skincare. It’s full to the brim with antioxidant-rich super-fruits that work on protecting the skin from the elements. Acai, blueberry, goji and elderberry are high in vitamin C so with continued use, your skin should certainly look brighter, lifting acne scars over time.
Vitamin C is a gold-standard ingredient and a great option for skin-conscious teens. Think about it. We squeeze lemon over avocado to slow down the ripening process. Not that we’re equating your face to an avocado, but the analogy stands firm. Keep the spirits up on the surface and you’ll fend off unwanted goblins rising from beneath.
We tried the renowned technique of applying highlighter to the serum when still slightly tacky. Unicorns would be crying at the result, we assure you.
Dermalogica clearing fizz mask, 50ml: £19.50, Feel Unique
Sometimes you do just need to pull out the big guns. If you’re at a last resort and want a mega quick fix for blackheads, this is where to come.
Dermalogica’s clear start range is geared towards younger, blemish-prone skin and this fizzy, targeted mask literally dissolves impurities on the skin’s surface. Sulphur takes charge here and will drill down where other exfoliators can’t reach. Spread a thin layer on your T-zone and leave for a few minutes max. You’ll experience a slight tingling sensation while the concoction bubbles. Simply wipe off when your timer goes off.
It opens pores and sweeps out gunk allowing for a much less agonising extraction. If you play by the fizzy rules with this one, and give yourself some TLC post application, you might just have found your new bestie in the blackhead fight.
Votary blemish rescue oil, 15ml: £35, Liberty
Even if you’ve finally got yourself to a place you’re happy with, you might occasionally find an unwanted visitor from time to time. You don’t want to upset the rest of your face you’ve worked really hard to get under control. So sometimes you want a little tactical help.
It’s a myth that blemishes disappear by drying them out as that just makes them angrier. Instead we found this mighty mini from Votary. Salicylic acid is the perfect accompaniment to dissolve dead skin cells and exfoliate the top layer of skin. The blend acts as a comfort blanket while tamanu oil works on healing acne scars over time.
This leaves skin feeling healed and soft when using twice a day after cleansing. Blemishes were reduced considerably. Make sure you use sparingly as less is more with this one.
SVR sebiaclear daily sunscreen SPF50, 50ml: £17, Look Fantastic
You are never too young for sunscreen. Sun damage is the biggest culprit for ageing and the main contributor towards damaging your future skin. So to keep that youthful complexion in your proverbial pocket, this one from SVR is a great place to start.
It’s infused with niacinamide which is the porefecting wonder ingredient for tightening pores and brightening, while gluconolactone is a PHA which is a much gentler acid in the family to provide some exfoliation even for sensitive skin. While some sunscreens can be greasy, this one helps keep you shine-free with a supportive mattifying formula. It’s lightweight and non-disruptive.
Disciple good skin face oil, 20ml: £23, Cult Beauty
Yes it’s oil! No, don’t panic! Disciple prides itself on giving a leg up to struggling skin types. Founded by psychotherapist Charlotte Ferguson, she’s a whizz at marrying both skin and soul.
Let’s break this one down. The turmeric oil helps heal and calm redness. Geranium helps calm hormones naturally while bad bacteria fighting prebiotics on the backburner help clarify. It’s a natural, clean and potent brightening beauty.
Just four or five drops used at nighttime on the face is enough, or simply add it to your moisturiser for a boost. We gave this to someone who was suffering from a small burst of eczema at the time and we’re proud to say it aided towards a speedier recovery. It’s a unique blend that you can tell has been made with love.
eos crystal lip balm sphere in melon blossom, 7g: £7, Boots
Don’t forget your pout. Now winter’s coming, if you’re going to put all your efforts into getting your skin balanced, crusty lips aren’t going to cut it.
These egg shaped eos numbers twist to reveal a bauble of lip softening goodness. What’s nice about this melon one, in particular, is that it hydrates without feeling too heavy on the lips. It’s a mixture of castor, avocado and coconut oils which leaves lips feeling matte but sufficiently soft.
A perky choice for those that don’t like slathering their lips in sugary, rich creams – providing a bit of a relief from an outside onslaught. Weightless and wax-free, you’ll probably collect so many you’ll get them confused for Pokémon.
Pur skin perfecting powder balancing act, 8ml: £22, Pur Cosmetics
The instinctive thing to do – when skin plays up – is to cover it with a multitude of products so you can’t see anything underneath. Truth be told, suffocating your face daily doesn’t, literally, give it time to catch its breath. As a compromise, Pur’s skin balancing powder might be a nice crossroads to inspire a bit of confidence without a full mask of make-up.
There’s no traditional coverage in here, but there’s a significant lack of drying agents that are usually found in mattifying powders. In Pur’s we have green tea leaf extract – great for anti-redness – and lactic acid for a clearing boost.
This is a quick fix to keep in your bag to whip out when you need it most. It doesn’t dry skin like generic powders and does oil control differently via a more caring and thoughtful formulation.
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