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A Teen’s First Skincare Routine: What to Use + Where to Start


Start your Skincare Routine Today!

Teen skin… it’s like a roller coaster ride of acne, dry patches, oil, bumps, redness, and more, depending on the day. In some ways, you’ve got it made with bouncy, plump, youthful skin that’s enough to make you the envy of mature ladies who are piling on the anti-aging serums every day. So, which skincare products should you be using and where should you start?

Adults have the advantage of years of experimenting with different products to find which ingredients their skin loves, which are just meh, and which ones turn their skin into a hot mess. As a teenager working out your first skincare routine, you don’t have that benefit, so everything you put on your skin is a whole new experience. Experimenting is fun, but you don’t want to end up with skin that’s more broken out than it was when you started.

So, when it comes to a teen’s first skincare routine, you’ll want to start out with just a few products and keep things as natural as possible. The entire philosophy surrounding Korean cosmetic makeup and skincare revolves around healthy, clear skin, so a bare-bones Korean skincare routine is perfect for teens. The goal is to achieve healthy skin while avoiding the redness and irritation that come from harsh products. 

Your First Skincare Routine: Step by Step

When you’re establishing your routine, introduce new products gradually. This will be your secret to identifying which products are working in your favor, and which ones are irritating your skin or causing it to break out. 

Here are the most essential steps of a Korean skincare routine for teens:

  1. Double cleanse
  2. Hydrating toner (Avoid harsh, alcohol-based toners!)
  3. Emulsion or lightweight moisturizer
  4. Sunscreen

Now, let’s dive into each step in detail!

Step One: Double Cleansing

Double cleansing will be your new best friend! It’s the very best way to remove dirt, oil, makeup, and sunscreen without drying out your skin or causing irritation with harsh scrubbing. What you’ll do is start out with an oil-based cleanser to break down oil and makeup, and then follow up with a water-based foam cleanser to get your skin squeaky clean.

As a teen, your primary concern is going to be preventing breakouts, and removing every trace of oil and makeup are key when it comes to prevention. You’ll only need to double-cleanse in the evening; for mornings, your foam cleanser is all you need.

After cleansing, you’ll know you’ve chosen the right products if your face feels clean, but not dried out. It should feel soft and hydrated, never stripped. A low pH foam cleanser will be your best bet.

Step Two: Hydrating Toner

Back when your mom was a teen, she probably used a harsh, alcohol-based toner that burned painfully and dried out the skin to strip away excess oil. Well, times have changed, and we now know that this strategy is extremely harmful to teenage skin. 

While you do want to get rid of excess oil, it should never burn or dry out the skin. Just because it tingles doesn’t mean it’s working- it really just means it’s irritating your skin… and will probably leave it red, dry, and flaky. That’s not cute! Not only that, but irritation can lead to acne, which is definitely not what you’re going for.

Korean toners are perfect for teen skin because they soften, balance pH, and hydrate without adding oil to the skin. In fact, many Korean toners are called “softeners,” which is a clear indication that they look at toners differently.

Step Three: Emulsion or Lightweight Moisturizer

You’ll want to choose an emulsion or lightweight moisturizer based on your skin type. If your skin is oily, choose an oil-free emulsion that will hydrate without being heavy. If your skin is on the normal to dry side, experiment with lightweight, oil-free moisturizers. Gel moisturizers can also be a great choice for teen skin, and they’re especially refreshing in the summertime.

Korean skincare brands offer emulsions and lotions that are fabulous for providing hydration without adding oil. Don’t make the mistake of avoiding moisture altogether, even if your skin is oily. Dehydrated skin will just work harder to produce more oil. Oily doesn’t necessarily mean hydrated, so find a hydrator that works with your skin and don’t skip it completely.

Step Four: Sunscreen

Sunscreen is arguably the most important step of any skincare routine. For teens, developing the habit of using sunscreen daily now lowers your risk of premature aging and skin cancer later in life. Korean brands make a variety of lightweight sunscreens that feel great on the skin, with or without makeup.

To ensure that it’s working properly, apply a quarter-sized dollop of sunscreen to your entire face, neck, and ears each day. If you wear foundation, consider using a BB cream that provides coverage and protects from the sun in one lightweight, easy to apply step.

A Note About Acne Treatments for Teen Skin

If acne is a primary concern, you will want to add an acne treatment step to your routine. This could be a separate product, or it may be included in your toner or hydrator. 

Korean beauty brands specialize in treatments that contain salicylic acid, mild BHAs, and naturally derived AHAs. These ingredients are great for relieving mild acne and providing gentle exfoliation, but they won’t cause the redness and flakiness you get from harsh treatments like benzoyl peroxide. 

Start with a very mild product, because irritation and dryness will only cause more breakouts. You can work your way up to something stronger over time, but only if you really need it. Steer clear of scrubs and manual exfoliators, especially if you have acne.

Final Tips

Now that we’ve outlined your first skincare routine, you’re ready to start testing products. Be sure to introduce new items slowly and use them for at least a couple of weeks before bringing in something new. No matter how tired you are, be sure to do your entire skincare routine each night. Going to bed with oil, makeup, and sunscreen on your face is sure to bring on a breakout!

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