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As adolescents embark on their journey toward adulthood, formulators in the skincare industry face the intricate task of creating effective solutions that combat acne while being gentle on young, sensitive skin. But before revealing some of the natural ingredients to consider in your formulation, here's a quick crash course on what happens with our (facial) skin when we hit the age of puberty. Or, jump straight into the natural ingredients section by clicking here.

Why does the skin change during puberty?

During puberty, significant hormonal changes occur in the body, which can have a direct impact on the skin. These changes primarily involve an increase in androgens such as testosterone. Androgens play a crucial role in the development of acne-prone and inflamed skin during puberty:

  • Increased sebum production: Androgens stimulate the sebaceous glands in the skin to produce more sebum (oil). Although sebum is essential for keeping the skin hydrated, an excessive amount of it can clog hair follicles and lead to acne.
  • Keratinization: Also known as cornification, keratinization is set off by an increase of androgens. Skin cells become more sticky and tend to clump together, blocking hair follicles and contributing to the formation of comedones (clogged pores).
  • Inflammation: When the hair follicles become clogged with sebum and dead skin cells, they can become inflamed. This inflammation is a key characteristic of acne. The body's immune system response to this inflammation can further exacerbate redness, swelling, and irritation.

All of these factors combined create an environment in the skin that is more prone to acne formation during puberty. With many teenagers having sensitive and delicate skin, which can react adversely to harsh or irritating ingredients, you'll need to strike a balance between effectiveness and gentleness

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Why use natural ingredients in products for acne-prone skin?

As a formulator, you'll want to use ingredients that are gentle for the skin for several important reasons. 

  • Minimizing irritation: Acne-prone and inflamed skin is often already sensitive and prone to redness and discomfort. Gentle natural ingredients are less likely to cause further inflammation, making them suitable for individuals with sensitive or easily aggravated skin.
  • Reducing side effects: Harsh ingredients can sometimes lead to side effects like dryness, discomfort, or excessive redness. When formulated with care, natural ingredients are less likely to cause these adverse reactions.
  • Long-term use: Skincare routines are typically ongoing, and products that are gentle on the skin can be used consistently over time without causing cumulative damage or discomfort.
  • Consumer preference: A growing number of consumers are seeking natural and "clean" beauty products. Formulating with gentle natural ingredients aligns with consumer preferences and ethical considerations.


Nature's acne foes: The gentle power of natural ingredients in skincare

There are several natural ingredients that can be used in anti-acne and soothing skincare products that are known for their gentle yet effective properties. These ingredients can help promote clearer skin without causing excessive irritation. Here are some natural ingredients to add to your formulations:

  • Witch hazelOften used as a natural astringent, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) is commonly used for its potent antioxidants and soothing properties. For cosmetics, witch hazel functions as a skin conditioning agent by enhancing the appearance of dry and damaged skin. Some of the more common uses for this ingredient include acne and inflammatory conditions.
    Request a sample: Organic Witch Hazel 86% by Praan Naturals
  • Aloe vera: Gel made of this plant is known for its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. It can help calm irritated skin and promote healing.
    Request a sample: Organic Aloe Vera Juice by Sollice Biotech
  • Chamomile: Praised for its soothing effect, chamomile has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can help reduce redness and irritation. Chamomile extract or tea can be used in cleansers, toners, or as a compress.
    Request a sample: Chamomile water by Dermalab
  • Oatmeal: Colloidal oatmeal is a gentle exfoliant that can soothe and moisturize the skin. It is often used in masks or cleansers for sensitive and acne-prone skin.
    Request a sample: Oatmeal (avena sativa) cellular extract by Native Extracts
  • Salicylic acid (from willow bark): Willow bark extract contains natural salicylic acid, which can help exfoliate the skin and unclog pores.
    Request a sample: Salicylic Acid USP by McKinley Resources
  • Tea tree: Tea tree oil has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, which can be effective against acne-causing bacteria. It is often added to spot treatment products, or included in cleansers and toners. However, it should be used in moderation as it can be drying if overused.
    Request a sample: Tea tree oil by Essencia

While using natural ingredients in skincare, it's always important to be aware of potential allergies or sensitivities, and clearly mark the ingredients you use on your products. 

🌟 Tip: Ingredients certified by these and other natural certifications can easily be found on Covalo by using our filters. Just open the "Certifications" drop-down menu and select the certification you're looking for! Start your search here.

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Navigating regulations: When can you claim that your products are natural?

Compliance with regulations is an absolute must in the beauty industry, and products targeted towards teenagers and adolescents are no exception. However, it is important to note that there is currently no official regulation or universally accepted criteria for defining "natural" in both Europe and the US. While cosmetic product claims must comply with existing legislation, there is no clear interpretation of how these claims can be made without misleading consumers.

This is where certification and standards play a crucial role, as they provide a means of guaranteeing consumers that products meet specific criteria for being considered natural. Certification serves as a symbol of trust, assuring consumers that the products not only contain natural ingredients, but also adhere to ethical and environmental principles. It is a vital aspect for both formulators and consumers, ensuring that natural skincare products maintain their integrity and reliability. Here are some certification bodies to keep in mind:

  • NATRUECreated in 2008, NATRUE's mission is "to protect and promote natural and organic cosmetics to the benefit of consumers worldwide". They only allow the highest level of natural and organic ingredients to be NATRUE certified.
  • COSMOS: The COSMOS standard is widely recognized as a prestigious international certification for cosmetics. It provides comprehensive guidelines for every aspect of cosmetic products, including sourcing, manufacturing, marketing, and quality control. By adhering to the rigorous standards set by COSMOS, formulators can ensure that their products meet the highest level of integrity and sustainability.
  • ISO 16128: The ISO standard serves as a global benchmark for defining organic and natural products, offering comprehensive guidelines for the technical definitions and criteria of cosmetics ingredients and products. It establishes a framework to ensure that natural and organic cosmetics meet the highest standards of authenticity and quality.


Empowering confidence: How you can make a difference

In the journey to create effective skincare products for teens and adolescents combatting acne, formulators face a myriad of challenges. From the delicate balance of effectiveness and gentleness to the complexities of hormonal changes, crafting the right solutions requires both science and empathy. As we navigate these challenges, it’s important to remember that addressing acne in this demographic isn’t just about clearer skin; it’s about supporting the physical and emotional well-being during a transformative period of their lives. By understanding their unique needs and creating products that resonate with them, formulators can empower teenagers to embark on a path towards healthy, confident, and radiant skin.

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