Sydney Poppe and Trent Brink

As young people begin their teenage years, they enter an era full of firsts: first car, first girlfriend or boyfriend, first taste of independence. Yet, there’s a certain “first” nearly all teens face that isn’t so exciting: acne.

Coming in all shapes and sizes, it’s a rite of passage for teenagers to have run ins with these so called face demons. While nearly all people will experience skin flare ups at one point or another, skincare struggles can be a major annoyance of young adulthood.

When trying to pinpoint exactly why acne appears among teens, most answers lie in understanding hormones effects on the body. According to Mayo Clinic, acne is the result of hair follicles getting clogged with oil and dead skin. Since a major side effect of puberty is increased production in oil, it makes teenagers and acne a match made in heaven.

While a pimple here and there is manageable for most, some teenagers experience dramatic changes in their skin that can deflate self confidence.

“At first… it was just kind of annoying,” said sophomore Josie Taylor, “But then as it just kept coming, I was like hiding. I found any way to cover it up and then I would just constantly focus on it.”

For teens like Taylor, acne can become something more than a mere inconvenience. While basic forms of acne can clear up with some basic cleansing and a bit of patience, many teens deal with stubborn skin issues that require more attention.

Despite acne struggles being merely a result of growing older, those who struggle with their skin more than others can fall victim to negative stereotyping, and ridicule for their skin’s appearance. In reality, Taylor said that a large majority of acne sufferers have little control over their situation.

“One misconception is that it’s your fault and your just not taking care of it. But really, it’s not like that at all. It’s something that comes through like inheriting genetics that make you more likely to get it or different reasons that come up,” Taylor said.

Prior to finding the right method for dealing with her skin, Taylor said her acne negatively influenced her confidence and wounded her self image.

“I didn’t feel ugly, but I did feel gross. I felt like my entire face was just not okay,” said Taylor. “It was an uncomfortable feeling. Every time I would look in the mirror, my eyes would go to some place on my face.”

Last winter, Taylor said her skin struggles reached their peak and looking for a solution, she opted for a more specialized treatment by going to a dermatologist, a doctor that specializes in skin problems. Because of this decision, Taylor said she was finally able to resolve her acne issue despite initially feeling a bit apprehensive about seeking out an dermatologist appointment.

“It helped clear everything up and it gave me an idea of what I’m going to do to fix it… [Before] I was just going off of whatever I felt at the moment and now I have a fair path of what to do when things start to get really bad. It’s just a lot easier,” Taylor said.

Despite teenagers of all shapes and sizes struggling with acne, a common misconception amongst adolescents is that skincare is a feminine quality. Senior Jordan Russo-Hicks said he seeks to disprove this notion. “Having good hygiene is rare and something of an accomplishment so who cares what gender but yes because how I got introduced, and who it’s conveyed by in media, by women. it’s not “manly” to put on a face mask I guess.”

Russo-Hicks begins his cleanse with a scrub and a rinse with warm water. He’ll proced to use one of his “various face masks” but he particularly likes his 24k gold one that peels off. He will then rinse again with warm water and apply a nice moisturizer and toner and be done.

One of the biggest challenges according to Russo-Hicks, regardless of man or woman, is commitment. “If you don’t have a mind for it multiple times a day then you already messed up, it’s a everyday thing to be honest. I’d say it really just comes down to knowing what works for your skin. You can’t use every product that everyone else uses, and that’s where it’s hard to understand sometimes” Russo-Hicks said.

Russo-Hicks notes that acne doesn’t only affect women. “At the end of the day it’s a sacrifice you have to make to deal with the backlash of stereotypes especially regarding what’s “right” for the genders to do. I could care less if I’m feminine if my skin is looking right.”

In the end, with all the changes occurring in teens as they grow older, a person’s skin can undergo immense transformations that require some extra care, no matter the person. While discovering the best way of tackling acne and skin issues can be difficult, acne is not invincible.

“Name your pimples, make jokes about it, and don’t let it control you,” Taylor said.

Photo by Vanesa Nhotharack.