How Do Hormones Affect the Skin in Your Teenage Years?


Updated July 6, 2014. A prepubescent skin (age 9-12) is the skin we all would like to have – smooth, invisible pores and simply flawless. For the most part, prior to the teenage years, hormones are not influencing the skin but come age 13 and beyond, this can be a different story.

From ages 13-19, hormones can really start to do funny things to a teenager’s skin. The hormone fluctuations alone can aggravate the skin and cause blemishes and breakouts. Estrogen, a natural anti-inflammatory hormone generally will keep things calm, but around the time of a young girl’s period, the drop in estrogen can cause the skin to flare up resulting in “monthly breakouts”. Testosterone and other androgens increase oil production and the tendency towards clogged pores can be increased. Those with sticky sebum (oil) or weak follicular walls will experience more severe breakouts (a genetic trait), including stubborn cystic acne because the oil gland is located in a hair follicle with a narrow opening. This weak pore lining causes bacteria to leak out into the surrounding areas. (This is why squeezing at your blemishes once they first appear is a very bad idea.) Your immune system perceives this as an infection and fights it by causing inflammation leading to a red, noticeable blemish…

Here are some helpful tips to manage the side effects of hormonal fluctuations that lead to skin breakouts.

Wash with a gentle, anti-bacterial cleanser morning and night. It’s extremely helpful to introduce glycolic and salicylic acid to keep your pores clear, as well as using a mild facial scrub with perfectly round beads so as not to scratch the skin and spread bacteria. A perfect cleansing and exfoliating skin care product is AHA/BHA Cleansing Gel which utilizes both of these acne-fighting acids. There’s a reason why it was awarded “Best Cleanser for Oily Problem Skin” by Allure Magazine. Washing with this both morning and evening will help to control stubborn breakouts without irritating young and sensitive complexions.

Use an alcohol-free toner to keep skin cells hydrated. After cleansing, I always suggest a teenager to wipe the skin with an alcohol-free toner to remove excess cleanser residue and impurities from tap water, as well as to give instant hydration and purifying the pores. Balancing Skin Tonic is ideal for a young, sensitive teenager’s skin as it hydrates the skin and discourages breakouts, without causing irritation. See our collection of alcohol-free toners.

Wear sunscreen moisturizers or powders during the day to prevent skin damage from UV rays.
 A teenager has two options for protecting their skin from sun and UV exposure: wear a sunscreen moisturizer formulated for acne-prone skin like Daily Protection SPF 30, or dust on a mineral-based sunscreen powder like ColoreScience SPF 50 Mineral Powder over an oil-free moisturizer. Either option is vital for young skin to stay looking young, as well as preventing skin cancer. I always suggest to my teenage clients who participate in outdoor sports to keep a ColoreScience Mineral Powder brush in their bag so they can re-apply after school when they are on the field for practice and games. It makes it really easy to keep the skin protected from the damaging sun. Note: Keeping UV light off of acne scars will encourage the healing process.

Use an oil-free moisturizer at night. Hydration is key to keeping young skin in a healthy balance but adding oil is not always the best choice for teens. A lightweight, soothing, oil-free lotion like Matte Moisture will provide the perfect amount of hydration without clogging the pores. This can be worn during the day in place of sunscreen if, and only if, they apply the mineral powder generously to the skin.

Perform weekly mask treatments.
 Using a deep pore cleansing and disinfecting mask like Detoxifying Mask once a week gives the skin additional acne-reducing benefit. If breakouts are not as much of an issue, then a soothing gel mask like Bio Calm Repair Masque will be a great choice for delicate skin types.

Schedule monthly deep pore cleansing facials.
 When it comes to clogged pores and breakouts, skin care products can only do so much. It’s really important that teenagers get regular deep pore cleansing facials to manage the clogged pores with professional extractions. Facials can also help offer much needed exfoliation to help prevent new breakouts, but also to help fade the acne scars from previous ones. Teenagers are not as diligent about their home care routine (especially boys) so professional skin treatments will give their skin the attention it needs to keep it looking its best. Schedule a deep pore cleansing facial at Renée Rouleau Skin Care Spas.

Limit dairy in your diet if you’re prone to cystic breakouts. Since most dairy cows are given growth hormones, the consumption of milk, cheese and yogurt become factors that influence endogenous hormones and mimic the hormones that trigger oil production in the skin to ignite the acne process. Consider eliminating all dairy for two weeks to determine if this is the cause of your cystic breakout activity.

Choose acne spot treatments for the type of breakouts you get. All breakouts are not equal and all over-the-counter acne spot treatments are certainly not either. For example, if a teenager experiences cystic acne (those hard, sore “underground” blemishes) applying a surface drying spot treatment will only leave the surface of the skin dry and not get deep within the skin to effectively treat the cystic infection. In this case, Anti-Cyst Treatment is a far more effective choice for reducing painful acne cysts. See the full collection of acne spot treatments to address all types and stages of blemishes.

Consider birth control pills. Birth control pills can have a positive effect on breakouts for many young girls, so it’s sometimes worth considering if you believe your breakouts to be hormonal. Since there are fluctuations in androgen hormone levels right before and during one’s period that can stimulate sebaceous glands to produce excess oil leading to breakouts, the pill may help due to their affect on natural hormonal balance. Consult with a doctor to experiment with different types of birth control pills if you want to go this route. Many of my clients have found that going on the the pill or simply making a change in the one they are currently on can reduce acne and occasional hormonal breakouts. Some examples of FDA-approved birth control pills that seem to lessen breakouts include Ortho Tri Cyclen, Yaz, and Estrostep, but your doctor can help to determine the best course of action.

Read: Are You Guilty of Picking at Your Skin? Here’s help!

Not all teenagers will experience acne since it’s largely due to genetics, so do consider yourself lucky if you make it out of your teenager years pimple-free. But that doesn’t mean you won’t experience breakouts later on in your adult years since hormones, diet and lifestyle can all play a part in how your skin behaves.

Read: How to Get Rid of Back Acne

Read how hormones affect the skin in the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s.

Which skin care products are best for you? See our nine skin types or take our Skin Type Quiz and get products recommended.

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