5 Skincare Routines & Teenage Acne Treatments in 2022

June 11, 2021 (updated October 7, 2022)

As a child of the 80s/90s, I struggled with finding a solution for my acne-prone skin that wasn’t full of harmful chemicals. Luckily, there are now so many more options to choose from for treating teenage acne! In this post, I share 5 non-toxic skincare products for treating teenage acne in 2022—a skincare routine + cool products they’ll actually WANT to use!

a visual listing of five great products for teen acne

By: Emily Barth Isler

Long before I was aware of what we now call “green beauty”—before I knew to even wonder what was in my products, let alone to vet the ingredients or look for plant-based origins—I tried the beauty line Proactiv. I was far from alone. The anti-acne system debuted via infomercial in 1995 and became endlessly popular in the late 90s and early 2000s thanks to celebrity endorsements, impressive “before and afters” and ubiquitous television commercials.

If you’re a regular reader of TNK, I probably don’t have to tell you the truth of what’s in Proactiv and other similarly harsh acne “solutions” for teenage acne treatment. I first became wary of Proactiv when I read reports that it wasn’t recommended for use during pregnancy, which led me to the question, “If it’s not safe then, is it really safe for people in general?”

IN THIS POST:

A lot has changed since I was a teen (thank goodness!). TikTok offers kids reality checks about advertising. Instagram gives beauty recommendations more varied than the simple TV-or-magazines choice we had. YouTube is the starting point of so many wonderful rabbit holes where you can learn anything from makeup application to cosmetic chemistry basics.

But one thing has not changed: teens still get acne!

Despite all the hype about elimination diets and cleanses, teen acne is often genetically predetermined and hormonally driven. While things like diet can certainly help, the reality is that, for most people, some acne at some point is inevitable.

So. What can you do about it?

RELATED: 5 Tips for Blackhead Removal and CeraVe Cleanser Swaps


The importance of routine in teen acne treatments

I did take away one really helpful tip from my Proactiv days: routine. It turns out that, for a lot of people who try Proactiv or other solutions like it, the thing that actually helps their skin is the consistency of having a skincare routine at all!

Most teens don’t—kids are unlikely to start regularly washing, cleansing, toning, and moisturizing their faces before acne makes it a necessity—and so the first step in treating teen acne is establishing a routine that said teen will actually do! (The “will actually do” is often the hard part!)

But it doesn’t have to be hard, and it certainly doesn’t have to be toxic, dangerous, expensive, time-consuming, towel-bleaching, and/or unpleasant! It could actually be…. wait for it… fun! Those of us who have had to teach ourselves self-care well into adulthood know that starting a skincare routine early on can be beneficial on many levels!

But that whole “what a teen will actually do” challenge is real, which means it can’t have too many steps, and teens need choices—not everyone loves fun scents and extravagant textures, and on the other hand, some people don’t want medicinal simplicity. Luckily, there is truly something for everyone, especially in the green beauty space. 


Non-toxic teen acne treatments they’ll actually use



RELATED: Check out my guide to the best skincare for men, my guide to the best skincare routine for your skin type and my current skincare routine.




Other tips for teen acne treatments

The key to surviving teen acne is often acceptance. As parents, we can model skin acceptance and self care, and hope that our kids can skip some of the trials and tribulations we went through as teens…including that Proactiv phase! 

  • Remember it’s temporary. Changing hormones mean that some blemishes are inevitable (and if your teen can learn that, they’ll be on their way to acceptance faster than we were!).
  • Stop picking. I know that it’s hard not to pick at pimples or be overzealous with treatments, but estheticians agree: the less you touch or disrupt your breakouts, the better. Leave extractions to the pros, no matter how much you want to pick!
  • Try to focus on embracing your skin. If you consider your teen acne treatments as part of a routine for self-care, you’ll learn to embrace your skin, and be gentle with it. Choosing high-quality products and sticking to your routine will keep acne as minimal as possible!

Teen acne FAQ

Which ingredients are harmful for teenage skin?

Important to ingredients to avoid are fragrance/parfum, parabens, PEGS and phenoxyethanol. For additional information, check out the TNK No Thanks list here.

How to get rid of teenage pimples naturally?

Choosing high-quality products and sticking to your routine will keep acne as minimal as possible. For recommendations for non-toxic skincare lines to try, check this TNK’s post.

How to treat teenage acne?

Choosing high-quality products (check out our faves!) and sticking to your routine will keep acne as minimal as possible.

Which brand is good for teenage skin?

Good non-toxic brands for treating teen acne are Cocokind, Doctor Rogers, Indie Lee and Osmia. Click here more recommendations on how to treat teen acne.

When does teenage acne stop?

Teen acne is temporary and changing hormones mean that some blemishes are inevitable but there are two important ways to treat it: 1) choose high-quality products and 2) stick to your routine. For more information, check out this TNK’s post.


What products or better beauty lines does your teen love?

xo, emily in cursive writing

TNK Team Note: This article contains affiliate links. TNK uses affiliate links as a source for revenue to fund operations of the business and to be less dependent on branded content. TNK stands behind all product recommendations. Still have questions about these links or our process? Feel free to email us.

By Emily Barth Isler

Emily Barth Isler lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their two kids. A former child actress, she performed all over the world in theatre, film and TV. Emily writes about sustainable, eco-friendly beauty and skincare for magazines and websites such as Organic Spa and Allure, and also writes novels for kids and families. Her debut Middle Grade novel, AfterMath, will was published 2021 by Carolrhoda/Lerner Books, and she has also written web sitcoms, parenting columns and personal essays. She has a B.A. in Film Studies from Wesleyan University, and really, really loves television. Find her at www.emilybarthisler.com and on Twitter and Instagram at @emilybarthisler.

2 Comments

  1. Reply

    Trlica Kennedy

    Thanks for this article. Any thoughts on the Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Solutions products?

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      We haven’t tried that one. Have you? Do you like it?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.