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Skincare for Teens With Acne

Dear Moms and Dads, 

Please send this article to your kids. I wrote it for them. I mean, you can read it too, but I really want to talk to your children. So go back to your stuffy old newspaper and send this along to your amazing offspring. 


Sarah Villafranco, MD


Hello awesome teenage person.

These are my babies. Or, at least, they're my children. They're not babies anymore, despite the fact that I keep begging them to stop growing. (Do your parents do the same thing to you? We can't help it! We loved your chunky baby thighs! Also it's our job to irritate you.)

Osmia founder Sarah with her two daughters.


My girls are growing up fast, with one entering 11th grade and the other in college. As I spend time around them and their friends, I can see some of them struggling with breakouts, and I figured I'd write down a few ideas to help keep your skin healthy during your teen years. I know it's hard to listen to your parents talk about this stuff without getting bored or feeling like they're being critical. But I figured if it came from someone else's mom, who happens to be a doctor and the chief formulator of a natural skincare company, maybe it would feel different. My hope is to help you understand acne a little better, and give you some easy things you can do to support your skin.

Acne is an inflammatory condition, which means that either your skin is inflamed and upset by something happening on the inside, or because of something you're doing to it from the outside. Usually, it's a combination of both things. Remember that your skin is never doing anything TO you. It's always doing something FOR you, and when it breaks out, it's simply telling you that something is out of balance. 

What internal factors affect acne?

Certain things you eat or do can cause hormones to surge in your body, and those hormones can cause zits. 

How does food affect acne?

The single most important things you can do to support your skin is to believe the following sentence: You are what you eat. 

There are certain foods that make your skin worse, and certain foods that can really help you glow. You can't expect to put junk in the machine and have it function well. Think of your body like a car—the better the fuel, the better the function. While occasional splurges are totally fine, your everyday diet needs to support your skin from the inside. 

Does stress affect acne?

The other thing that happens on the inside of your body that really contributes to acne is STRESS. We all have stress, even 5th graders! As you get older, it tends to increase because you have more things to do—homework, tests, sports, school plays, and finding time to hang out with your friends while remembering to be part of your family, too. It's not easy learning to juggle it all, and if it becomes too stressful for you, it will show up on your skin.

So how do you keep stress in check? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Exercise, or get outside. It's proven science that exercise creates chemicals in your body that make you feel happier and decrease your stress level.
  • Spend time with people who make you feel loved and supported. The "friends" who create drama and negativity are not the friends you need in your life. Pick the positive ones, and let go of the people who are determined to misunderstand you.
  • Try meditating with an app called Insight Timer. It's like making room in your brain so things don't feel so cramped. Plus, your parents will never object to you asking for a little alone time to meditate, I promise. 
  • Keep things in perspective. I mean, you may have a lot of homework or a relationship problem, but you have access to fresh water, food, clothing, and TikTok. Things aren't all that bad, are they??
  • Lastly, remember that your family loves you. They won't do everything perfectly, and parents are frequently annoying. But breathe through it whenever you can, because your family is your family, and nobody will ever love you as unconditionally as they do. 

What external factors affect acne?

Your skin is a living organ, and it has an opinion about what you're putting on it. Because it absorbs roughly 60% of what you're applying, it's not that different than what you're eating. If you're using junky skincare or makeup, you're going to see the effects on your skin. What do I mean by junky? I mean made of chemicals (some of which are harming your health and the planet) and fake smells and colors, rather than high-quality, natural ingredients. If you want to know more about what certain ingredients can do to your health, hop on this blog post and read all about it. 

In the meantime, I'd love to give you some options for healthy skincare and makeup, as well as a few general pointers!

What skincare products are best for acne?

Grid of Osmia Back to School Collection

Black Clay Facial Soap

Spotless Blemish Oil

Clean Teen Starter Set

Breakout Skin Kit

All of these products are part of our acne collection. If your breakouts are all over, I'd recommend the Breakout Skin Kit. One of our former team members wrote an amazing essay about how these products helped her skin recover from serious acne—check it out. If your acne is almost all on your chin, you might start with the Clean Teen Starter Set, and read up on perioral dermatitis to see if that could be consistent with your symptoms.

What makeup is best for acne?

Grid of clean makeup brand logos

A few of my favorite clean makeup brands are Saie, Alima PureW3LL PEOPLE, Ilia and HAN. They all have tons of shades and pretty colors, clean ingredients, and so easy to use. 


Which hair products are best for acne?

Grid of clean haircare brand logos

We love Josh Rosebrook, Innersense Organic Beauty, and Ursa Major hair products. If you have thick or wavy/curly hair, try New Wash by Hairstory! And yes, your hair products affect your skin, so it's important to use products that are not irritating or inflammatory like sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate and synthetic fragrance!

What habits can affect acne?

A few last pointers in caring for your skin during your busy school year. The little things may not seem like they matter, but I promise they add up to zits when you mix them all together. 

  • Use an alcohol wipe to sanitize your phone and keyboard every couple of days. 
  • Don't squeeze or pick zits. When is the last time you messed with your face and had a good result? Never? That's what I thought. Just use the Spotless Blemish Oil 3-4 times a day with clean hands and have faith—zits will disappear in a couple days!
  • Above all, remember that your skin is not doing anything to you, so please stop punishing it with a harsh skincare routine! Your skin needs love to heal, not abuse.

I know it's tricky to keep all this stuff in mind, but reread this post from time to time to make sure you're still supporting your skin in every way you can. There are some zits you can't prevent. But you don't have to suffer with breakouts all the time, or feel like you have to cover your skin with makeup every day. If you're willing to be a friend to your skin by choosing healthy food, lots of water, good products, and plenty of laughter, it will go a long way in keeping your complexion smooth and happy. 

With love and a backpack full of apples from us to you,