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Your Back to School Skincare Cheatsheet

Your Back to School Skincare Cheatsheet

Summer is quickly fading and students are preparing to return to the classroom. Aside from purchasing new school clothes and supplies, have you considered updating your skincare products and routine? If not, I’m here to help! Read on for my favorite dermatologist recommended skincare tips, and get ready to go back to school with glowing, blemish-free skin! 

What is Your Back to School Skincare Routine? 

A basic skincare routine should consist of the following steps at a minimum: 

  • Cleanser
  • Moisturizer
  • Retinol/Treatment
  • Body Wash
  • Sunscreen

Passing the Test: Selecting Products for Your Skincare Routine 

No matter what your skin type is, your basic routine will consist of the following:   

Cleanser: Cleansing is very important for clean, glowing skin. Cleansing in the morning and evening helps remove dirt and debris which can clog pores and lead to breakouts. Using a cleanser with an active ingredient which is acne focused like benzoyl peroxide can help unclog pores, reduce acne causing bacteria and improve oiliness.  A gentle but powerful cleanser such as PanOxyl Acne Benzoyl Peroxide 4% Daily Control wash is perfect for keeping acne at bay.

Moisturizer: The type of moisturizer you choose is largely dependent on your skin type. For example, people with dry skin may prefer to use a skincare oil, while those with combination or normal skin may opt for a serum. One of my skincare tips I share with my patients is not to skip the moisturizer, even if you have oily or acne prone skin, as skipping moisturizer can actually increase oil production. Use moisturizer morning and night for best results. 

For acne prone skin, I recommend CeraVe PM facial moisturizing lotion before bed.

Dermatologist curated skincare box for teens

Retinol/Treatment: Your treatment can depend on your skin concern. When it comes to acne prone skin, incorporating a salicylic acid or retinol in this step can be helpful!

Salicylic acid is known as a "keratolytic." That means it works to break up dead skin cells, dirt and debris to clear out our pores. It's considered a beta hydroxy acid, which means it loves to dive deep down into the sebaceous glands (oil glands) of our skin and improve acne. 

Most people think of retinol for anti-aging, however, did you know Retinol also helps with acne? Retinol is a powerful Vitamin A derivative that is excellent for maintaining blemish-free, back-to-school skin. 

I recommend using retinol in the evening, around 3 times per week on days you are not exfoliating. Adapalene, a powerful acne-fighting retinoid used to be only available as a prescription, but now you can find it in several products over the counter, including AcneFree’s Adapalene Gel. (This is included in my For Teen Box!)

Keep acne at bay with this dermatologist recommended product

Body Wash: Acne doesn’t just exist on the face. Many students also experience acne on their chest or back. To keep this to a minimum, use a body wash containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid and make sure you follow up with a moisturizer. PanOxyl Acne Creamy Wash is perfect to stick into your shower to wash your face and body in one step. I also recommend SLMD salicylic acid spray to help combat acne. 

Acne fighting body spray in the Dermy Doc 'For Teen' skincare product box

Sunscreen: Sunscreen is important for any person, in any season, no matter the weather. As a dermatologist, I’m frequently treating patients for skin cancer in my practice. In fact, more than 9,500 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer every day according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.  Sunscreen is also your first line of defense to protect against skin cancer and signs of aging including wrinkles and pigmentation. If you struggle with acne and make dark marks after your acne fades (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation), then sunscreen will help you fade these marks quicker!  

For more tips about choosing a quality sunscreen, see The Best Sun Protection for You to Enjoy the Outdoors

Vitamin C Serum: Want a bonus? Incorporate a Vitamin C serum into your routine. Vitamin C is a great antioxidant to apply to your skin. This powerful serum is perfect for brightening skin, fading past blemish marks, and reducing hyperpigmentation. For more information about the importance of Vitamin C serum, see: The Benefits of Vitamin C Serum.

Addressing Common Back-to-School Skincare Concerns

The most prevalent Skincare concern for teens is acne.

 The National Library of Medicine published a staggering statistic: acne is a chronic inflammatory skin condition experienced by over 95% of adolescents. 

According to one study in Dermatology Times, more than 90% of parents of children with severe acne in one study were “very concerned” about the effect acne would have on their teens.

Symptoms of Acne

  • Blackheads
  • Whiteheads
  • Pustules
  • Papules
  • Cysts
  • Nodules
The For Teen Box was created by a dermatologist to help teens combat acne


The good news is, acne is manageable. In fact, helping teens struggling with acne concerns is why I created our latest specialty skincare box, our For Teen Box. This box contains an entire morning and evening skincare routine full of my favorite  skincare products for teenage, acne-prone skin. Best of all, it includes a laminated step by step routine to make using the products easy! 

From Dermy Doc

As a gentle reminder, acne is a medical condition and can sometimes require in office visits with a dermatologist for prescription medication, treatment and long term management. Please don’t hesitate to do so if you find these products aren’t working for you. 

Excessive Oil Production

Many teens experience excessive sebum production, which leads to shiny skin during the day. Incorporating a retinoid into your nighttime routine is the best way to reduce oiliness and shine for the long term. Oil blotting sheets can be helpful, but these can be a pain to walk around with and don’t address the problem at hand. Using a retinoid consistently will reduce the sebum (oil) production on your skin!

Note to My Readers

Skincare concerns are very common, especially with the stress and hormonal changes many students are facing each day. My ‘For Teen’ skincare box makes it easy to address skin issues and helps teens put their best face forward. Also don’t forget to take a look at my seasonal skincare subscription boxes, which take the guesswork out of skincare. We offer full size bottles with one bonus sample size with over $100 in products at half the cost.

Happy Reading!




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