Teenage Pore Wars

Written by Lydia Sarfati, L.E.

As skin care professionals, one of the most rewarding jobs we do is help our teenage clients win the epic battles they fight against their pores. And we can rescue them as long as we are fully equipped with the proper tools and know-how. This article will discuss the essentials needed to make sure you and your clients overcome the pore wars.

Introducing Teenagers to Skin Care
To introduce teenagers to skin care, enable them to sample various services and products by conducting express facial clinics. Teenagers are just learning to care for their appearance as they struggle to develop their identity, and their mom’s cold cream is not going to help. Clinics are a great way for a group of friends to get together and spend a day at the spa like adults. They will love the independence it gives them and they will love the way they look even more! Education is the key to capturing these individuals and making them lifetime clients. Teach them to avoid things that can cause acne, such as touching their faces. Hands touch dirty money, dirty railings; then when you put those dirty hands on the face, problems arise. Also advise them that talking on the phone can spread bacteria as well. Most teenagers have cell phones these days, and they can carry a wealth of bacteria. Advise them to hold their phones off their faces and to keep them clean! Also teach them the importance of a healthy diet, which is important for beautiful skin at any age. And remember to make it fun!

Acne-and-Teenage-SkinAcne and Teenage Skin
One of the major concerns for a teenager’s skin is acne. Although not every teenager will suffer from it, acne often rears its head during puberty when there is an increase in the androgen hormones. Acne is an inflammatory lesion of the sebaceous glands, situated at the root of the hair follicle in the dermis. Androgen is especially active in stimulating the amount of oil produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin, which can lead to slick and congested complexions. The ducts of these glands can become plugged with this waxy oil, and comedones (black heads) and milia (whiteheads) form. They are frequently infected with bacteria, causing welts, deeper lumps, and cysts or nodules. Also, when oil is mixed with perspiration, the skin’s surface becomes slightly acidic. This keeps some bacteria and fungi from embedding in the skin and at the same time helping to retain water in the tissue by slowing down evaporation from the skin. When the sebaceous glands are stimulated (a process known as retention), hyperkeratosis occurs.
So, there are three factors that cause acne: sebum, bacteria, and enclosure. And when you encounter these factors together, it creates an environment for inflamed, irritated, and congested skin. As aestheticians, we are here to help. Today, acne can be treated without harshness and discomfort. There are professional solutions that provide clinical results without leaving the skin red and irritated. To take a full approach to addressing your client’s acne, you need a three-tier approach of professional aesthetic treatments, home care program, and diet with nutritional supplements. Beautiful skin comes from both the inside and outside, and it is important that we remember that when treating our clients. Some of the beneficial ingredients for which to look are:

  • Porprhyridium Micro-alga – A red, unicellular seaweed that is high in essential fatty acids, as well as vitamins B and C. This is used in combination with zinc as sebum regulating, moisturizing, and protection of problem skin.
  • Salicylic Acid – This naturally delivered beta hydroxy acid (BHA) improves the appearance and condition of the skin. Known for its exfoliating action and may be used as an anti-acne active.
  • Lavender Oil – An essential oil used for its aromatherapy and calming properties. Effective in treating acne, dermatitis, and oily skin problems. Antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.
  • Zinc Oxide – A soft white mineral used for its astringent, healing, and soothing absorbent properties. Micronized version is a mineral sunscreen.
  • Ichthammol – A mineral derived mixture, it is mined from the Tyrolean Alps in Central Europe. It is known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Used to absorb excess sebum and help cleanse the skin from bacteria.
  • Kaolin Clay – Used for its oil absorbing properties, kaolin clay refines the skin and helps clear breakouts.
  • Sulfur – Elemental sulfur is a proven mild keratolytic agent. It is used to unclog pores in masks and treatments. Sulfur accelerates peeling of the skin and has a topically antiseptic action on the skin surface.
  • Rooibos Tea Extract – Rooibos tea is a known source rich in antioxidants, as well as anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
  • Rosemary – Obtained from the leaves of rosmarinus officinallis, valued for its reviving and invigorating properties. Has natural antimicrobial properties.

t-zoneRegardless of which form of acne is prevalent on the client, it is known that sebum production or oil is the catalyst for the series of events that results in acne or skin blemishes. As skin care professionals, we know that excess sebum is often associated with enlarged pores, a tendency toward follicle congestion and an oily T-Zone.
We can treat acne prone skin by controlling the excess sebum production and maintaining proper moisture level. I recommend that your client receive regular facials once a week for four weeks, then once a month thereafter.
The first step to your treatment should be a deep cleanse. I recommend a soap-free cleanser with salicylic acid, known for its exfoliating properties. Steer clear of products with benzoyl peroxide, which can cause even more of a problem on the skin. Then, using a skin clearing and soothing serum, provide your client with a light, effleurage massage. Massage will help make your extraction process easier, but you want to be careful not to irritate existing acne. If there are pustules present, skip the massage. Then, using a desincrustation mask, prepare your client’s skin for extractions. If you have electrotherapy in your spa, you may use that as well.

"Your client’s skin did not transform into acne overnight, and it will take time to fully clear."

Although extractions are an important part of an acne treatment, do not overspend time during this portion of the treatment. Your client’s skin did not transform into acne overnight, and it will take time to fully clear. Now, you may use high frequency on the skin for its germicidal benefits. Rebalance the skin with an antioxidant astringent. Then, use an oil absorbing clay mask for a further deep cleanse, and calm the skin with a calamine mask to reduce any redness or irritation. Although acne skin tends to be on the oily side, you still want to make sure that your client leaves protected and hydrated. Apply a mattifying moisturizer with zinc oxide to help protect the skin that you have just worked so hard at perfecting.
Education and knowledge is the key in treating acne. Educate your client on the importance of in-spa treatments and following a home care program especially designed for them. As you know, picking and squeezing pustules will only make their acne worse. Picking can spread acne-causing bacteria and squeezing can spread infected material deeper into the skin causing more inflammation and even scarring. Another misunderstanding is that acne can simply be washed away. Over-washing will further irritate the skin.

homecareAppropriate Home Care
Before your client leaves, do not let them go home without the appropriate at-home care! Teenagers want products that are easy to use and fast-acting. They steer clear of glass jars or heavy bottles. They want products they can throw in their backpacks and use for touch-ups after gym class. This client segment chooses to buy a product based on four factors. First, is it fun? Young people love foamy cleansers, quick rinse-off masks and spray on moisturizers. Second, does it smell good? This type of client is turned off by overpowering fragrances. Look for products that feature a light, clean scent. The aromas of food and flowers are extremely popular among this demographic. Next, will the product improve their skin? As an age group, they are defined by oily T-Zones, comedones, and breakouts. They seek products that will minimize pores, exfoliate, cleanse deeply, and spot-treat blemishes. Finally, is the packaging cool? Image is everything for style-conscious teenagers. Also, keep in mind that today’s young people may have generous disposable incomes, but they also seek value. Aim to keep retail prices below $35.

With the right professional care, proper cleansing, and the correct at-home care, you will be able to help your clients maintain beautiful complexions, even through their tough teenage years. When they finally make it past this sometimes trying time, they will not forget how you helped them, and you will have created a fan and loyal client for life.


Lydia-Sarfati 2014Lydia Sarfati, president and founder of Repêchage, is an internationally recognized skin care expert quoted in Vogue, In Style, Glamour, and New York Times as well as featured on CNN, CBS, and FOX. Sarfati is the creator of the world-renowned Four Layer Facial® and has over 30 years of experience as an aesthetician, spa owner, manufacturer, and consultant. Sarfati is also the recipient of both AIA/DERMASCOPE Magazine’s Legend Award and LNE’s Crystal Award. Lydia Sarfati was granted the ICMAD’s Cosmetic Entrepreneur Award for Leadership and the NCA Pillar Award for Education Leadership and was recently presented with the prestigious Chevalerie “Knight Award” by Intercoiffure Mondial.

1 comment

  • Comment Link Avril Tuesday, 29 July 2014 15:04 posted by Avril

    This article was a wonderful reading piece.I am from the Caribbean where there is a lot of sun, what product line would be most recommended for this tropical weather. This is also regarding to Acne.There is quite a bit of ethnicities Africans,Asian,Indians and Caucasians .I am really searching for a product line that can help me assist the needs of the people of my country Trinidad. I am newly opening my business and there is a lot of products out there, looking for some well needed advice and recommendation

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