Appearance is of critical importance to teenagers. And a bad complexion won’t cut it in our camera-ready world. You can help your child put his best face forward—and keep his skin healthy.


“Acne can cause more than blemishes,” according to the American Academy of Dermatology; it also can lead to low self-esteem, depression, lingering dark spots on the skin, and permanent scars.

But adolescence and acne don't have to be synonymous anymore. There are many available treatments that are far more effective than what we had when we were teens. And people are more tuned in to prevention, too. Here are tips from the American Academy of Dermatology:

  • Wash twice a day and after perspiring. Sweating, especially when wearing a hat or helmet, can make acne worse, so wash your skin as soon as possible afterward.
  • Use your fingertips to apply a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser. Washcloths, mesh sponges, and the like can irritate skin.
  • Be gentle with your skin. Do not use products that irritate your skin, which may include alcohol, astringents, toners, and exfoliants. Dry, red skin makes acne appear worse.
  • Scrubbing your skin can make acne worse. Avoid the temptation to scrub hard. And rinse with lukewarm water.
  • Shampoo regularly; if you have oily hair, shampoo daily.
  • Let your skin heal naturally. If you pick, pop, or squeeze acne, your skin will take longer to clear and you increase the risk of scarring.
  • Keep your hands off your face. Touching your skin throughout the day can cause flare-ups.
  • Consult a dermatologist if your child’s acne develops young (between 8 and 12 years old); makes him shy or embarrassed; if the products he’s tried haven’t worked; if there’s a family history of cystic acne; or if his acne is leaving scars or darkening his skin.
  • For more tips, visit


The sun isn’t always our friend. It damages skin and promotes premature aging. And prolonged exposure or blistering sunburns, particularly during the teen years, can contribute to the development of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Further, some acne medications and some other medications can make you more sensitive to sunlight and therefore more prone to burns. Everybody should use sunscreen (SPF 50 or higher) outdoors. Reapply it when you’re in the sun for long periods, sweating, and swimming.
Finally, using tanning beds increases the risk of developing melanoma by 75 percent. Don’t let your teen tan!


Boys with acne should shave lightly, carefully, and only when they have to. Your son might want to “test drive” different razors to see which is most comfortable and effective.


Encourage your daughter to use only oil-free foundations, blushes, and moisturizers. Consult an experienced sales consultant or a dermatologist about which products might be best for her skin type.


Read more on NJ Family about Teen Bodies & Brains