Puberty causes all kinds of changes in your body. Your skin and scalp may suddenly
get oily very easily. Every day it seems you have new hair growing in different places.
At times, you seem to sweat for no reason — and you may notice there are odors
where you never had them before. What should you do about it?
These bodily changes are a normal part of becoming an adult. Still, some of them
can be a real source of anxiety. Who wants to worry about whether their underarms
Read below for information on some hygiene basics — and learn how to deal
with greasy hair, perspiration, and body hair.
The hormones that create acne are the same ones that can make you feel like you're
suddenly styling your hair with a comb dipped in motor oil. Each strand of hair has
its own sebaceous (oil) gland, which keeps the hair shiny and waterproof. But during
puberty, when the sebaceous glands produce extra oil, it can make your hair look too
shiny, oily, and greasy.
Washing your hair every day or every other day can help control oily hair. Dozens
of shampoos are available in drugstores and supermarkets for you to choose from —
most brands are pretty similar, although you might want to try one that is specially
formulated for oily hair. Use warm water and a small amount of shampoo to work up
a lather. Don't scrub or rub too hard — this doesn't get rid of oil any better
and can irritate your scalp or damage your hair. After you've rinsed, you can follow
up with a conditioner if you like; again, one for oily hair might work best.
When you're styling your hair, pay close attention to the products you use. Some
styling gels or lotions can add extra grease to your hair, which defeats the purpose
of washing it in the first place! Look for formulas that say "greaseless" or
Sweat and Body Odor
Perspiration, or sweat, comes from sweat glands that you've always had in your
body. But thanks to puberty, these glands not only become more active than before,
they also begin to secrete different chemicals into the sweat that has a stronger
smelling odor. You might notice this odor under your arms in your armpits. Your feet
and genitals might also have new smells.
The best way to keep clean is to bathe or shower every day using a mild soap and
warm water. This will help wash away any bacteria that contribute to the smells. Wearing
clean clothes, socks, and underwear each day can also help you to feel clean. If you
sweat a lot, you might find that shirts, T-shirts, socks, and underwear made from
cotton or other natural materials will help absorb sweat more effectively.
If you're concerned about the way your underarms smell, you can try using a deodorant
or deodorant with antiperspirant. Deodorants get rid of the odor of sweat by covering
it up, and antiperspirants actually stop or dry up perspiration. They come in sticks,
roll-ons, gels, sprays, and creams and are available at any drugstore or supermarket.
All brands are similar (and ones that say they're made for a man or for a woman are
similar, too, except for some perfumes that are added).
If you choose to use deodorant or antiperspirant, be sure to read the directions.
Some work better if you use them at night, whereas others recommend that you put them
on in the morning. But keep in mind that some teens don't need deodorants or antiperspirants.
So why use them if you don't have to? Deodorant and antiperspirant commercials may
try to convince you that you'll have no friends or dates if you don't use their product,
but if you don't think you smell and you take daily baths or showers and wear clean
clothes, you may be fine without them.
Body hair in new places is something you can count on — again, it's hormones
in action. You may want to start shaving some places where body hair grows, but whether
you do is up to you. Some guys who grow facial hair like to let it develop into a
mustache and beard. Some girls may decide to leave the hair on their legs and under
their arms as is. It's all up to you and what you feel comfortable with.
If you do decide to shave, whether you're a guy or girl, you have a few different
choices. You can use a traditional razor with a shaving cream or gel or you can use
an electric razor. If you use a regular razor, make sure the blade is new and sharp
to prevent cuts and nicks. Shaving cream and gel are often a better bet than soap
because they make it easier to pull the razor against your skin. Some of the newer
razors contain shaving gel right in the blade area, making even beginners feel comfortable
Whether you're shaving your legs, armpits, or face, go slowly. These are tricky
areas of your body with lots of curves and angles, and it's easy to cut yourself if
you move too fast. An adult or older sibling can be a big help when you're learning
to shave. Don't be afraid to ask for tips.
You might want to avoid shaving your pubic hair because when it grows back in,
the skin may be irritated and itchy. Also, guys may think twice about shaving their
chests, and girls should avoid shaving their faces because the stubble that grows
back will look prickly and thicker, forcing you to shave over and over.
If you're a girl and you're worried about hairs on your upper lip, step back from
the mirror and you may see that the hair everyone really sees is probably not as bad
as you think.
If you do decide you want to get rid of unwanted facial hair, research the options
and ask an adult or older sibling for advice. Many products are made for facial hair
— everything from bleach that lessens its appearance to hair removers that are
specially made for hair on the face. And some new oil-free facial moisturizers on
the market contain substances to make facial hair softer and less visible. You may
want to try one before you opt for bleaching or hair removal.
In the rare case where a girl's facial hair growth is enough to cause anxiety,
a dermatologist or skin specialist can use permanent removal techniques such as electrolysis.
In some cases, excess hair growth in girls can be a sign of a medical condition, like
polycystic ovary syndrome.
If you're a girl who is worried about hair growth, talk to your doctor.