The Basics to Facing Your Acne


Tanya Vidhun, Science Editor/Contributing Writer, Yorba Linda CA

As teenagers, when looking into the mirror, there are so many changes we’re going through, although the most noticeable among some of us might be: acne. Around 85% of teenagers end up facing acne at some point, yet we often let these pimples, “zits,” and cysts define us and damage our self-esteem. So, if acne is just a normal change, what is it that makes some of us insecure about acne at times? Apart from the amount of social pressure we can use to justify these feelings, the answer really is: we should be confident in our own skin. 

Basics and Misconceptions of Acne:

To start, acne is a skin condition in which hair follicles in tiny pores in the skin become clogged with excess sebum, an oily substance naturally present on the skin, and dead skin cells. This condition ranges from minor blackheads and whiteheads to cystic forms, which can be more serious but still treatable and can naturally go away in time. Acne worsens when bacteria, like P. acnes, trigger inflammation at the pore, causing redness and pain to occur at the site of infection.  

Sometimes, on the Internet, you may find images of “face maps” that map acne at a specific part of the face with health issues in other parts of the body. Although this was once a traditional belief in certain cultures, these “face maps” have not been strongly supported by scientific evidence. Pimples are usually found in oily areas of the face but can also occur on the back, chest, and shoulders sometimes. However, it’s important not to engross yourself in misconceptions about acne as a condition since it is a relatively popular subject on the Internet, and not all sources and solutions are healthy. 


Since acne is caused by an excess of oil on the skin, there could be a number of reasons triggering acne. Increased levels of hormones, like testosterone, tend to be a significant trigger for adolescents, which is why acne is more prevalent among teenagers and young adults. The specific glands in the skin, sebaceous glands, secrete the oily substance, sebum, but these glands are very sensitive to hormonal changes. The subsequent overactivation of these oil glands leads to excess secretion of sebum, under new hormonal conditions, especially during pre-teen/teenage adolescence and menstruation for women in general. Acne can also run in families, in some cases. Specific “trigger foods” may also trigger acne. Drinks and food, with high amounts of sugar, for instance, can sometimes be “trigger foods,” so avoiding this diet, in general, promotes a healthy lifestyle. 

Treatment Possibilities:

However, in many cases, acne does clear up on its own once teens reach adulthood. Other factors, such as reduced stress and healthier skincare habits, can also help treat acne.

Since everyone’s skin type is different, the skincare regimen that works for you is personal to your skin. A simple skincare routine, though, for a teenager, consists of a cleanser/face wash, possibly some form of spot treatment or serum, and moisturizer. This routine is typically done twice a day: once in the morning and once at night. Two of the main treatments used for acne are benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, so finding a cleanser or treatment with small amounts of these might help reduce acne. There are plenty of websites and sources online that provide advice on products for teen acne routines, like those found in this linked “Beauty Within” video.  That is to say one should use these treatments and chemicals in limited quantities, since we often underestimate how much our skin can handle. In fact, dermatologist Dr. Zeichner says, “Applying multiple products increases your risk of skin irritation…  you may be inadvertently inactivating products because of the combination.” Using a simpler skincare routine can promote healthier skin in the long run, so remember: more is not always better, with skincare, especially with strong treatments. 

Healthy Habits to Consider:

Healthy habits overall can reduce the severity of acne. You may be spreading impurities to your face without realizing it. For example, cleaning items like your phone is an encouraged practice to avoid the spread of collected dirt from your skin to your face. Making sure to avoid touching the face overall may help reduce acne, especially avoiding pop pimples, a common “don’t” of skincare.

Improved management of stress by mindfulness, exercise, or whatever works for you, as well as prioritizing your schedule to gain quality sleep, can prevent acne. Remember to also drink water throughout the day to keep your body hydrated and skin, in turn, healthy. Using sunscreens regularly is also crucial in protecting your skin from the sun’s damage. Finally, only staying consistent with your skincare routine will produce improved results. 


All in all, many teenagers struggle with acne. Acne-shaming, especially at this age, is certainly a toxic feeling. Even if you don’t struggle with acne, be mindful of those who may be struggling with it, and remember to spread “acne-positivity.” Your skin is constantly changing with you, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Especially at a time when we’re all growing into confident, powerful leaders: seriously, don’t let a couple of dots or bumps on your face define you! Being comfortable in your own skin is the first step to spreading positivity to others.