There’s nothing easy about being a teenager. The transition from childhood to adulthood has plenty of bumps in the road. As your teen struggles to find himself and his place in the world, the last thing he needs is an outbreak of teenage acne to add to his stress.
Unfortunately, teenage acne is extremely common. The American Academy of Dermatology estimates that about 85% of American teens will have acne, most likely triggered by hormonal changes during puberty. It’s not uncommon for hormonal acne to continue into young adulthood as well.
During the teen years, testosterone levels increase in both boys and girls, but especially in boys. This stimulates the production of excess sebum, an oil in the hair follicles of the skin. When the skin’s pores become clogged with excess oil and dead skin cells, bacteria can grow, laying the groundwork for acne breakouts. When the immune system reacts to the bacteria, it creates inflammation, producing pimples.1
Teens face all kinds of challenges as they mature, from awkward physical and emotional changes to shifting social circles and unrequited crushes. While you won’t be able to help with all of these problems, you can make life easier for your teen by offering some helpful tips on how to get rid of acne.
Conventional acne treatments are usually medicated, but here at Naturelo, we prefer to start with natural options. With the right skin care and nutrition, you can help get your teen’s hormonal acne under control naturally. Here are the best natural acne treatment strategies we have found.
Best Vitamins for Acne
Healthy, clear skin starts with getting the right nutrition. Research shows that people with acne are more likely to be deficient in essential vitamins and minerals. Specifically, acne has been linked with low levels of vitamin D,2 vitamin A, vitamin E, and zinc.3
Vitamin D is known for its immune-boosting benefits, which includes antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects for the skin. We get Vitamin D naturally from the sun, but as modern culture increasingly moves indoors, studies show that Vitamin D deficiency is becoming startlingly common.4
Vitamin A helps regulate the shedding of dead skin cells, promoting healthy new skin cell growth while preventing overshedding that can clog the pores.5 Many of the current prescription treatments for acne are actually retinols or retinoids, a synthetic derivative of Vitamin A.
Vitamin E is well known as one of the best vitamins for skin health in general. It has anti-inflammatory benefits and supports cell regeneration and healing. It has been shown to improve acne symptoms when combined with other nutrients, such as selenium6 and zinc.7
Zinc is one of the best-studied minerals for acne treatment. It has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects, helps regulate skin cell regeneration, and can even reduce excess sebum production. Plus, zinc plays a role in helping the body to metabolize and use vitamin A and vitamin E.8 It’s no wonder a number of studies have shown that zinc can help treat acne.9,10
If your teen is deficient in one of these nutrients, he may want to take them as single supplements at a higher dose to help bring his levels up. This is fine temporarily, but we don’t recommend taking high doses of these vitamins and minerals as a long-term strategy, since it is possible to overdose on them, especially if they are taken in a synthetic form.
A better long-term strategy is for your teen to take these vitamins and minerals all together in the form of a plant-based multivitamin designed specifically for teens, such as our Whole Food Multivitamin for Teens. It provides a healthy recommended amount of vitamins A, D, E, and zinc to supplement his diet, and is made with natural and bioactive nutrients that are easy for his body to absorb.
Natural Skin Care for Acne
Now that your teen is taking care of his skin from the inside, he needs to treat it right on the outside, too. A good skin care routine can help cleanse, soothe, and condition the skin to reduce acne breakouts. We recommend skin care treatments using simple, natural ingredients that won’t stress or overdry the skin.
The internet is full of suggestions for acne home remedies that use ingredients like yogurt, vinegar, honey, or garlic on the face. But we’re guessing your teen just wants something simple he can use everyday that won’t feel gross or smell like food. Here are some of our favorite suggestions for natural skin care products.
First, your teen should start with a good cleanser or acne face wash. Look for ingredients that gently exfoliate to remove dead skin cells and unclog pores, as well as ingredients that help detoxify the skin, such as antibacterial essential oils or oil-absorbing clay.
A great example is the Prep U Charcoal Face & Body Scrub designed for teen guys. It uses apricot kernels to exfoliate, and then detoxifies with bentonite clay and activated charcoal. Bentonite clay has absorbent properties to reduce excess oil, while activated charcoal draws out toxins and bacteria from the pores.
After cleansing, your teen can spot-treat pimples with an antibacterial essential oil. One of the most tried-and-true spot treatments for acne is tea tree oil, which is well known for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory benefits.11 Studies have shown that tea tree oil can improve acne symptoms.12 Essential oils are very concentrated, so be sure to use them in a diluted form.
Finally, if your teen wears makeup, encourage her to use natural, oil-free products that won’t clog pores or irritate the skin. Mineral makeup is a good option for acne-prone skin. Not only is it non-comedogenic, meaning it doesn’t sink into pores, but the minerals actually absorb oils on the face. Plus, it’s free of synthetic and chemical ingredients, making it good for sensitive skin.
Natural Acne Remedies for Your Teen
Natural acne remedies can be very effective, but it’s important for your teen to be consistent and patient, as it will take time to see results. The skin renews itself in 28-day cycles, and it may need to go through a few cycles before the newer, healthier skin emerges. But within 2-3 months, the benefits of good nutrition and skin care should start to show, so your teen can face his future with a fresher face.