Now in my late twenties, I can assuredly be labeled as a beauty aficionada, but my 14-year-old self would have never imagined this. My beauty routine consisted of brushing my teeth, splashing water on my face and on a good day, brushing my hair. That was it. My skin was pretty clear (minus some occasional blackheads) despite my awful eating habits. Little did I know that acne would say hello once I entered my twenties…
However, I recall the distress emanating from fellow classmates and friends who were struggling with severe acne. I remember dermatologist tales being shared at the lunchroom and the struggle not to pick on your pimples out of boredom during class. Clearasil and Neutrogena’s neon plastic-beaded scrubs had it good back then, everyone was using their products. Alas, those were not the only treatments given: one of my closest friends was prescribed the birth control pill solely to treat her skin but the side effects of medication made her feel depressed and anxious…
If you browse Instagram, you’ll find numerous accounts and testimonies of people “curing” their acne holistically and naturally, but there’s no such thing as a ‘one-treatment-fits-all’ solution nor is there a quick fix. Taking wholesome and durable habits such as eating less processed foods, reducing stress levels, getting enough sleep, sticking to regular physical activity, minimal makeup combined with a simple (and green) beauty routine targeted for inflamed skin will bring improvements. Yet, blemish-free skin shall not be treated as an entity on its own nor considered as a goal, because the state of our skin is linked to a healthy gut and a clear mind. Thus, I would not feel comfortable using a sensationalist title such as “best products to cure acne and get clear skin” but be assured that these products are made consciously with the best intentions to soothe your skin and help you embrace it. I still have occasional breakouts but compared to my early 20’s, there’s a significant difference and going green has taught me to be patient and love my skin through the good and the bad times. Don’t aim for ultra clear skin because perfect skin is most likely an illusion, healthy skin, on the other hand, is something completely achievable.
I believe in two things when it comes to teenage skin: simplicity and consistency. As a result, I searched for brands that allow teens and young adults to build an entire beauty regimen – without overwhelming their skin nor emptying their wallets. Most of the brands have also been tested by myself. I also did an in-depth post on oils recommended for acne-prone skin (here) which provides additional information. If any of my sweet readers are feeling insecure because of acne,
I hope you realize that acne does not define you nor takes away your natural beauty and vibrancy. On your healing journey, learn to love yourself every step of the way. I promise it will get better.
Without further ado*, let me share with you some green brands that have a “teen-targeted” line or a collection dedicated to tackling problematic skin – N.B there’s no age restriction, they are suitable for all 😉
Annie Tevelin, who was herself an acne-sufferer trying every imaginable treatment available before launching her own brand, continuously stresses out the importance of self-care with a consistent yet simple beauty routine. Last year, she came up with this incredible project which consisted of collaborating with high schoolers from the Marlborough School for Girls. The students were given the opportunity to imagine a tailored skin care regimen dedicated specifically to teenage skin. The Teen Starter Kit was born out of this collaboration. In this kit, you’ll find the Avocado and Blood Orange Beauty Bar, Ylang Ylang Beauty Drops, Lemongrass Beauty Mist, Peppermint Beauty Balm, and a Beauty Wand. The products can be purchased separately. The whole kit allows teenagers to start a proper routine with fewer ingredients, yet ones that are highly beneficial for blemish-prone, congested and inflamed skin (such as cucumber, lemongrass, ylang-ylang, and frankincense). No harsh exfoliants, no plastic beads, no petroleum derivatives, just botanical goodness. I have been using SkinOwl products for a couple of years and they are truly amazing to restore balance and help fussy skin.
Z&MA has a playful vibe similar to Glossier with its fun packaging and stickers with the exception that it is eco-conscious at heart. I have been testing their bb cream (fiy: no sun protection in it), their gel cleanser, lipstick, and micellar water and let me tell you that they accomplished their mission. The rest of the line includes day & night moisturizers, SPF cream, and deodorants. I highly recommend the alcohol-free micellar water as morning cleanser as it is gentle and refreshing (if you’re new to micellar water, see my guide on it (here). This is a brand I would have loved to see in stores back in my teens. I still enjoy the cleanser, particularly in the summertime because it is a light cooling gel that does not leave a greasy film on. The BB cream is also a nice addition for those who want to have some coverage without aggravating the skin. It blends easily for a natural-looking finish and a nice “effet bonne mine” as we say in French. The bb cream gives you a lovely well-rested look while evening out the complexion. If you prefer skipping foundation and sticking to concealers, check out my video of non-clogging concealers (here).
Indemne has a terrific spot treatment called “Deboutonne Moi” (“bouton” in French means both zit and button) so “déboutonne-moi” means unbutton me – let me know if you want mini French lessons dispersed on my Instagram or the blog haha. “Deboutonne-moi” is a potent blemish blaster: a blend of hazelnut, hemp seed oil, squalane with essentials oils of lemon, carrot seed, cinnamon, and oregano. Indemne focused on ingredients that are antiseptic (lemon), astringent (cinnamon, oregano) but also balancing (hazelnut) and restoring (carrot seed/hemp). This product prevents new blemishes from forming while healing existing ones. The ingredients are organic (ECOCERT) and plant-based. I had a travel-size version of this and it is an excellent treatment to resorb spots and disinfect the area to prevent new blemishes from surfacing.
Lady Green made the decision to cater in priority to young girls with a more “kitschy” aesthetic, nevertheless the brand has been growing in popularity and can commonly found in French pharmacies. You can find blemish gel pen, micellar water, purifying mask, moisturizers, face scrub, cleanser, hand and nail cream. Makeup-wise, they offer lip gloss, mascara, and tinted cream. They also have charcoal sponges and konjac. What I find particularly interesting is the blemish pen gel: not only does it come in a convenient format that is easy to carry everywhere, it most importantly contains”acne-nemesis” ingredients such as zinc, neem, and burdock. The brand is Ecocert, cruelty-free and made in France.
Pulpe de Vie has a collection called (IM)perfection, designed to treat blemishes and soothe inflammation. They have micellar water, face cream and serum (called NoFilter). The latter is a water-based serum formulated with purifying grapefruit water and peppermint leaf water. Add to that cooling cucumber, oil-controlling zinc, anti-inflammatory, and healing Bisabolol, and you get a well-rounded serum for teen skin. Pulpe de Vie’s price range is also hard to beat and perfectly appropriate for youngster budget.
I have been using them for years, I swear by the alcohol-free ones. Thayers toners have a simple formula with not more than 6 ingredients. One of their key and proprietary ingredient, witch hazel, is, unlike others, not distilled, thereby rich in natural tannins. Not drying, witch hazel does not disrupt the skin’s balance and helps tighten pores and protect skin from impurities. I recommend getting the alcohol-free and unscented ones which also has soothing Aloe Vera and vitamin-rich grapefruit seed extract.
The detox line is astounding for oily skin since Skin & Tonic has been sticking to ingredients whose function are to clear up problematic and irritated skin. Fewer ingredients (to minimize risks of bad reactions) but the right ones. A routine involving their game-changer of a cleanser Steam Clean (reviewed here), their Detox mask and face oil (reviewed here), is, in my opinion, a winning formula to help you take better care and control of your skin. The itchiness and pain that comes with inflamed zits are quickly resorbed with the detox oil, a weekly mask will keep impurities at bay and Steam clean will get rid of the daily grime and pollution while nourishing your skin.
FunEthic is another French brand that decided to reach for teens. Super budget-friendly, the line called “Être Ado”, was designed to treat skin problems with antibacterial, purifying and sebum-regulating ingredients that help balance and heal acne skin without drying it out. The star product seems to be their mattifying day cream which guarantees fresh, balanced and hydrated skin for 24h. Non-comedogenic, it contains barley stem water, sage oil, grapefruit extract as well as aloe leaf powder and Vitamin E. Grapefruit seed extract removes the dirt and oil trapped inside the skin which can lead to acne and helps balance skin’s oil production. They are Cosmèbio certified, made in France, palm-oil-free and the fragrance is natural.
Andalou Naturals has a 12-products line, The Clear Skin for oily & overactive skin. The core ingredients combine fruit stem cell, probiotics, and aloe vera polysaccharides to help hydrate and gently balance pH with astringent ingredients such as willow bark to purify pores and curb bacteria. I have got my eyes on the Argan stem cell Benefit balm with SPF30. Sun protection should not be neglected especially in conjunction with treatments such as salicylic acid which cause the skin to be more sensitive to the sunlight. The formula is lightweight and can be used as face moisturizer since it is untinted. The kombucha enzyme exfoliating mask is another great product made with grapefruit kombucha, pineapple, and papaya enzymes which will gently dissolve dry surface cells that can clog pores and cause breakouts. The willow bark pure pore serum is also quite popular to calm inflammation.
Just like Andalou, Derma E’s anti-acne line called Very Clear includes a unique anti-Blemish Complex of natural, antibacterial and antiseptic ingredients (Tea Tree Willow Bark) and soothing (Rosewood, Lavender and Chamomile) in addition to salicylic acid. This combination aims to unclog pores while delivering hydration and balance to the skin. No harsh or abrasive treatment which can only make the skin more irritated. Worth checking out also is the scar gel to heal existing acne scars. I have not tested it personally but I heard rave reviews. The face scrub is also a green alternative to Neutrogena’s scrubs.
Acure has a 6-product range called “Incredibly Clear” which is also cost-effective. They have a clay cleanser. Clay is usually recommended for oily/acneic skin because it absorbs excess oil and helps decongest pores. The formula cleverly includes clarifying/brightening ingredients such as charcoal and lemon (excellent antiseptic). I’d also keep an eye on the spot treatment which has willow bark extract, salicylic and glycolic acid, ingredients having the ability to penetrate the follicle, clearing the pores of dirt and reduce acne flare-ups and breakouts. The De-puff hydrogels might also come in handy for teenagers who are at odds with sleep. In addition to skincare, Acure has extensive body care and hair care range, most of them for less than $10.
Specific products to add to the acne kit (I really had to stick to a limited number of recommendations, also I want the suggestions to remains as affordable as possible. Teenagers should not have to spend a fortune on skincare.
Indie Lee Spot treatment (reviewed here)
One of my OG treatments for pesky pimples. The ultimate blemish blaster, it needs no introduction anymore. Whoever wants to speed up the clearing process and shrink a zit in record time will enjoy Indie Lee’s potent treatment. Let it work its magic overnight. I always keep a bottle at home, just in case.
It has this cooling jelly consistency without going into the sticky territory which makes it suitable to wear before moisturizer and makeup. A clever blend of Spruce Knot, Kanuka Essential Oil, Roman Chamomile, Lavender and Eucalyptus, it is stellar for congested and blocked pores. Used overnight, it reduces zits noticeably and speeds up the healing process. .
The detox mask that will make teenagers go loco with its delectable cocoa scent. It is excellent for textured skin, thanks to anti-oxidant rich raw cacao hydrating coconut water, and soothing aloe vera work to heal and restore dull skin. Also formulated with Australian clays to draw out impurities and brightening turmeric and vitamin to brighten the skin and lighten scars and hyperpigmentation.
I made an exception as this is a more expensive treatment but I was blown away by how it seemed to help with cystic acne. My problematic area remains my chin especially during that time of the months. Yet, with a diligent application of Kigelia (I used the whole bottle without interruptions) I experienced fewer and fewer breakouts. It is feather light and works superbly. My review (here).
I hope this post will come in handy, I’ll also share skincare products for mature skin because this was another highly requested post. Let me now if you have any questions suggestions or feel free to share your own experience as a teenager with skincare.
Do you think there should be more awareness raised towards acne and teenage skin?
*Fun French fact: “ado” is short for adolescent so it means teen in French. **This post is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide health diagnosis or replace professional medical advice to treat acne or any health conditions. Please seek to consult your health care provider.
Green hunter, wellness junkie and pun maker on the website, I'm on a journey towards a kinder and healthier life. @lizthegreenspirit on Instagram.