As you enter puberty, your naturally smooth, fine-textured skin begins to change. You may notice oiliness on your face, pimples (red bumps that often have a small white center), and blackheads (tiny black dots that are dirt-clogged pores). This is the beginning of acne. Acne is by far the most common skin complaint among teenagers, affecting nearly all of those in the 12-to-17 age frame at least occasionally, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. The condition, fortunately, is as treatable as it is common. Taking proper care of your skin before acne becomes serious is the key to keeping skin healthy and minimizing blemishes. As soon as you begin to notice oiliness or get your first pimple, it’s time to make serious skin care a part of your daily life. Memorize these 8 tips and make them your habit and you will have a lifetime of beautiful skin to show for it. Cleanse your face both morning and night. Always. Wash your face first thing in the morning (like in the shower) and before you go to bed. Use a cleanser for oily, acne-prone skin. Use enough cleanser to work up a good lather and make sure to wet your face well with warm (not hot) water before applying. Do not scrub hard or use a rough wash cloth. Be gentle but thorough to clean deeply without irritating your skin which will make breakouts worse. Be sure to use plenty of water to rinse well and remove all cleanser so no residue is left behind. You can rinse your face with cool water to help close pores. Dry your face by patting with a clean towel. Do not rub, which can be irritating and be sure to change your towel regularly. Dirty towels harbor bacteria. Use a toner after you cleanse. This will get any dirt and oil your cleanser left behind. It will also help remove (kill) any bacteria on your skin and close your pores. Simply wet a cotton ball or pad with the toner and swipe across your skin. Pay special attention to your forehead, nose (especially the crevices at the sides), chin, and jaw line. Apply a light, oil-free moisturizer with sunscreen designed for acne-prone skin after cleansing and toning. It should contain an SPF 15 (or higher) to protect your skin from the sun. Too much sun can make the oiliness worse and sun damage is responsible for 90% of aging. You can skip moisturizing at night. You need to keep the skin balanced, not too dry (or skin will overproduce oil). The goal is clean, moisturized, soft skin. Use acne spot treatment regularly (at least daily) for any pimples you have. You can also apply it sparingly to areas that you frequently get pimples on (like your nose or forehead). These treatments usually contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide (which will bleach and permanently stain fabric so be careful!). These are powerful ingredients that have been proven to heal blemishes faster. Use a clay facial mask once a week. This weekly treatment will refine your pores and clean deep down where regular cleansers can’t reach. This step may seem unnecessary but if you make it a habit you will see the rewards are worth the effort. Exfoliate once or twice a week for deep cleaning and removing dead skin cells. This will help resurface the skin and encourage the growth of new, fresh cells. Check your daily cleanser which may already contain exfoliating ingredients. In that case you do not need to exfoliate separately. Anything that touches your face must be very clean. Keep your hair scrupulously clean and off your face. Do not use hair gel or heavy (or too much) conditioner. Dirty or greasy hair can aggravate oily skin. Keep your glasses and sunglasses very clean and bacteria-free. Do not lean your face in your hands or touch your face unnecessarily. Do not lean your face against phones or any other objects. All of these actions can block pores and transfer bacteria from your hands or phone or whatever to your face. Pulling at your skin can also stretch the skin and muscles underneath eventually causing sagging. Always wash your hands before you touch your face, apply lotions, etc. If your face (or some part of it) feels oily in between regular washings, splash your face with warm water alone (no soap) and pat dry gently with a clean towel. Too much washing with soap will over-dry your skin causing irritation and extra oil production. Just rinsing will help remove light dirt and oil, tighten pores, and refresh your skin. If you have skin problems that don’t improve or get worse after you have followed this guide for 4-6 weeks, see a doctor. A dermatologist will definitely be able to help, so don’t be afraid to go to one!