Confused about teen skincare? We have the answers you need

Navigating the world of teenage skincare can be overwhelming, especially while you’re growing up. We’ll be decoding the secrets to maintaining healthy skin.

From understanding how teenage skin works to crafting the ultimate skincare routine, we’ve got you covered.

Understanding teenage skin

As your bodies change in puberty, so does your skin. The variations in hormones can mean a lot of change to your appearance, including finding that your skin is getting oilier. Some people also get acne while they’re going through puberty.

During puberty, there’s a rise in the hormone testosterone. Sebaceous glands (small organs in the skin that secrete oil) are very sensitive to the increase in testosterone, so they may start to make more oil than the skin needs. This oil is called sebum. Excess sebum and dead skin cells can clog your pores which can cause whiteheads and blackheads. With acne, bacteria which normally live on the skin harmlessly can contaminate and infect the blocked pores, causing red, swollen or pus-filled spots.

Different types of skin produce different amounts of sebum and understanding your skin can help you take care of it.

What’s my skin type?

There are different skin types which are determined by your genetics, but other factors can also affect it.

Sometimes, knowing the type of skin you have can be tricky but we’ve put together the common characteristics of each type.

• Sensitive skin may sting or burn after you apply products

• Normal skin is normally clear and isn’t sensitive

• Dry skin is normally rough, itchy or flaky

• Oily skin is normally shiny and greasy

• Combination skin is normally dry in some areas and oily in others

No matter the type of skin you have, a daily skincare routine can help. Sometimes, especially in your teenage years, your skin type can change and it might not fall into one category, but a simple skincare routine can be adapted to suit your skin and give it the care it needs.

Building the ultimate skincare routine

Ever wondered how to build the ultimate skincare routine? Well, here’s the secret – it’s all about keeping it simple. With just three key steps – cleansing, moisturising and sun protection, you can start your journey to healthy skin.

Starting with the basics is key. Let’s delve into each step for a skincare routine that’s as easy as 1-2-3.


The first step to any skincare routine is cleansing. This vital step removes impurities, dirt and excess oil from your skin, providing a fresh canvas for your skincare journey. Whether you prefer a gentle cleanser or one with other ingredients, for example tea tree oil if you have oily skin, cleansing is the foundation for a radiant complexion.


The next step is moisturising – the key to nourishing and hydrating. It’s important to choose a moisturiser that suits your skin type to replenish lost moisture and lock in hydration. This step ensures that your skin stays supple and helps to create a barrier against things like cold or dry air.

It’s a common misconception that if you have oily skin, you need to skip moisturising, but the key is to strike a balance between managing excess oil production and maintaining skin health. You can do this by cleansing and moisturising the skin. You can tailor your skincare routine with products designed for oily skin like oil-free moisturisers which can help control shine without compromising on hydration.

Dry skin might need some extra care to combat any roughness, itchiness and flakiness. You can choose moisturisers formulated for dry skin to provide nourishment and hydration. Picking hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid can help soothe dryness.

It’s also important to remember to drink plenty of water daily. Internal hydration can work alongside external skincare, helping to lock in that moisture.

Sun protection

Never skip the SPF! Sun protection is non-negotiable. Clare O’Connor, Boot’s Senior Research Skincare Scientist says, “Sun damage accumulates throughout our lifetime and as such, we should protect our skin throughout our lives. During our teenage years, skin is undergoing many changes and UV exposure can actually make things likes blemishes, dryness, red sensitive patches worse, so choose a light high SPF with high UVA star rating and use within your daily routine”.

It's important to shield your skin from harmful UV rays with a broad-spectrum sunscreen. This step not only prevents premature ageing but it also safeguards your skin’s health in the long run.

Dealing with spots

Having acne-prone skin doesn’t necessarily mean having acne. Acne is a long-term inflammatory skin condition whereas acne-prone skin is more prone to breakouts. If you’ve got mild or moderate acne, you can access treatment to bring it under control from Boots Online Doctor Acne Treatment service*.

If your acne is severe or if it’s making you feel very unhappy, speak to your GP and they can give you more advice.

Gentle care for delicate skin

Teen skin can be sensitive and if you have sensitive skin, it’s important to opt for skincare products that are made for sensitive skin. Look for labels that show that the products are fragrance-free, noncomedogenic and hypoallergenic. Noncomedogenic products are designed to not clog your pores and hypoallergic products are designed to have less allergy producing ingredients in them. It’s also important to make sure to patch test new products before applying them to your face.

Skincare simplicity

When it comes to skincare, simplicity is your best friend. Embracing a simple routine provides the care you need without overwhelming or damaging gentle skin. Teen skin benefits from gentle products with minimal ingredients and the emphasis should be on protecting your skin, rather than experimenting with active ingredients that are designed for mature skin.

Mature skin needs different products. It’s important to avoid popular adult skincare ingredients like retinol and harsh exfoliants in your routine. Unless you’ve been prescribed a retinoid for acne treatment, make sure to steer clear as potent ingredients can be harsh on young skin and can cause irritation.

Nourishing from the inside out

There are steps you can take to support your skin’s glow from the inside out.

• Eating a balanced diet can help to support skin health. Fruit and veg contain antioxidants that can help to protect your skin from cellular damage caused by free radicals

• Drinking plenty of water (the NHS recommends that people should aim to drink six to eight cups or glasses of water a day) to help you stay hydrated

• Exercising can help with an increased blood flow. This can not only nourish your skin cells, but can help with promoting your physical wellbeing

• Making sure to get your beauty sleep. While you’re asleep, your body repairs itself from the day (including your skin – the largest organ in your body). Getting enough good quality sleep can help to improve the appearance of your skin

• Trying to manage everyday stress can help improve the appearance of your skin. When you’re stressed, your body releases stress hormones like cortisol which can affect blood flow to the skin. Stress can also irritate your skin, so why not try some relaxation exercises to help?

Nurturing healthy habits: Advice for parents

As a parent, it’s natural to wonder how you can actively contribute to your teen’s skincare journey. Your role is important and there are simple ways you can provide support.

Open communication: The key ingredient

Establish an open line of communication with your teen. Encourage them to share their skincare concerns, preferences and questions. This not only builds trust but allows you to give them advice.

Lead by example: Show, don’t just tell

Use your own skincare routine to show your teens good habits. Whether it’s cleansing, moisturising or applying sunscreen, showing them this part of your routine can show them the importance of self-care. Actions speak louder than words and your healthy habits can help inspire theirs.

Encouraging self-love

Remind your teens that skincare is an extension of self-love. Remind them that taking care of their skin isn’t just about appearance, but it can contribute to their overall wellbeing. This can help them foster a healthy attitude to their skin.

Stay informed

It’s important to stay informed about skincare trends and what’s going on in the skincare world online. This can help you guide your teens and provide accurate advice. Knowing the skincare trends can help you to debunk any social media myths, too.

If you need more advice about a teen skin concern, speak to one of our Boots pharmacists for support.

Confused about skin? Well, not anymore! Here’s to understanding teen skincare and having happy healthy skin.

*Access to prescription-only treatment is subject to an online consultation with a clinician to assess suitability. Subject to availability. Charges apply.