A Dermatologist's Dos & Don’ts for Teenage Skincare

Article by Dana Epstein Altman

Photography by Fairfield Dermatology

Originally published in Fairfield Lifestyle

As a partner at Fairfield Dermatology for 14 years, and the mom of four children ages 17, 14, 10, and 8, Dr. Elizabeth Smith is a wealth of knowledge—especially when it comes to teenage skin. “My kids can’t handle complicated regimens, so I keep skincare routines as simple as possible” explains Dr. Smith. She says compliance is critical and recommends limiting steps for teens. She also agrees wholeheartedly that social media can be a breeding ground for misinformation, influencing teens to buy products they simply don’t need.  This is exactly why we asked Dr. Smith to break down the “Dos and Don’ts” of teenage skin:


JUST SAY NO TO MASKS: Although masks are occasionally good for the skin, they can often be drying and contain chemicals that can irritate the skin.

THE INFAMOUS JADE ROLLER: You don’t need to use a Jade roller for lymphatic drainage. Our bodies, especially when they are young, are very efficient at circulation, both vascular and lymphatic.  Jade rollers may be pretty and feel nice, but they won’t improve the skin’s quality.

MORE THAN SOAP: Dove soap is wonderful, but it will not clear up acne. Most patients with acne will need a medical or prescription-grade product. 

DEEP FREEZE: For any acute swelling, ice has its place but “depuffing” skin daily is not one of them. Neither is frozen cucumbers. 


SUNSCREEN IS NON-NEGOTIABLE! Even though it sometimes feels good, UV radiation is a known carcinogen and skin cancer is prevalent. Look for sunscreens without chemical screens, and that only contain Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide.  Although these physical sunblocks can sometimes go on white, the formulations have come a long way.

GET INTIMATELY FAMILIAR … Get to know your moles even as a teenager, and make sure you seek medical attention if you have a new or changing mole.  Also, know the ABCDEs of melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer, so that you can see your dermatologist if something looks suspicious. Be on the lookout for: A-asymmetry, B-irregular borders, C-more than one color, D-diameter greater than a pencil eraser, E-evolving or changing.  

KEEP IT CLEAN. With the addition of chemicals, dyes and fragrances to so many products, contact dermatitis and allergies can be an issue. Choose products wisely, and when you can, stick with hypoallergenic products free of fragrance and dye.

Social media can be a breeding ground for misinformation, influencing teens to buy products they simply don’t need. 

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