Tips for Face & Body Acne Prevention

Written by Jennifer Choi, M.D.

Caring for your skin doesn’t have to take up lots of time but does require consistency and daily effort. It’s never too early to start forming good skin hygiene habits and the things you do for your skin now will continue to keep you looking your best for many years to come. We have plenty of tips that won’t take too much time. Here is a list of our dermatologist’s top 12 tips for a great preteen and teen skin care regimen.

Tip #1 – Wash your face!

Never go to bed without cleansing your face, whether or not you wear makeup. Be sure to cleanse the skin morning and night or after working out/playing sports to remove excess oils and bacteria. If you do wear makeup or you are experiencing oily skin, you may want to double cleanse by first, wiping off impurities using micellar water/toner and then utilizing a gentle foaming or hydrating cleanser with warm water to wash the entire face.

Another important factor when treating whiteheads and blackheads is proper exfoliation. You may think that using a scrub with microbeads is helpful, but if this is done too harshly or frequently, it can actually damage the natural skin barrier and worsen acne. Instead of using a physical scrub, go for a chemical exfoliant serum or a wash containing ingredients like alpha-hydroxy acids or beta-hydroxy acids, such as glycolic acid or lactic acid. Use this 1-3 times a week after cleansing. This will ensure the dead surface skin and excess oils are coming off and not building up in the pores. Exfoliation helps to remove buildup. Don’t forget to apply a light layer of an oil-free, non-comedogenic moisturizer after exfoliating.

Pro-tip: Having trouble remembering to wash your face twice a day? Try putting your face wash on top of your toothbrush holder. You almost certainly remember to brush your teeth twice a day, so use that to your advantage!

Tip #2 – Avoid touching your face

Written by Jennifer Choi, M.D.

Avoid touching your face or any other area of your body that is prone to acne.

If you have acne-prone skin, touching your skin can lead to breakouts as it can spread bacteria. Make sure to wash anything that touches the face. This means that hats, masks, glasses, cell phone surfaces, hands, backpacks, and pillowcases require regular washing to prevent the acne-causing build up of oils or bacteria.

Tip #3 – Keep sweat on the court or in the gym

Written by Jennifer Choi, M.D.

Engaging in physical activities like sports and exercise are important parts of staying fit and enjoying life, but without taking a few precautions, your skin can act up.

  • Always rinse off after getting super sweaty and change sweaty clothes after working out. Sweat that stays on the skin can be a breeding ground for acne-causing bacteria or other irritation.
  • If you wear any hats, helmets, or gear for your activities, make sure to wash these regularly, or else they can also harbor bacteria and wreak havoc on your skin.
  • After removing a sweaty hat, rinse your skin or use a moistened facial towel, micellar water, or witch hazel towelette to quickly cleanse on the go.

Tip #4 – Moisturize your skin

Written by Jennifer Choi, M.D.

Yes, even oily skin can benefit from enrichment with moisturizer. Look for non-comedogenic and oil-free lotions and moisturizers to help protect the barrier function of your skin and give relief from inflammation.


Tip #5 – Do not pop your pimples/zits or pick at your skin!

Written by Jennifer Choi, M.D.

It can be very tempting to pick at a new bump on the skin or try to pop and squeeze pimples/zits, but picking and prodding the skin can be traumatizing and even scarring. Popping your pimples can lead to more bacteria, inflammation, and sometimes staining/scarring of the skin. If you have a pimple that is white or yellow at the head and desperately want to pop it, use a warm compress (or after a warm shower) to help open the pores then gently press and roll the area using 2 Q-tips or the sides of your two clean index fingers. Do not poke the skin with your fingertips or nails! If the pimple is not easily expressible using the broadsides of the fingers then it will traumatize the skin if you try to force it. Ideally, it is best to avoid touching blemishes altogether. Next time you are tempted to pick, try using a pimple patch containing hydrocolloid, combined with a topical spot treatment such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, to spot treat your zit.

Tip #6 – Be consistent with acne treatments

Written by Jennifer Choi, M.D.

Almost all adolescents experience acne at some point. If you begin to notice clogged pores, blackheads, whiteheads, or deeper zits, the best thing you can do is begin a skin care regimen as soon as possible and stay consistent. If you are using a gentle cleanser twice a day and begin to notice clogged pores, you can start using adapalene gel, which is an over-the-counter acne-fighting retinoid product. Avoid skin dryness by starting slow and using the product every few nights, slowly working up to nightly use. Just a pea-sized amount will be perfect for your entire face, right before bedtime.  Salicylic acid washes can be helpful for stubborn acne on the body. Spot treatments and acne patches can be used for larger, more inflammatory pimples.

The BLOOM Store is a good place to find some of the best acne spot treatments, washes, and moisturizers for your skin. Don’t forget — acne treatments can take time to take effect so give each treatment a trial of at least two months to determine if it will work for you. Don’t get discouraged if your skin doesn’t change overnight — with consistency and effort, you will get there!

Tip #7 – Be aware of other notorious pore-cloggers

Written by Jennifer Choi, M.D.

Make sure to wash anything that touches the face. This means that hats, masks, glasses, cell phone surfaces, hands, backpacks, and pillowcases require regular washing to prevent the acne-causing build up of oils or bacteria. Pay attention to whether your acne is worse on one side or area of your face and think about what may be causing it. Are your backpack straps irritating your back acne? Do you typically hold your phone on that side of your face? Or do you rest your chin on your hand during class? Hair products (especially conditioner) can also be secret-pore cloggers. If you are noticing frequent breakouts on the forehead or hairline, look for products that do not contain sulfates or are specially formulated to prevent skin irritation. In the shower, you can wash your face after rinsing out the conditioner to make sure that hair product residue is not left on your skin.


Tip #8 – Practice good skin care & makeup hygiene

Written by Jennifer Choi, M.D.

Most skin care products like cleansers and lotions have a shelf life of about two years. Make sure to wash all makeup brushes regularly and dispose of makeup products that are past their prime. That foundation from a few years ago stuffed in the back of your bathroom drawer could wreak serious havoc on your skin and even cause skin infections. In general, foundation, concealer, highlighters, pencil eyeliner, and primers should be replaced after one year. Liquid eyeliner and mascara are best replaced every three months. As fun as it is to have a makeover party with friends, make sure to sterilize beauty products before sharing them to avoid sharing bacteria too.

Tip #9 – Be gentle with your skin

Written by Jennifer Choi, M.D.

Don’t make the mistake of using harsh scrubs, toners, or exfoliators on your skin. Even with oily skin, a gentle cleanser is all that is needed to wash the surface. Harsh treatments can make acne even worse by increasing inflammation and breaking down the skin’s natural barriers and defenses. Along the same idea, don’t damage your skin with excessive sun exposure, indoor tanning, or sunburns.

Tip #10 – Don’t forget the sunscreen!

Written by Jennifer Choi, M.D.

Using sunscreen or sun-protective clothing daily is probably the most important healthy habit you can start to take care of your skin. When choosing a sunscreen, look for one that offers broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection and is mineral-based (meaning it is made with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as the active ingredient). Use at least SPF 30 and remember that you should fill your whole palm for a full-body application. Reapply every two hours when outdoors or even more frequently when you are sweating a lot or doing water activities.

If you have trouble finding sunscreens that work with your skin type or your activities make it difficult to reapply, sun-protective clothing should be your go-to! Choose a hat with a wide brim of at least 3 inches and a built-in UPF of 50 or higher. Sun guard long sleeve sun protection shirts and swimwear can keep you cool and protected. The things you do to protect your skin from the sun will protect you from getting sidelined with a painful burn now and will also prevent wrinkles, premature aging, sun spots, and skin cancer down the road. Don’t forget — all people, regardless of skin color, benefit from sun protection. Even though people with darker skin colors are less likely to get sunburned, it is still important for them to protect their skin from dangerous UV rays.

Tip #11 – Hydration + Nutrition!

Written by Jennifer Choi, M.D.

Remember that truly healthy skin comes from within. Get your glow on from within by hydrating your body every day. Every person needs at least 8 glasses of water per day to stay hydrated and preteens and teens often need even more to keep up with water loss from physical activities. Keep in mind that a healthy diet will also help you look and feel your best. A super-skin-saving diet minimizes saturated fats and high glycemic foods. Dairy and gluten can also trigger acne for some people. Avoid overeating dairy and sugar products — these can spike our hormones, sometimes causing more oils. Stay aware of how your body feels after consuming certain foods and make sure to get enough nutrient-packed fruits and vegetables that your skin needs to repair and renew.

Tip #12 – Get Help if Needed!

Written by Jennifer Choi, M.D.

See a skin care professional to get the most custom routine and treatments for you and to see what works best for you to have clear, smooth skin. An esthetician can recommend a custom skin care routine and perform clarifying skin treatments. A dermatologist can assess the skin and prescribe stronger acne products such as topical creams or even oral antibiotics or other oral medications if needed.