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The Best Affordable Skincare Routine for Teens

As developing teens, we are bound to get acne as our sebaceous glands start to develop. It is only fair that we find affordable ways to treat and maintain our skin. There are many expensive luxury skincare products that are tempting to buy as they make promises for instant healthy skin for a few hundred dollars. However, I promise, you do not need to spend that much money to have good skin care. The idea that expensive equates to better, does not always apply to skincare. What matters is that skincare has quality ingredients. Drugstore skin care can be just as effective as luxury skincare.

According to skincare enthusiasts Felica and Rowena of YouTube’s Beauty Within (2021), the first key steps to a good skincare routine consists of a cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen, in that order. You should use this routine in the morning and at night. A common misconception is that you should only wear sunscreen when it's sunny outside, or only in the summer, but that is false! You should always implement sunscreen into your daytime skincare routine, even if you plan to stay inside. The sun is always out and releases damaging UV rays that attack your skin in the long term and can cause skin cancer. According to Beauty Within (2021), Ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide reflect the UV rays off your skin, which is something you should look for when purchasing sunscreen. Most importantly, look for how much Sun Protection Factor (SPF) a sunscreen has. SPF can range from 2-100 and sunscreen with at least SPF30 is good enough to protect your skin.

Affordable sunscreens I recommend:

  • Cerave Hydrating SPF30 lotion - $15 - Sold at CVS/Walgreens/Walmart. (Recommended by skincare specialist Hyram (2020) because of its ingredients)

  • Aveeno daily moisturizing sunscreen SPF30 - $8.99 - Sold on Amazon (A personal favorite because of price and effectiveness)

Cerave and Aveeno are both effective and affordable sunscreens, but it depends on your personal preference because everyone’s skin is different. I recommend you experiment and see which one you like best. Aveeno is more affordable so it may be your first choice, but if you want sunscreen with an extra kick that provides overall skin health and sun protection, Cerave is the way to go. However, the downside to the Cerave sunscreen is that it can leave a slight white cast on your face, but you can blend it in.

According to skin care specialist Hyram (2021), cleanser is the most important step in skincare. After a long day, dirt, dead skin, and oil or sebum (from our sebaceous glands especially during our teen years), builds up on the skin and can clog one’s pores, which are small openings in our skin. According to Beauty Within (2021), our skin releases oils to naturally nourish and moisturize our skin, but they cause a problem when they are overproduced and aren't properly managed or washed off. As a result, the natural skin oils can build up and clog our pores, which causes acne (pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, zits, opened pores, etc.). Dirt from the atmosphere and environment can also get into our skin and clog our pores, which is why you need something to wash it off and go deeper than the surface, into the pores, to unclog them. Some people have more active sebaceous glands so they produce a lot of oil, meaning they have oily skin, while other people may have less active sebaceous glands, which produces dry skin. Some people have a combination of both oily and dry skin, so it is important to choose a cleanser that caters to your skin type. For oily skin you may want to use a heavier or more stripping cleanser, and for dry skin, you may use a gentle and moisturizing cleanser to avoid drying the skin more. Here are a few recommendations from Hyram (2021) and Beauty Within (2021),

Cleanser for Dry Skin:

  • La Roche Posay Toleriane Hydrating cleanser - ($15) Sold online and at Ulta. This is a gentle cleanser that cleans your skin effectively without overly stripping and drying it.

  • Simple Micellar Gel Wash - ($7) Sold on Amazon and local drugstores. A simple cleanser that will clean your skin without overly stripping and it is affordable.

  • Cerave Hydrating Facial Cleanser - ($15) Sold online and local drugstores. Cleans effectively without drying skin but instead to hydrate.

Cleanser for Oily Skin:

  • Cerave Renewing Salicylic Acid Cleanser - ($15) Sold online and local drugstores. Formulated with salicylic acid and niacinamide, which is great at removing oils and dirt from deep in your pores without being too stripping, but still gentle. The niacinamide helps with redness, scarring, irritation, and less sebum production.

  • Cerave Foaming Cleanser - ($10-15) Sold online and local drugstores. Similar to the Cerave Renewing cleanser, but without the salicylic acid, so it is less stripping.

Cleanser for Combination Skin:

  • Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser- ($11) Sold online and local drugstores. This cleanser is simple, with simple ingredients that will get the job done without drying out your skin.

It is important that you get to know your skin and what works best for you, so experiment! Remember, everyone’s skin is different.

Now that you’ve cleansed and removed all the natural hydrating, but damaging oils (like sebum) and dirt, your skin may lack moisture and feels dry. It is important to rehydrate, which is why moisturizer is another essential step in a skin care routine. Everyone needs to moisturize his or her skin, even people with oily skin. According to Beauty Within (2021), the reason oily skin produces more sebum is because it lacks moisturize, so it produces oils to moisturize, which will clog the pores. Therefore, every skin type needs to moisturize. Moisturizers also act as a skin barrier that protects our skin from the outside and inside, by preventing water loss, which can cause aging. Moisturizing also helps our other skincare products to penetrate into our skin by acting as a lubricant and softening the skin. A good tip is to apply moisturizer while your skin is still a little bit damp to help it get deeper into your skin and work better, says Beauty Within, (2021).

Hyram (2021) provides recommendations for moisturizers:

  • Cerave Moisturizing Cream - ($6) Sold online and local drugstores. Great for drier skin types and really affordable for a sizable amount.

  • Neutragena Oil-free Combination Moisturizer - ($12) Sold online and local drugstores. A great balance of ingredients great for combination skin.

  • Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion - ($7) online and in drugstores. It has simple ingredients but gets the job done in terms of moisturizing and is good for sensitive skin.

  • Cerave Daily Moisturizer Lotion - ($13) Sold online and local drugstores. A really great moisturizer that is formulated with hyaluronic acid that takes in moisture from the air and ceramides, which are found naturally in our bodies to help hydrate our skin and restore the skin barrier.

All you need for a good skincare routine is a cleanser, moisturizer, and a sunscreen during the daytime.

Another option is Curology, which is a skincare company that provides a free trial. Curology develops a custom skin care formula just for your skin, based on your responses to a few questions. You also submit pictures of your skin online, and a Dermatologist will look at the questionnaire and picture to advise what ingredients your skin needs. Curology will make and send a custom formula for you, along with a trial size cleanser, moisturizer, and pimple patches for free! You are only responsible to pay a $5 shipping and handling fee and when the free trial expires, you will be charged $60 for the full-size product.

Curology is not very affordable after the free trial, but they are a good company and they work really great. I currently use Curology and it is the only product that has made me see noticeable changes in my skin. A little secret is that there is a way to get more than one free trial to avoid paying the $60. Nonetheless, I’d recommend checking it out because $5 for a cleanser, moisturizer, and custom formula is a very good deal. Hyram (2021) agrees it beats the other products and prices, but the major downside is the price once the trial is over.

If none of these recommendation meet your needs, Hyram(2021) gives the tip to look at ingredients and research what the ingredients are and what they do for your skin. For example, if a leave-on skincare product like moisturizer has alcohol in it, then it is not good for your skin and can cause excessive dryness, so avoid skincare with this ingredient. Believe me, there are lots of ingredients in skin care like that. Then there are other ingredients you should look for. If you want to use a more affordable skincare that isn't in this article, do your own research on the ingredients.

Beauty Within (2021) says other skincare products like toners, eye creams, exfoliants, serums etc., are good to have, but they are not necessary at all times and can be expensive. As a result, I didn't mention them in this article but if you have extra cash, feel free to squeeze in one of the extra products mentioned.Check out skincare Youtubers and skin care enthusiasts/specialists like Beauty Within (2021) and Hyram (2021), for your skincare education and questions.

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