The teenage years come with a lot of excitement, but unfortunately for many, they also come with an introduction to acne. Acne can be stressful and take a toll on confidence, especially in teens. During these years, it is important to develop good skincare habits and start taking preventative steps.

Read on to learn about the causes of teen acne, as well as the best acne treatments for teens.

What Causes Teen Acne?

The main cause for acne in teens is the increase in hormones that comes with puberty:

  • During puberty, there is a rise in androgen levels
  • This hormonal increase triggers the sebaceous glands to overproduce sebum.
  • This sebum can mix with dead skin cells and other debris, which can end up clogging pores

All of which in turn can lead to acne (like blackheads, whiteheads, and cysts). Additionally, the increase in sebum leads to an overgrowth of propionibacterium acnes, a bacteria that causes acne.

How to Treat Teen Acne

During the teen years, it is essential to get into the habit of sticking to a skincare routine. It should become just as habitual as taking a shower and brushing your teeth.

An effective, daily skincare routine doesn’t just treat teen acne – it will prevent acne from forming in the first place.

Once you develop a well-rounded skincare routine that includes some of the best acne treatments for teens, you’ll be able to both treat and prevent breakouts.

What Is the Best Skincare Routine for Teens?

A teenage skincare routine needs to include three essential components: cleansing, exfoliating, and moisturizing.

  1. Cleansing - This step sweeps away any pore-clogging debris on the surface of the skin, helping to prevent acne from forming.
  2. Exfoliating - Exfoliation sloughs off dead skin cells, sebum, bacteria, and anything else stuck to the surface of the skin or deep in the pores. This step will help to treat current acne, as well as prevent future acne from forming.
  3. Moisturizing - A good moisturizer will add hydration to the skin, which is particularly important when you are using harsher products that can dry out the skin. While it may seem tempting to skip moisturizing when you have acne and oily skin, it is actually crucial for all skin types. When your skin is stripped of its natural oils, it responds by producing an excess of oil. This excess oil can further clog the pores, exacerbating the problem.

Best Acne Treatments for Teens

A skincare routine is only as good as the products. Here are some of the best acne treatments for teenagers on the market.

1. CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser (Preventing Acne)

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser (Blackheads and Pimples)

Best Acne Prevention Product for Teens With Oily Skin

This fragrance-free CeraVe cleanser effectively cleanses the skin, but doesn’t strip it of its natural oils. That means it can rid the skin of potentially pore-clogging debris without drying it out. As mentioned, this is key for fighting acne, since stripped skin overproduces pore-clogging sebum. It contains ceramides and hyaluronic acid, which help to provide a moisturizing cleanse. The cleanser also has niacinamide, which is anti-inflammatory and calms the skin.

How to Use: Wet your face with lukewarm water. Dispense about a dime-size amount of product onto your fingers. Use circular motions to gently massage the product into your face for about 30 seconds. Rinse off with lukewarm water, and gently pat dry with a towel. Use twice daily.

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2. Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser (Preventing Acne)

Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser (Blackheads and Pimples)

Best Acne Prevention Product for Teens With Dry & Sensitive Skin

This is another excellent cleanser option. Cetaphil is recommended by dermatologists, and this creamy cleanser is great for removing debris from the face. Like the CeraVe cleanser, it effectively cleanses without stripping the skin. This cleanser is fragrance-free, non-comedogenic, and hypoallergenic.

How to Use: Wet your face with lukewarm water. Dispense about a dime-size amount of product onto your fingers. Use circular motions to gently massage the product into your face for about 30 seconds. Rinse off with lukewarm water, and gently pat dry with a towel. Use twice daily.

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3. Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid (Blackheads and Pimples)

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid (Blackheads and Pimples)

Best Acne Treatment for Teens With Oily Skin

This is one of the most popular chemical exfoliating products available, and one of the best acne treatments for teens. It contains salicylic acid, which is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA). Salicylic acid is oil soluble and able to penetrate deep into the pores, where it breaks up any acne-causing clogs. While it is effective, this formula is still gentle on the skin. The lightweight texture absorbs quickly into the skin. This product is useful for both treating and preventing acne, so you can continue using it on a regular basis, even when acne isn’t present on the skin.

How to Use: This should be applied on clean, dry skin. Soak a cotton ball or round. Sweep the product across any area where acne is present, or any area where you are prone to acne. This product can be used all over the face. Do not wash off the product. Use once a day, but cut down use if dryness occurs.

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4. Acne.org 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide (Pimples)

Acne.org 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide (Pimples)

Best Over the Counter Acne Treatment for Teen

Benzoyl peroxide is one of the best over the counter treatment options available. It removes excess dirt and sebum from the pores and kills bacteria that causes acne. This product has a 2.5% formulation, and is pharmaceutical grade and triple milled, which means it can effectively penetrate the skin – making it one of the best acne treatments for teens. It is also fragrance-free, and has a gel formulation that is easy to spread on the skin. This isn’t a preventative product, but rather a treatment for active acne. Only apply this product when you are dealing with active acne.

How to Use: After cleansing, apply the product on any active acne. Do not rinse off. Apply once a day. You can use this on top of salicylic acid, although it may increase the risk of skin dryness. If you experience dryness, try cutting back your use to every other day.

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5. COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch (Pimples)

COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch (Pimples)

Best Acne Treatment for Teens With Sensitive Skin

These unique hydrocolloid pimple patches are one of the best acne treatments for teens. They adhere to the skin, breaking down and absorbing debris in the pores as you sleep in order to speed up the healing process. Each sheet comes with three different sizes of patches, so you’ll find one that perfectly covers your pimples. They are a great acne treatment for teens with sensitive skin, and shouldn’t dry out the treated areas. This should be used as a treatment, not a preventative step. Only apply on active acne.

How to Use: After cleansing, apply patches to any active acne on the skin. The patches should be applied to clean, dry skin. Don’t use them on top of any other products (like a BHA, benzoyl peroxide, or moisturizer). You can apply those products in any areas where you aren’t applying patches. Leave on overnight. Dispose each patch in the morning after use.

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6. The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% (Blackheads and Pimples)

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% (Blackheads and Pimples)

Best Acne Treatment for Teens With Pimples

Azelaic acid speeds up cell turnover rate, helping to even out the skin texture and brighten the skin. It also decreases skin inflammation and redness, which can be particularly useful for those with acne. This product has a high concentration of azelaic acid. It has a lightweight cream-gel formulation, and is safe and effective to use alongside salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide.

How to Use: After cleansing and applying other acne treatments, gently apply the formula all over the face. This can be used twice a day.

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7. CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion

CeraVe PM

Best for Restoring Moisture to The Skin

While it is tempting to skip out on a moisturizer when you have acne-prone and oily skin, this step is critical to restore moisture lost from using potentially drying products. This non-comedogenic face moisturizer is oil-free, non-comedogenic (meaning it won’t clog pores) and lightweight. It is formulated with niacinamide, which calms the skin, as well as ceramides and hyaluronic acid, which lock in hydration. The moisturizer is marketed towards nighttime use, but it can be used day and night.

How to Use: After cleansing and applying any acne treatments, dispense a pump into your fingers. Gently massage the product into your skin. Use twice a day.

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8. Curology (Stubborn Blackheads and Pimples)

Curology (Stubborn Blackheads and Pimples)

Best Acne Treatment for Teens With Severe Acne

If you find that you don’t have success with the above products, Curology could be a good choice for you. Curology uses prescription ingredients to create unique products that are customized to your skin needs. The customized treatment includes 3 active ingredients that will target your specific skin issues. Board-certified dermatologists prescribe these treatments, so you’ll get effective products at a reasonable price.

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FAQs

What products are best for teenage acne?

There are a few product options, but a good skincare regimen should center around cleansing, exfoliating, and moisturizing. To treat and prevent breakouts, the best acne treatments for teens include exfoliating products (like a BHA), spot treatments, gentle cleansers, and non-comedogenic moisturizers. It is best to introduce more active treatments (like BHAs, benzoyl peroxide, and pimple patches) one at a time to see how your skin reacts and avoid drying out the skin. Some products shouldn’t be used at the same time, so make sure you are alternating use when necessary.

How do you get rid of teenage acne?

Teens looking to get rid of acne should create a skincare routine that includes cleansing, exfoliating, and moisturizing. The key is to be consistent with the routine on a daily basis. It is also important to avoid drying out the skin. Skin that is stripped of its natural oils will only end up overproducing more oil to make up for the loss. This extra oil can clog the pores, exacerbating the problem.

What age does teenage acne go away?

Everybody is different, and everyone has a different experience with acne. For some, it may end in the late teens or early 20s. For others, acne can continue into adulthood. There is no certain age that acne goes away, so it is important to continue with a preventative skincare routine that works best for you. Since your skin’s needs can change over the years, the products you use may evolve.

Summary: Best Acne Treatments for Teens

The Bottom Line

Teen acne is typically caused by the increase in hormones that comes with puberty. Teens suffering from acne need to get in the habit of following a daily skincare routine to treat and prevent acne. This routine should include cleansing, exfoliating, and moisturizing. The best acne treatments for teens include gentle cleansers, BHA products, benzoyl peroxide products, azelaic acid products, and acne patches.