8 back to school skincare tips

Bite back-to-school breakouts in the butt with these tips to help stop stress acne.

Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar

Stephanie Papanikolas
Aug 18, 2021 · 5 min read

Back To School For Teens
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

It’s the end of our first (and hopefully only) shot girl summer. For those of us heading back to classrooms soon, it’s bittersweet. Meeting new people when you hit the books is life-changing, but let’s be real: it’s nerve-wracking in a normal year, yet alone the 508th day of March 2020. 

Now that it’s time for the fall semesters to kick off, back-to-school stress is more real than ever. You got this! Be extra nice to yourself during this time of transition by adding some fun self-care activities to help you thrive.

Back To School Checklist Infographic

It’s also not unusual to see an uptick in breakouts this time of year. But don’t fret! Though it can take patience and persistence to clear acne, a minimalist skincare routine can help.

Can stress cause acne? 

Simply put, yes. Stress can trigger acne because hormones link the two. When a stress response occurs, hormones called androgens ramp up. Then, those hormones stimulate the skin’s oil production, which can ultimately lead to breakouts

Keep in mind that other factors play a role in acne (like bacteria and clogged pores), too. Most of the time, just feeling tense won’t cause acne by itself. But when combined with other triggers, you might find the perfect storm for a stress-related breakout when you’re already worried about starting a new school year.   

But enough about hormonal fluctuations—ask your bio prof what they think about androgens if you wanna know more! 

8 ways to help manage stress and your skin

We get it. Stress can feed acne. Acne can feed stress. Over it? Same. 

Let’s get off this funky merry-go-round of bad vibes by cultivating a healthy body and mind. After all, a new school year is a fresh start. 

Back to school skincare tips for teens

1. Practice a routine. 

That summer vacay inertia is real, so start getting into the groove in the weeks leading up to the first day of school. Getting enough sleep, exercising, and practicing a simple AM/PM skincare routine can add a satisfying rhythm to your days. 

Establishing a skincare routine is essential to treating acne, even if it’s a simple 3-step routine. To get in the habit, try practicing your skincare when you brush your teeth—once in the morning and once at night. And don’t forget to apply (and re-apply) sunscreen

2. Carry a notebook.

Planners are useful for keeping track of big tests and due dates. Keeping a notebook is not only a great way to stay organized, but it can benefit your mental health. Put a bullet journal on your back-to-school shopping supplies list if you’re looking for an effective way to organize your personal chaos. 

3. Use pore-friendly products.

Skincare, body care, hair care, and makeup can all contribute to breakouts, depending on what’s in them. It’s worth it to check your ingredients—thankfully, the internet has made it so you don’t need a biochemistry degree to understand your product’s label. 

4. Get sleep. 

Jitters the night before the first day of school are normal, but no one wants to be the kid who was clearly in deep REM 15 minutes before first period. Sleeping well can help your skin health (it’s called beauty rest for a reason), not to mention your physical and mental health. 

If you’re having trouble falling asleep at night, skip doomscrolling and read a good book instead. Research shows that screen time can lead to insomnia, while just 12 minutes of reading can help your body get better rest. 

5. Use blotting papers. 

Remember how we said stress can ramp up your oil production? Be prepared! Throw some oil-blotting papers in your backpack—they’ll help keep your skin feeling fresh. Blotting papers won’t smudge makeup, if you’re a makeup-wearing kinda guy! 

6. Rinse after workouts. 

Whether you’re going for varsity or learning to roller skate, consistent exercise is another self-care routine staple. When regularly working up a serious sweat, you might see an uptick in breakouts (especially body breakouts). 

Basically: physical fitness doesn’t cause acne, but the combination of moisture and friction can irritate skin, leading to breakouts. Be sure to rinse off after workouts and change out of sweat-soaked clothes!

7. Eat mindfully. 

Just like stress, our diets can impact our hormones, which may trigger acne in some people. Let’s be clear: we’d never ask you to give up your favorite comfort food during your time of need. But making it a point to get all the nutrients your unique body needs can make a positive difference in your daily life. 

Do you suspect your midnight ice cream habit is breaking you out? There’s evidence that dairy, sugar, and certain carbs may trigger acne—but it’s not one-size-fits-all. May we all one day live in a world where flawless skin and extra cheese can coexist peacefully. 

8. Don’t touch inflamed skin. 

One last skincare tip for the road: if you’re breaking out or dealing with any kind of skin inflammation, don’t touch it. Okay, we know, we all do it without thinking. But squeezing, popping, and picking away at your skin only hurts you. Just slap a hydrocolloid bandage on there and forget about it! 

Curology bottle in blue locker with hand reaching to pick it up

Hormonal acne, meet your match

Get no-hassle skincare designed by dermatologists to help treat your unique breakouts. Just tell us about your skin and send a few selfies. Then, a dermatology provider licensed to practice in your state can create a Custom Formula for your skin’s needs. If Curology is right for you, your first month is on us!

Custom superbottle for breakouts | Free Trial button

Your first bottle of Custom Formula is free, and you can try our other recommended products (like our cleanser and moisturizer) for no extra cost. You’ll just pay $4.95 (plus tax) to cover the cost of shipping and handling.* Curology is simple: just dermatologist-designed skincare products with everything your skin needs and nothing extra. 

• • •

We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.

Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).

*Cancel anytime. Subject to consultation. Subscription is required. Trial is 30 days + $4.95 shipping and handling.

Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar

Stephanie Papanikolas

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