SPOTTY skin is the scourge of many teenage lives and its damaging impact can still sometimes be felt many years into adulthood.
But teenage skin problems like acne or eczema don't just leave unsightly blemishes on the body - they can also cause deep emotional distress. Karen Williams, fashion and beauty editor of Mizz magazine, says: "It's a really impressionable time of their lives. Teenagers become conscious of the opposite sex, feelings and how they look."
However, often adolescents are forced to put up with skin problems rather than try and find solutions for their own skin type. So amid all the conflicting myths and trendy marketing jargon which advice should teenagers follow? Sally Penford, education manager at the International Dermal Institute, says: "Using a product won't damage your skin. It's when you use 10 different brands together with all sorts of different ingredients that haven't been tested to work together.
Avoid soap, harsh products that strip the skin and never pick spots or you'll be scarred for life."
The idea that spots are caused by dirty skin is another myth Spotty teenagers are usually so self-conscious they keep their skin really clean.
Eating chocolate won't cause acne either because it is a genetically inherited disease.
One of the differences between acne and normal spots is the persistency of breakouts. They appear day after day and are spread all over the face - not just an occasional blip.
Breakouts occur when sebum, an oily substance secreted by the body to lubricate the hair and skin, becomes trapped under dead skin cells and infected by bacteria.
Acne sufferers should see their doctor and get medical treatment, while a basic skincare routine could make all the difference.
Start with a clay-based cleanser to wash the skin and absorb excess oil. The cleanser needs to have a balance of ph 4.5-5.5, the same ph as your skin, and it should be water soluble so it can be rinsed off. Follow this up with a very light, predominantly water-based moisturiser to seal and protect the skin. If you use cover-up, look for the words non-comedogenic.
The blight and misery acne can cause is something teenagers feel acutely - but eczema can be just as damaging for self-confidence.
There is the constant desire to itch dry, red patches of skin. Use a ph balanced gel or milkbased cleanser and protective hydrating creams.
Look for ingredients like essential oils such as Evening Primrose Oil, essential fatty acids and Vitamin B5 and E to repair and heal the skin.
Dermatique has a great range for dry or sensitised skin which includes essential fatty acids and vitamins A, E and F. The Upset Skin Care Routine includes Recuperating Cream (pounds 22) and After Care Lotion (pounds 18).
The range was developed to help eczema sufferers and has a growing number of devoted clients. Phone 0800 035 0235 for mail order or check the website www. dermatique. co. uk.
Clinique has an Anti-Blemish Solutions range including Cleansing Foam (pounds 11), Clear Blemish Gel (pounds 9.50), Night-Time Gel (pounds 9.50) and Concealing Cream (pounds 9.50).
Quinoderm specialises in treating teenage skin and has a three-step remedy starting with a Facewash (pounds 3.49), Facial Cleanser (pounds 3.49) and Cream (pounds 4.39), with Quinoderm 5 Cream (pounds 3.90) designed for more sensitive skin.
Alternatively Garnier Synergie's Pure Deep Clean Foaming Wash (pounds 4.99) is a great way to give teenage skin a thorough cleanse.
The Clearasil range is also aimed at teenage skin with a Complete Facewash (pounds 4.35), Medicated Lotions for sensitive and greasy skin (pounds 3.49), Medicated Cover Stick (pounds 3.99) and the Biactol Antibacterial Facewash range (pounds 3.49).
Get rid of that oily sheen with the Boots No7 Matt Perfect range including Clarifying Cleanser (pounds 4.75), 8 Hour Moisture Fluid (pounds 6) and No Shine Tonic (pounds 4.75). Clarins also do a Multi Matt range with a Purifying Cleansing Gel (pounds 12.50), Day Control (pounds 14) and Normalising Night Gel (pounds 14).
For a quick, no-fuss spot remedy try the Synergie Express Impurity Patch (pounds 5.99) which you apply overnight directly on the spot to get rid of excess sebum and bacteria.
The 3-in-1 Wipes (pounds 4.29) are a quick way to cleanse the face while you are on the move.
Both products are available at Boots or Superdrug. With so many products there is bound to be one that suits your skin and fits your price range. So stop fretting and remember - beauty is only skin deep.
IT'S NOT FAIR: Teenage spots