How to Effectively Clear Teen Acne

November 04, 2020
How to clear teen acne

During puberty the teenage body increases production of sex hormones, like testosterone, which can result in acne. The rise in testosterone stimulates the oil glands to produce more oil and sebum. Acne is an inflammatory disorder which is caused by many factors, not just one. It involves a buildup of dead skin cells around the follicular opening, an increase in oil production, and an overgrowth of bacteria. All of this leads to a certain degree of inflammation. The kind of acne you have or the severity of acne that your body produces largely depends on genetics, your overall health, and your predisposition for inflammation.  

It’s important to note that there are different types of acne. Whiteheads are clogged, closed pores, and blackheads are clogged, open pores that have oxidized (making the keratin appear “black”). Papules are small, raised bumps that can be tender - fundamentally they are also comedones but have become inflamed. Pustules are larger and identified by a raised white bump surrounded by reddened skin. Cysts form deeper in the skin and appear as large red or white lumps filled with purulent material or can be “empty” and just thick inflammatory tissue. Sometimes, you can’t squeeze “stuff” out of your pimples because they are just inflammation. Nodules are also a deeper form of acne but are more firm than cystic acne and are painful.

Effective Acne-Fighting Ingredients for Teens 

Mild and non-inflammatory acne can be treated with over-the-counter active ingredients such Benzoyl Peroxide, Glycolic Acid, and non-prescription retinols. It is important to consult a board-certified dermatologist for more severe acne cases such as cysts, acne scarring, or if acne persists after trying at-home treatments. Hormonal acne can be treated with oral medication such as OCP's (oral contraceptive pill) and spironolactone. Severe nodulocystic acne is successfully treated with Isotretinoin (Accutane).

Benzoyl Peroxide 

  • Benzoyl peroxide treats acne by eliminating bacteria trapped in the pores. It can be used on all types of acne and does not require a prescription.
  • Benzoyl peroxide’s antibacterial properties reduce inflammation and chemically exfoliates the skin.
  • The percentage of benzoyl peroxide in over-the-counter topicals varies from 2.5% - 10%. The various percentages available are all effective at fighting acne, but the higher percentages run the risk of drying or irritating the skin if used as a leave-on treatment.
  • For cleansing the face, Dr.  Zenovia's 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Cleanser deeply penetrates the skin to remove buildup from clogged pores and eradicate blemishes. As a wash-off treatment, it is infused with a powerful, yet gentle dose of ultra-micronized 10% Benzoyl Peroxide to eliminate any possible irritation.
  • For a spot treatment, Dr. Zenovia's 5% Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Spot Treatment is a clinical-grade hormonal acne solution that targets flare-ups whenever they strike while helping to reduce any redness or irritation. This spot treatment is formulated with medical-grade Bakuchiol and Aloe Vera to help soothe acne-prone, sensitive skin. In addition, as with all Dr. Zenovia products, there is a proprietary molecule of phytoestrogen, called REG-ulate360 Complex™ that supports the tissue safely from a hormonal aspect and decreases the androgen concentration at the skin level which can cause hormonal acne.
  • Benzoyl Peroxide is highly effective at helping to get rid of dead skin cells and excess oil. Such effects may lead to skin dryness and peeling. Dr. Zenovia therefore recommends gradually introducing this ingredient into your routine and building up the frequency of usage over time. If excessive dryness or irritation occurs, reduce application.

Glycolic Acid 

  • Glycolic Acid is a powerful alpha hydroxy acid that serves as a chemical exfoliator, helping to remove dead skin cells and prevent the pores from clogging.
  • Dr. Zenovia’s 10% Glycolic Acne Control Peel Pads contain a powerful combination of Glycolic and Salicylic Acids to effectively target acne and post-acne scars by promoting the skin’s cellular renewal process and unclogging pores.


  • Retinol increases cellular turnover for an even tone and skin texture. Using a retinol is scientifically proven to prevent clogged pores - both blackheads and whiteheads while controlling oil.
  • Dr. Zenovia’s clinically-formulated Advanced Retinol Night Repair Treatment works overnight to support the skin’s natural cellular repair process and helps reduce the appearance of acne and acne scarring by supporting healthy skin cell turnover and improving the skin’s tone overnight. In addition, as with all Dr. Zenovia products, there is a proprietary molecule of phytoestrogen, called REG-ulate360 Complex™, which supports the tissue safely from a hormonal aspect and decreases the androgen concentration at the skin level.

Aloe Vera

  • Aloe vera contains vitamins and antioxidants to soothe and protect the skin against free radicals.
  • A gentle oil-free moisturizer is essential for skin hydration. Dr. Zenovia’s Aloe Vera Blemish Soothing Moisturizer features skin-soothing Squalane, an Antioxidant Blend, and medical-grade Aloe Vera to soothe sensitive, acne-prone skin.

Note from Dr. Zenovia: It's important to gradually introduce ingredients like Benzoyl Peroxide, Glycolic Acid, Salicylic Acid, and Retinol into your skincare regimen. If excessive dryness or irritation occurs, reduce application.               

All of Dr. Zenovia's products are made with a powerful combination of antioxidants and her proprietary REG-ulate360 Complex™ to protect and soothe hormonally imbalanced, sensitive skin. Traditional acne topical therapy is very drying and can lead to even more irritation. However, adult and/or hormonal acne can’t tolerate excessive drying with traditional regimens. Dr. Zenovia Skincare is not only effective against the known key factors causing acne. The additional mindful ingredients, like powerful antioxidants, emollients, and the REG-ulate360 Complex™, make the Clear Complexion Collection unique, holistic, non-drying, and very effective against acne.

Additionally, as these ingredients can increase sensitivity to the sun, be sure to follow with SPF during the day. Dr. Zenovia's Vitamin C Brightening Moisturizer SPF 30 provides the benefits of a brightening moisturizer and contains transparent nano zinc-oxide broad-spectrum mineral protection from harmful UVA/UVB rays.

Effective Teen Acne Clearing Skincare Routine

The first step in treating and preventing acne in your teens is to establish a skincare routine. Your regimen should include cleansing twice daily, using a spot treatment, incorporating acne-fighting actives, and hydrating the skin with a moisturizer. Using an SPF during the daytime is imperative as well. If the skin receives proper nourishment and stays bacteria-free, acne is less likely to occur. An example of a good skincare routine for acne is as follows:

Morning Skincare Routine

  1. Cleanser
  2. Spot Treatment
  3. Moisturizer
  4. SPF

Nighttime Skincare Routine 

  1. Cleanser
  2. Glycolic Acid Peel Pads (3x per week)
  3. Retinol
  4. Moisturizer

Dr. Zenovia recommends introducing new active ingredients such as Benzoyl Peroxide, Glycolic Acid, and Retinol gradually into your skincare routine to avoid irritation. If irritation occurs, decrease the frequency of product usage.

Treating Teen Acne: Preventative Tips 

In addition to the foundation of a skincare routine, it is important to make some lifestyle changes to encourage clear skin. Small changes can make a big impact!

Acne Prevention

  • Avoid harsh, abrasive products that can lead to irritation and micro-tears
  • Wash pillowcases often (1x a week at least)
  • Shower after physical activity and excessive sweating
  • Pat the skin dry after washing- do not rub!
  • If wearing makeup, choose non-comedogenic products
  • Avoid trendy skincare with ineffective ingredients and excess fragrances
  • Introduce products slowly
  • Don’t pop pimples- this leads to scarring!
  • See a board-certified dermatologist if you have scarring acne or indentations. Topical skincare alone will not help scarring!

Acne in your teens is completely normal and treatable if the cause is identified and treatment is tailored to your skin type.

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