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NOW READING The Ultimate Teen Skincare Starter Kit: What You Need to Kick-Start Your Skin Journey
January 14, 2019

The Ultimate Teen Skincare Starter Kit: What You Need to Kick-Start Your Skin Journey

If you’re a teen or pre-teen, and you’re ready to start your skincare journey, listen up! Because we’ve got one of the top skincare influencers to not only show you how to get started but how NOT to make the mistakes she did as a teen. Plus, affordable K-beauty product recommendations that just may get you hooked for life. So let’s get started!


Every day I am reminded that I am not a young’un anymore — whether it’s my old, creaky bones struggling to get out of bed in the morning, or the fact that my metabolism is slower than a snail, or that I rarely go out of my house after 8 pm. But there is one thing that’s remained more or less the same, and that’s my skin’s ability to really be a pain in the butt a lot of the time. Hooray!


So that’s why today I’d like to share with you my teen skincare starter kit: the products I’d buy myself if I were a teen, or the products I’d buy for the teens in my life. All of the products I’ve mentioned in this piece are affordable AND effective, which is a vv big mood.


teen skincare


There are two things I want you to remember when building your teen skincare routine:


1. Quality over quantity

2. Consistency is key


One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen is a lot of people using every single product and step under the sun, just because it looks cool or someone else is using it. Find the products that work for you and stick with them. Consistency really trumps everything in a skincare routine.


And once you’ve found those ingredients that work well for your skin, keep using them! Money is tight, and there’s no need to keep buying new products for the sake of buying them. I’ve been using products like the COSRX BHA Liquid for years. I’ll never let it go!


The first step in a teen skincare starter kit is starting out with the basics in a routine. This means:


1. Makeup remover and oil cleanser

2. Gentle foaming cleanser

3. Hydrating toner

4. Moisturizer

5. Sunscreen

6. Bonus: sheet masks for fun. Second bonus, a gentle BHA or AHA product if you suffer from acne or have acne-prone skin.


teen skincare


OK, let’s break it down.


1. Oil cleanser


Even if you don’t wear makeup, using an oil cleanser, like my favorite (and hella affordable) Innisfree Apple Seed Oil Cleanser ($14), is a must for breaking up that dirt, sunscreen, and oil from the skin before you use a gentle foaming cleanser. You’ll notice a big difference in the clarity and brightness of your skin, trust me!


2. Gentle foaming cleanser


Some things you want to look for in a foaming cleanser are a low pH, something between 5.5 to 6.5. If your skin can tolerate it, 7 is OK. A low pH cleanser will help keep your acid mantle (the thin layer on the top of your skin) from getting damaged, which means less breakouts and more balanced skin. An old faithful of mine is the COSRX Low pH Gel Cleanser ($11). I mean, she just does what needs to be done, ya know?!


teen skincare


3. Hydrating toner


A lightweight, hydrating toner is a must to help bring some moisture and hydration back into the skin. If you have oily skin, it will help keep your skin balanced. If you have dry skin, it’ll drink up all that precious hydration, so really, it’s a win-win. There are some days I just put on multiple layers of toner, (like five to seven) and move on to my sunscreen.


teen skincare


I love the Pureforet Centella Multi Toner ($22.99) because centella and my skin are BFFs — it’s so hydrating and really helps to calm my acne. If centella is not your deal, the Klairs Supple Preparation Toner ($21.99) is an amazingly lush yet affordable option.


4. Moisturizer


Don’t be like me and skip out on moisturizer because you think it’ll be too much for your skin. A moisturizer kinda seals in all of that yummy hydration.


teen skincare


There are like a million and one to choose from, so for this section, it’s best to go on skin type. Oily, combination, and acne-prone skin tends to do well with lightweight gel moisturizers, while dry skin can go with a heavier, more traditional cream. Innisfree and COSRX are two of my favorite affordable, go-to brands for moisturizers.




If there is nothing else on this list that matters, it is this. Please, I encourage all of you to start using sunscreen as soon as possible in your skincare routines. Want to look young forever? Use sunscreen. Trust me.


teen skincare


The key to finding the perfect sunscreen is to find the one that works for you and makes you want to wear it. For the longest time, I avoided sunscreen because it made me have a white cast, it was too thick, it pilled under makeup. But now, I have a whole arsenal of sunscreens that are amazing to use. My favorites are the Earth’s Recipe Waterful Sun Gel ($25) and the Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence sunscreen. Both of these sunscreens are incredibly lightweight, feel amazing on the skin, and wear beautifully under makeup.


6. The bonuses: sheet masks & AHA/BHA


Now, as for the bonuses, sheet masks are very fun to use and can be extremely therapeutic, but they aren’t necessary, especially if you’re on a tight budget. And yes, I know sheet masks aren’t that expensive, but I’d rather save the money to buy a really nice oil cleanser or something.


reddit tips teen skincare


And as far as AHAs and BHAs and chemical exfoliants go, they really do help with oily and acne-prone skin, but I find that sometimes people tend to go overboard and they end up hurting their skin way more than helping it (coughmecough). So if you do want to get an exfoliant (get the BHA and AHA from COSRX), use them only once or twice a week, max. Learn to love and nurture your skin and not try to fry your acne off.


And remember, if you DO use any sort of chemical exfoliant, you have to use sunscreen. No if, ands, or buts.


So I think that about covers everything! Do you have any questions about teen skincare for me? I’d love to open up the floor!


Sheryll Donerson got her start as a beauty writer by writing K-beauty reviews for her blog, The Wanderlust Project. These days, she's lifting heavy weights, eating tacos, drinking (too much) coffee and is 1/4 of the beauty podcast, Beauty Beyond Basics (or Triple Bees for short). You can find her on Instagram and Twitter at @sheryllrenata.




Is it useful for 16 year old?


Is a toner actually THAT helpful? I never use it because I feel like it's unsanitary....


I think if you have dry or dehydrated skin, a toner can be a huge benefit for your skin. But as a teen, I think you can get away with just applying a moisturizer on top of your damp/moist skin right after cleansing.

I'm curious why you think using a toner is unsanitary. I'd love to know!


Since they're so watery, it seems that every little water-soluble germ and dust can get in there even if there's a small opening (especially when you use your fingers instead of a cotton pad). Nothing against toners, but the packaging I've seen looks terrible for keeping the product sanitary.


Ah, got it. You know, sometimes I decant my toner into a mister (or use a mist as toner), so I can spray it on my face right after I cleanse and pat it in. (Again, I wash my hands before doing this haha)


That sounds like a great idea! I should seriously consider doing that (daiso has a ton of little containers!)


Things I never used as a teen and wish I did:
1. Makeup remover
2. Cleansing oil
3. Hydrating toner (I thought toner = alcohol toner)
4. Sunscreen
5. Sheet masks

I weep at the thought of what it did to my skin. That's why I'm sooo diligent now with my routine. I see the effects of all that sun, sleeping in makeup, and stripping my skin, and I'm determined to undo at least a tiny fraction of it!


teenagers these days have SO many options! I'm jealous! hahahaha


I'm SO worried about the effects of sun on my skin—I'm a teen here and I'm seeing wrinkles!!! Sunscreen is a must. 


I wish I were as wise as you when I was a teen! If only I used sunscreen as a teen, I wouldn't be seeing half the skin issues I have now!


:0 I didn't realize the sun was that bad! To be honest, getting sunburned was always my biggest fear.