Safer Skincare for (Pre)Teens and Why It Matters

Teen skincare is a most frequently asked question! I know this is going to get long winded, so here’s what you’ll find in this post:

  1. Why Safer Skincare & Cleaner Cosmetics for teens matters
  2. Get them on board: empower with information and educate
  3. How to help them get healthy inside & out
  4. Safer alternative suggestions with printable instructions
  5. Upcoming Events & Active Giveaways are listed – don’t miss them!
  6. If you want more info, Join my Healthy Inside & Out Facebook Group and Safer Skincare E-mail List

Before we get started, don’t forget to join my Safer Skincare list for more info like this as well as sales specials on many of the products noted here today! ♥

With hormone changes it’s often the first time kids start thinking of skincare beyond sunblock in the summer. These days, it’s an even more important topic because incredibly dangerous and toxic stuff being sold to our babies. Understandably, we don’t want to give asbestos and heavy metals or hormone altering chemicals to already hormone-crazed (pre)teens we’ve nurtured their whole lives; if you’re like me, you spend way too much money on real foods and breastfed and cloth diapered to keep your kids as safe and healthy as possible. Just when you think you’re in the clear, this insanity bubbles up.

Problem is, once they hit those double-digit years, they want nothing to do with you, your ideas and recommendations anymore. What can we do?

  1. Educate
  2. Explain how being healthy inside their bodies affects their appearance
  3. Provide them with safer alternatives

Listen, this isn’t rocket science. It seems overwhelming at first, but really their needs are just the same as our own. They may want eyebrow pencils instead of anti-aging cream, but we can all understand where the other is coming from if we communicate. Here are my tips for success.


I found that the best way to get my kids to listen to what I say is to treat them as equals. I share information and help educate them on topics so they can make informed decisions. When Cole started going through puberty (shh, don’t tell him I said the P word) and I saw his first zit, we talked about it. Car rides with the two of us is the best way, since there’s no eye contact and no escape.

I explained that what he learned in Family Life Education (insert a joke to alleviate the tension from the P word) about puberty is legit. And it’s happening. We talk about taking a shower more often because hormone changes cause body changes, like oil secretion and sweat glands. We talk about how the lifestyle choices we make affect us. I discussed a high-level how-to on the skincare products I recommended, what order to use them in, and how they can help treat acne. Then we sit in awkward silence until we get home and he asks for “the stuff.”

Here are some good articles to start with:

After three days, the teens’ urine tests showed these decreases in the concentrations of the cosmetics ingredients under study:

  • 44 percent down in levels of methyl and propyl paraben. Parabens are preservatives widely used in cosmetics, shampoos and skin lotions.
  • 35 percent down in triclosan, an antibacterial chemical common in liquid antibacterial hand soap, dishwashing detergent, toothpaste, face wash and deodorant. Triclosan has been linked to the disruption of thyroid and reproductive hormones.
  • 27 percent down in mono-ethyl phthalates. Phthalates, common industrial plasticizers, show up in some nail polish and fragrances.  [source]

Claims vs. Facts

I make it very clear that my family learned all of this and made the choice to switch to Beautycounter for about 90% of our personal care products. We don’t promote them because we’re brand ambassadors, we’re brand ambassadors because we sincerely use and love them. I want to make sure you knew the reason for this brand. Specifically, Beautycounter is the ONLY brand that I know of that is TESTING both ingredients and finished products for safety – of both hormone disrupting chemicals as well as heavy metals. Not just “what are the basic ingredients” but testing finished products for safety. Their manufacturers sign contracts to uphold these same standards; they’re known in the community as “brutal counter” because of how difficult the standards are.

Did you know any brand can make any claim they like about any personal care product without needing to test or prove it? Natural, organic, BPA-free, you name it – no standards. For years I used fermented cod liver oil on my face that, despite the awful smell (fermented fish liver oil is as bad as it sounds), I was sure was helping. Why would anyone use a “beauty balm” that smelled so awful unless it was good for them and worked? Turned out, it was actually rancid oil. That company didn’t know. The people promoting it didn’t know. No one knows unless you TEST.

The thing about personal care and cosmetics is that there are so many possible contaminants. Something as simple as a rose being picked and put into a plastic bag by the farmer instead of canvas will leave measurable levels of BPA in an otherwise plastic and BPA-free product. No one would know the product contained BPA unless testing occurred. The FDA doesn’t require testing or have these standards; this is why labels on products mean nothing.

How to tell what’s safe

Color cosmetics contain asbestos and heavy metals (like lead), and that’s just the stuff they put in on accident – let alone the known toxic chemicals added on purpose. Without testing even natural, organic, or high-end brands cannot claim a product is safe. This is not just about paying more and avoiding cheap stuff. Things I look for are:

  • Are all ingredients disclosed and prominently displayed?
  • Does the brand work with industry to improve health safety overall (such as the Counteract Coalition)?
  • What is the product’s safety rating on EWG’s Skin Deep database?
  • If claims are made, what is backing it up – don’t tell me, show me?
  • And, are the products evaluated by a 3rd party?

I love the EWG app because you can snap a pic of a barcode and it’ll do the work for you.

Here’s an example of 2 Beautycounter products versus two comparative ones you’d commonly use on teens. I even choose versions marketed or thought to be “safe.”

For acne, we recommend Toner Pads to Stridex’s “sensitive with aloe” acne pads. The Stridex pads contain DMDH Hydantoin (a FRP, red level 7) and Fragrance (red level 8), both explained below as top ingredients to avoid.

You can see more of my Safer Swaps here.

Top Ingredients to look for and avoid

If you read labels and ingredients then at least you have a place to start with knowing what to avoid. While our family has come to trust Beautycounter after nearly two years of use and their commitment to better standards and regulation, it’s certainly not the only brand we use! Things like toothpaste and deodorant can be harmful to health as well. Here’s a list of ingredients and why we avoid them:

Parabens. These are preservatives that prevent the growth of bacteria, mold and yeast in cosmetic products. Parabens possess estrogen-mimicking properties that are associated with increased risk of breast cancer; they are absorbed and have been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumors. They can be found in makeup, body washes, deodorants, shampoos and facial cleansers. You can also find them in food and pharmaceutical products.

Synthetic colors. FD&C or D&C colors noted on labels represent artificial colors. F — representing food and D&C representing drug and cosmetics.  These synthetic colors are derived from petroleum or coal tar sources and are linked to ADHD in children. The European Classification and Labeling considers it a human carcinogen and the European Union has banned it.

Fragrance. What does “fragrance” mean anyway? This term was created to protect a company’s “secret formula.” You could be putting tons of chemicals that are hazardous to your health on and have no idea. Fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system. It can be found in many products such as perfume, cologne, conditioner, shampoo, body wash and moisturizers.

Phthalates. A group of chemicals increases flexibility and softness of plastics;  main phthalates in cosmetics and personal care products are dibutyl phthalate in nail polish, diethyl phthalate in perfumes and lotions, and dimethyl phthalate in hair spray (they’re also often found in deodorants, perfumes/colognes, hair sprays and moisturizers). They are known to be endocrine disruptors and have been linked to increased risk of breast cancer, early breast development in girls, and reproductive birth defects in males and females. Unfortunately, it often hidden as a “fragrance.”

Triclosan. An antimicrobial chemical that’s a known endocrine disruptor — especially thyroid and reproductive hormones, and a skin irritant. Studies raise concerns that triclosan contributes to making bacteria antibiotic-resistant. There also wasn’t significant evidence that antibacterial soaps containing triclosan provides any benefit over regular soap and water. Tricolson are found in toothpastes, antibacterial soaps and deodorants.

Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) / Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). This surfactant is in more than 90% of personal care and cleaning products (think foaming products like shampoo, body wash/cleanser, mascara and acne treatment). SLS’s are known to irritate skin, lung, and eye and can cause kidney and respiratory damage. SLS can interact and combine with other chemicals to form nitrosamines, a carcinogen.

Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (FRP’s) are in many cosmetic products to help prevent bacteria growth. Deemed a human carcinogen by The International Agency for Research on Carcinogens (IARC) it has been linked to occupational related cancers: nasal and nasopharyngeal. It causes allergic skin reactions and may also be harmful to the immune system. Found in almost all personal care products.

Toluene. A petrochemical derived from petroleum or coal tar sources. Listed as benzene, toluol, phenylmethane, methylbenzene; it is a potent solvent able to dissolve paint. It affects your respiratory system, cause nausea and irritate your skin as well as cause developmental damage in the fetus. Toluene has also been linked to immune system toxicity. It is found in nail polish, nail treatments and hair color/bleaching products.

Sunscreen chemicals. These chemicals function as a sunscreen agent, to absorb ultraviolet light. These chemicals are endocrine disruptors and are believed to be easily absorbed into the body. They may also cause cellular damage and cancer in the body. Common names are benzophenone, PABA, avobenzone, homosalate and ethoxycinnmate. They can be found in sunscreen products. [abridged from this source, read full article for more]

EWG has a whole section on teens for more info. Below is a short list, but other products to think about checking ingredients on as well:

  • Deodorant
  • Hair products
  • Skincare (moisturizers)
  • Lotions
  • Body wash

Lifestyle Choices

As children get older, I think it’s important to remember that they are their own people. Their body is theirs to make their own choices. One of my boys, I won’t name names *cough*Cole*cough* does not stay gluten-free when he goes out with friends. He comes home bloated, grumpy, and spends more time in the bathroom than usual. But it’s his choice. I talk to him and he understands his choice, so it’s his to make.

Healthy glow on Real EverythingMy teen. I so rarely get a decent photo with Cole these days,
he’s usually looking for a laugh with a snarl or snark…

My younger son, however, has a hard time realizing what makes his eczema flare. He genuinely tries to make choices that won’t inflame his skin; but, sometimes forgets or doesn’t realize where nightshades and dairy hide. All of this is to say, as our kids get older we have to empower them to make their own choices. Which is why education is so important. Here’s the list of things I prioritize with the boys:

  • Gluten (and grains), dairy, and sugar have the most impact on your skin; avoid if inflamed. We outline a family-friendly way to do this and describe it as Phase 1 in our book Real Life Paleo and ebook 3 Phase Paleo.
  • Gut health is essential, what your body is struggling with on the inside will show outside; consume broth, probiotic-rich foods, vegetables, healthy fats (pastured animals, avocado/olive/coconut oils, and grass-fed butters); avoid high volume of refined carbohydrates and sugars to keep your glut flora balanced and happy.
  • Sleep because your cells need to regenerate to heal and the only time they can do that is when you are sleeping!
  • Hydration – drink plenty of fluids, especially water! If you don’t like plain water then make a big pitcher with herbs, cucumber, citrus or other fruit that you do like; tea is also a good alternative, lots of herbal teas (my boys love the strawberry, blueberry and pineapple from Teavanna) are delicious!

While I’m all for educating and empowering our kids, when it’s in my home or with my money then my rules apply. We drink water at our meals. When we go out to eat and I pay, we follow the Phase 1 rules of Real Life Paleo because otherwise we won’t feel our best. They follow a bed time that we prescribe. If you ask them we’re militant, if you ask other people we’re not strict enough. I don’t care what anyone thinks; I put my kids to bed at the times they appear to need sleep and ensure that they’re easy to wake up in the morning and are in a good mood. Not the case? Guess what?! EBT (early bed time), my friend!

My preteen. The funk runs strong with him!

Provide them with safer alternatives

Your skin is your largest organ, and it takes in 80% of what you put on it straight to your blood stream within 30 seconds (sources 1 and 2). As the education information provided above, making good choices of what products are important. It’s also important to choose the right product for you. Not everyone is the same and different products will work differently for different people.

What I’ve done here is outline 3 overall recommendations for what I’m calling Teen Kits. Ranging from the basic starting point to both skincare and cosmetics, each comes with it’s own printable instruction guide on how to use the products. Remember, all of these products likely have unsafe ingredients unless you’re checking and buying conscientiously:

  • Deodorant
  • Hair products
  • Skincare (moisturizers and acne)
  • Lotions
  • Body wash
  • Perfume, cologne, and body spray
  • Make-up
  • Sunscreen (use this one)

Teen Kit 1 – Defunk the Tweens

  1. Shower & soap: at least every other day using either body wash or bar soap. Make sure to scrub face (behind the ears), armpits, feet and groin – but be sure to not put soap inside your body. Use either the Body Wash, Kids Body Wash, or Charcoal Cleansing Bar. The charcoal bar in particular is wonderful at pulling out oil and impurities, especially for those who are acne-prone; the body washes suds up nice and lather without SLS.
  2. Shampoo & hair care: avoiding foaming agents in shampoo is hard, Beautycoutner’s new generation hair care has a special technology that foams without unsafe ingredients and they also are color safe if your 10 year old has blue hair. Both my boys (tween and teen) used the Kids set and the conditioner is a great detangler but Finn recently graduated to the Next Generation Hair Care line because he has long colored hair. Use Shampoo first, then Conditioner and let the latter rest on your hair for a minute or two before fully rinsing out, root to tip.
  3. Deodorant, Schmidt’s Charcoal + Magnesium leverages all the positive ingredients I noted in my Detox Your Pits post (that one linked is no longer available) and SmartyPants also includes probiotics which will help balance bacteria, which is what creates the funk to begin with. Both of these contain coconut oil, which can be abrasive on the skin; if you start to see redness or bumps discontinue use. If you have sensitive skin, use the Charcoal Balancing Mask and Charcoal Cleansing Bar as described in this post.

Just click to print easy for 8.5×11″ paper!

Get started kit from Beautycounter to go with the above printable instructions: Kids Wash Set (shampoo, conditioner, and body wash) and Charcoal Cleansing Bar (for face and body)

Teen Kit 2 – Skincare for Teens

  1. Continue steps from above, then graduate to the specific hair care as may be needed. For skincare, wash face first with the Charcoal Cleansing Bar.
  2. For acne, use the Charcoal Balancing Mask weekly or spot treat as needed. Leave it on the spot overnight or used as a mask until it dries (5-10 minutes). Apply to clean skin (to make sure dirt isn’t put into the pores when they open) and then tone and moisturize after when skin is primed to take in nourishment. This mask has amazing results: 94% said mask absorbed excess oil; 87% said mask detoxified pores and purified skin; 87% said mask helped clarify complexion; 84% said mask made skin look clearer and more even-toned.
  3. Acne next step, apply 1/2 of a Rejuvenating Toner Pad to clean skin (cut in half or use one side and place it between the lid and inset to keep remaining pads clean). These naturally gentle pads use fruit acid (Vitamin C) and algae to exfoliate and brighten to even skin tone and reduce the appearance of pores. They’re fantastic for reducing inflammation when acne starts to surface; 73% of people who tested them experienced a significant decrease in pore count after four weeks of use.
  4. Balance changing skin with the adaptive skincare line, Countermatch. Regardless of skin type or season the Countermatch Adaptive Moisture Lotion is perfect for teens because it adjusts to their skin’s exact needs. This ground-breaking bio-mimic technology is popular even among those who do not limit to safe ingredients; 93% said it provides instant and long lasting hydration making smoother; 90% said skin looks and feels healthier. It’s an easy one-step application after washing with the charcoal cleansing bar if acne treatment isn’t needed.

Just click to print easy for 8.5×11″ paper!

Get started kit from Beautycounter to go with the above printable instructions: Charcoal Cleansing Bar, Countermatch Adaptive Moisture Lotion, and (optional if needed) Charcoal Balancing Mask and Toner Pads

Teen Kit 3 – Cleaner Cosmetics

I outline my favorite products for teens and how to use them below. Alternatively, the Flawless in 5 (5 minute face set) is a great all-in-one solution to replacing cosmetics and is discounted when bought together, all products included (Tint Skin, Concealer Pen, Blush/Bronzer, Eyebrow Pencil, Mascara, and Gloss) are customizable to the color selections you’d like.

  1.  Follow the Defunk and Skincare routine outlined above.
  2. Apply Base after moisturizing, either Dew Skin or Tint Skin. Dew Skin is my preference for teens because it contains natural zinc-based SPF that also helps reduce dry skin, inflammation, and acne. Dew Skin is a tinted moisturizer, so it’ll give extra moisture while also giving a dewy-glow (this product won Allure Magazine’s Best Of). Alternatively for more coverage Tint Skin is a true foundation; if going for this option I’d recommend the Flawless in 5 set. My recommendations are more for teens just starting to use make-up.
  3. Apply Eye Make-up: Pencils. Gone are the days of thin eyebrows! Brows are the new black, friends. And frankly, I’d much rather a teen put a sharp object on their brow instead of the edge of their eye, but either way carefully apply either or both to your desired affect. Beautycounter has both Color Outline Eye Pencil (eyeliner) as well as Color Define Brow Pencil (eyebrow). The pencils each have a tool at the other end to help with application and use.
  4. Apply Eye Make-up: Mascara. As a teen I would forego all else but HAD to wear mascara. I think brow pencils may have become the  new mascara, but if your teen is wanting mascara there isn’t a safer one than Beautycounter’s clay-based mascara. If you want the appearance of more thin and long lashes, get Lengthening Mascara. If you want big, bushy and bold lashes then get Volumizing Mascara. Watch my video here on my tips for application.
  5. Finish with Gloss. From a dark and lovely Fig to the bare nude, Buff, Beautycounter’s Lip Glosses are one of my favorite of their products. They deliver a sublte shine without stickiness and wear off evenly. They make them with nourishing ingredients that will moisturize the lips and do not contain any nasty chemicals you wouldn’t want to consume when wearing, since women eat up to one pound of what they put on their lips per year!
  6. Remover – remove makeup with either the Instant Eye Makeup Remover or my preferred super gentle Soothing Oil. Simply use a dry, clean rag – add the remover to the rag or gently rub the oil into your face, and then swipe off with the rag. The oil-based removers will gently remove without irritation or even the need for water or soap.
  7. Night time routine: clean your face with the other side of the toner pad from the morning and then apply the Countermatch Adaptive Moisturizer before bed (if using cosmetics) to restore moisture and balance.

Just click to print easy for 8.5×11″ paper!

Get started kit from Beautycounter to go with the above printable instructions: either Flawless in 5 or my recommended Dew Skin, Brow Pencil, Mascara, Gloss and Soothing Oil.

Upcoming Events & Giveaway

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll love other stuff we do to! Make sure to participate in the below so you don’t miss anything else we have coming up:

  • Through tomorrow (Sunday January 23, 2018) you can still enter my giveaway to Detox Your Pits; something all these teens probably need to do!
  • I’m planning something fun for February 2018, so make sure to join our Safer Skincare E-mail List to guarantee you don’t miss the announcement!
  • I’ll be going Live in our Healthy Inside & Out Facebook Group to talk about this more and answer your questions, make sure you’re a member so you can see the video.


I hope this was helpful. If you have questions, ask away! Team Healthy Inside & Out also offers skin consultations (no purchase necessary). I probably know someone local to you that can let you touch and try these products personally – comment or e-mail me so I can help!

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