Skin Through Your Ages II: The Teens

Skin in the Second Decade


Did you know that you’re never in the same skin twice in any given month? Whether it’s the weather, “that time” of the month, a nasty cold that is challenging your immune system, or the stress you’re under at work, your skin takes a beating and truly reflects what’s going on inside and outside your body. And these constant challenges can cause a myriad of changes like wrinkles, sagging, and dryness, which are never attractive qualities, if you’re trying to look the best you can be. In fact, cell turnover in the skin occurs on the average every 30 days, plus or minus, depending on your age. So literally, you are never in your same skin twice, at least every 30 days. But this rapid turnover of cells is also an opportunity to renew and rejuvenate your skin every month, like having a do-over, which is an incredibly golden opportunity. How often are we able to truly improve the health of an organ in our body every month, especially because it is so very accessible and open to improvement? You can literally change the quality and health of your skin every day of every month, with help of course. So let’s look at how skin changes over time. Let’s look at each decade in the life of your skin.

This installment is the second in my series “Skin Through Your Ages,” where we will focus on the second decade of life of your skin. 

Remember those glorious, youthful years, free of wrinkles, sagging, or bagging, where the only skin worry you had was that darned pimple that appeared on your chin the day before Prom?  Although the skin during the second decade is one that is in constant flux, continuously bombarded with hormones and emotional turmoil, it is also a time that is free of wrinkles or sagging or age spots. It is not yet showing any sign of wear or tear, or any hint of poor life choices like smoking, tanning, or drinking. Skin is still resilient and forgiving. However, it is also a time when bad choices like tanning booths will be remembered decades down the line. The skin really never forgets the abuse, no matter how subtle. Damage is unfortunately cumulative. Luckily, the skin does try to correct and repair itself each and every day. Plus, genetics can help, too.

The second decade of life is wrought with the fluctuating hormones of adolescence and the teenage years, and the skin is naturally a profound victim to them. Skin cell turnover is still going at a remarkable rate of 21-28 days, so the wrinkles stay at bay, but the same hormones that allow us to grow and mature into young men and women actually start to wreak havoc on the skin. Increased oil production, acne, stretch marks, and hair growth are the hallmarks of this time period. It seems that suddenly the soft, pretty skin of childhood is no longer. It is also a time when sports and physical activities, as well as delving into damaging habits like tanning booths and smoking affect the skin’s balance and health.

With the advent of soaring and fluctuating hormone levels comes acne. Acne can occur as early as seven or eight years of age. Because acne can become a significant problem, the first visit to the dermatologist often happens at this time as well. I often encounter parents delaying the first acne visit in hopes or belief that their child will simply grow out of it. As a dermatologist, I find the idea to be a strange and archaic concept, particularly in this 21st century of smart skin treatments and remarkable topical and oral medications. Remember that early intervention translates to less permanent scarring, healthier skin, and improved self-esteem. It is hard enough to traverse the stressful social terrain of preadolescence, adolescence, and the teenage years. Add pimples to the mix, and the self esteem can plummet, especially in this day of social media, selfies, and instant postings. These formative years are an opportune time to establish sound habits of good hygiene and regular skincare. Just like flossing and brushing one’s teeth, these lifelong benefits of healthy skin can begin and the long-term habits of great skincare reaped and maintained.

The skincare regimen for this second decade is simple as well, but it needs to be stepped up a bit. The second decade demonstrates a transition away from infancy and early childhood, so the skincare has to reflect this. Twice-a-day cleansing with a gentle cleanser geared toward oilier skin, a light moisturizer with SPF of 30-45 that doesn’t clog pores, and possibly some anti-acne medication for any pimple control if need be. Skin cleansers like Cetaphil DermaControl™ Oil-Control Foam Wash is gentle but thorough and is especially geared towards oilier skin. Its moisturizer partner Cetaphil DermaControl™ Moisturizer SPF 30 imparts hydration while wicking away extra oil throughout the day through Micropearl technology, which absorbs surface oil, helping to reduce shine and giving skin a matte finish. I often recommend this duo for my teenage patients. Aveeno’s Ultra-Calming® Foaming Cleanser is great for all skin types and positions well with anti-acne therapies which tend to dry the skin out. It also has a moisturizer partner Aveeno Ultra-Calming® Daily Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 15, which rebalances sensitive skin. Avene® Clean-AC Cleansing Cream is a wonderful “rebalancing cream wash for acne-prone skin… [It] removes impurities and debris without excessive drying.” It also “replenishes moisture and comforts skin that has been irritated by harsh acne treatments.” It has an effective partner Avene® Clean-Ac Hydrating Cream as well, which is ideal for use with anti-acne treatments and restores the skin barrier. Finally, Glycolix™ Elite Ultra Gentle Cleanser “effectively cleanses while delivering moisturizing and skin softening benefits.” Paired with Glycolix™ Elite Facial Cream Ultra Lite facial moisturizer, the skincare duo is a true favorite combination among my young patients. Incidentally, my daughter is a huge fan of the Ultra Lite facial moisturizer because of the sheer, oil-free hydration it delivers.

And don’t forget the sunscreen. I recommend daily application on all exposed areas of the skin, especially the face. Most of today’s moisturizers contain an SPF of at least 15-45 and are very elegant as well. Again, starting good habits with regular application of sunscreen during the formative second decade is pivotal to maintaining healthy skin for a lifetime.

Finally, I implore all parents to please inform your teenagers about the dangers of tanning booths. According to the Melanoma Research Foundation, due to tanning booths, “Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for young people 15-29 years old.” It has placed tanning booths in the highest cancer risk category, where tanning booths are simply straight-out carcinogenic to humans. These are very frightening statistics. Please educate your teenage children so that none of them become a victim to this deadly skin cancer. Young skin is vulnerable skin, and the damage done by tanning booths today will be remembered by the skin years later. Read more here, where Senada blogs in HDC’s “The Skin-ny” about the dangers of tanning booths and melanoma.

Next month’s installment for “Skin Through Your Ages” will be about the third decade of life, the young adult years, when those darn wrinkles and the early signs of sun damage and aging appear. So until then, happy healthy skin!

–Dr. H

Read  more about your skin in each decade:

Skin Through Your Ages I: The First Decade

Skin Through Your Ages II: The Teens