6 Best Face Washes (& Cleansers) for Teens + Tweens [2020]
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6 Best Face Washes (& Cleansers) for Teens + Tweens

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best face wash teens
In a hurry? Here are our top picks:
BEST FOR SENSITIVE AND ACNE-PRONE SKIN ZELEN Life Cleanser
BEST FOR OILY AND COMBINATION SKIN TONYMOLY Vital Vita 12 Jelly Cleanser

 

Let’s face it. Teenage skin can be troublesome. So, it is important to use a face wash formulated with teenagers in mind and address the problems that plague their skin.

Hormonal acne and high sebum production are common in teen skin. To keep these problems under control, a suitable face wash or cleanser is a good starting point.

The best face wash for teens (and tweens) is out there, and the purpose of this review is to help you find yours.

Would you like to find out more?

Well, keep reading because, in this article, we have provided a detailed review of the 6 facial cleansers that made our list. We have shared each face washes’ best features, their pros and cons, and who they are most suitable for.

Before you buy, here are some useful pointers on what you should take into consideration:

Quick summary

bb2-table__imageZELEN Life Cleanser
  • Organic, gentle yet powerful formula, deep-cleansing action
  • Packed with vitamins and antioxidants
  • Suitable for sensitive and acne-prone skin, helps breakouts
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bb2-table__imageBoscia Clear Complexion Cleanser
  • Helps control blemishes
  • Gentle cleansing gel with exfoliating action
  • Unclogs pores and balances sebum
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bb2-table__imageTONYMOLY Vital Vita 12 Jelly Cleanser
  • Loaded with vitamins and odorless
  • Purifies skin, leaving a fresh look and feel
  • Great for removing makeup
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bb2-table__imageDermalogica Breakout Clearing Foaming Wash
  • Clears pores and reduces pore size
  • Helps acne breakouts
  • Lathers up nicely and leaves a smooth finish
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bb2-table__imageBioderma Sebium Foaming Gel Facial Cleanser for Combination to Oily Skin
  • Reduces sebum production on the skin
  • Hydration properties
  • Rich in antioxidants
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bb2-table__imageBilly Jealousy LiquidSand Exfoliating Facial Cleanser
  • Leaves skin moisturized and refreshed
  • Natural exfoliating formula
  • Helps eliminate blackheads
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Before you buy: 6 Things to consider when purchasing a face wash for teenage skin

Not many products are created for teen skin. Unlike adult skin, teen skin is softer and free of adult age-related issues. However, hormone production varies, so the skin undergoes many changes due to hormonal variations.

The skin is affected by these hormonal changes, such as follicle stimulation and sebum production, leading to acne breakouts. And so, teen skin requires formulas that are sensitive to these needs.

Before you decide to buy a face wash or cleanser for teenage skin, here are a few things to consider:

1. Teen skin type

Most teenagers tend to have oily or combination skin. The hormones tend to ramp up the sebum production, and the skin can become more oily or greasy. A gentle face wash or cleanser that removes the excess oil and controls sebum production can be beneficial.

For those with sensitive skin–a mild, chemical-free cleanser is more suitable. And for those with skin conditions like eczema or another dermatitis, an oil-based cleanser is more beneficial.

2. Having a skincare routine

Most teenagers are just starting their skincare journey and are yet to nail down a skincare routine. Skin preservation and preventing age-related issues are not at the forefront of a teenager’s mind. They have more pressing issues to deal with.

Yet, a skincare routine with a basic cleanser and moisturizer is a must for everyone. The cell’s machinery is optimum at this age, and having a skincare routine will go a long way in preventing fine lines and wrinkles as they won’t have to play catch up as most adults do.

3. Frequency of use

Since teenagers are trying to unclog pores and stave off acne, a cleanser must be used at least twice a day for optimum results.

4. Skin problems

One of the most common problems with teenage skin is hormonal acne. And now, there are products available that can help prevent and treat acne and its scars. The days of young people putting some toothpaste on their pimples are long gone.

Several formulas are aimed at staving off bacteria through their antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Various formulas will clear the pores of debris and gunk. Others will control sebum secreted by the sebaceous glands.

Some will exfoliate the skin. It all depends to what extent these issues affect the skin.

5. Budget

It is understood that teenagers will not spend a considerable chunk of change on a face wash unless they understand the importance of this investment.

It’s crucial to choose products that serve their purpose while being affordable and easily available to purchase.

6. Textures

Since every teenager has different grades of combination to oily skin, you must also consider what texture of face wash you want. Do you like a gel cleanser, or will a jelly-based face wash make you squirm?

There are various textures available, and depending on personal preference, it’s important to consider the texture.

7. Foaming vs. Non-foaming

There are face washes, and there are cleansers. Even among the face washes, not all of them are foaming. Some face washes lather up while others are thin and watery with no sudsy action at all.

For those who want to remove makeup or are looking for the soapy acting, you may want to pick a foaming face wash.

The 6 best face washes and cleansers for teens and tweens in 2020

We’ve searched and found the best cleansers and face washes formulated for teenage skin. With our selections, we have ensured there is something for everyone.

Here’s our list of the best in 2020.

1. ZELEN Life Cleanser

cleanser zelen life

Best features:

  • Gentle yet powerful cleansing action prevents breakouts
  • Organic formula provides antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Skin calming and brightening effect

The best face wash/cleanser for:

Teenage skin of all skin types, particularly those with sensitive skin or prone to hormonal acne and breakouts.

Overview:

The ZELEN Life Cleanser will provide a gentle yet powerful deep clean that works effectively for all skin types, especially teen skin. The cleanser has a natural formula packed with botanical ingredients that nourish the skin and prevent acne outbreaks. This cleanser will keep the skin free of dirt, oil, and grime.

Its organic oils penetrate the skin and give it a youthful glow. The cleanser is chemical-free, meaning it doesn’t contain parabens, sulfates, petrochemicals, synthetic colors, and fragrances.

It is suitable for teenagers as it doesn’t dry or irritate the skin. It also helps reduce that greasy look and shine. It contains vitamins, essential fatty acids, and a host of antioxidants that protect the skin and prevent any photodamage.

The key ingredients in this cleanser’s formula are aloe vera, sunflower, and jojoba. They work synergistically to unclog blocked pores, removing dirt, oil, and impurities without removing the necessary moisture and oils that keep your skin refreshed and invigorated.

While many face cleansers can dry out the skin, the ZELEN Life Cleanser boosts hydration that lasts all day.

Aloe vera helps restore the skin’s natural pH balance. It helps to reduce scarring, regenerate skin cells, and encourage cell development. Additionally, it’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, which calms inflamed areas and reduces itching.

Studies show that aloe vera mucilage includes compounds like vitamin E, vitamin C, and some amino acids, which play a role in accelerating wound healing by neutralizing free radicals in a wound site.[1][2]

Sunflower retains moisture to keep the skin hydrated for an extended period. It absorbs quickly and helps make skin less sensitive. It reduces redness while neutralizing free radicals and the damage they cause.

Jojoba also has many benefits, such as preventing the build-up of skin oil (sebum), speeding up the skin’s healing process, and fighting wrinkles.

This cleanser also contains vitamin C from lemon peel oil and, with other ingredients, removes impurities and clears clogged pores to leave fresh, pH-balanced skin. It also brightens the skin and has anti-aging compounds that promote an even skin tone.

The good:

  • Free from parabens, sulfates, silicones, mineral oil, petrochemicals, synthetic colors, fragrances, and cruelty
  • Non-greasy, hydrated look that lasts all-day
  • Handmade with plant-based ingredients
  • Vitamin and antioxidant-rich
  • Hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic
  • Cruelty-free, vegan, and eco-friendly

Things to think about:

  • Can mattify the skin
  • Does not contain SPF

Bottom line:

This is an excellent cleanser for teenagers with sensitive skin and who are prone to breakouts. Its organic formula moisturizes as it cleanses and does not strip the skin like many chemical-based face washes.

2. Boscia Clear Complexion Cleanser

Boscia Clear Complexion Cleanser

Best features:

  • Removes stubborn makeup and dirt build-up
  • Effectively exfoliates to unclog, purify pores without irritation
  • Gentle cleansing gel suitable for daily use

The best face wash/cleanser for:

Teenagers with blemish-prone skin and looking for a makeup remover.

Overview:

Boscia’s Clear Complexion Cleanser is a cleansing gel with a gentle action formulated specifically for blemish-prone skin. It effectively exfoliates to unclog and purify pores and minimizes blemishes, which help maintain a clear-looking complexion.

This foaming cleanser cleanses thoroughly without causing irritation or stripping the skin of moisture.

This ultra-refreshing cleansing gel is formulated with willow bark extract, a natural salicylic acid. Willow Bark works as a natural Beta Hydroxy Acid (Salicylic Acid) and refines the pores’ appearance.

It’s also why it is targeted towards blemish-prone skin. Willow Bark Extract minimizes dark spots from previous breakouts.

Rosemary leaf extract aids in circulation and acts as a natural, effective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredient. Studies have shown that ethanolic rosemary extract significantly suppressed the secretion and expression of proinflammatory cytokines.[3]

Geranium Extract boosts the circulation, balances the production of sebum, and helps improve skin elasticity.

Boscia’s signature “double cleansing” method ensures a perfectly clean slate. It’s a two-step process that ensures all impurities and debris are removed for a complexion that’s as clean as can be.

The first step involves makeup and removal by deep cleansing to dissolve all the grime on the skin’s surface. The second step involves cleansing the skin using this water-based cleanser, which dives deep into the pores.

The good:

  • Contains natural BHA (salicylic acid)
  • Minimizes blemishes and dark spots
  • Balances the production of sebum
  • Improves skin elasticity

Things to think about:

  • Can dry out the skin and make it flaky

Bottom line:

This is a great face wash for those teens who have very blemish-prone skin and wish for a natural salicylic acid option.

3. TONYMOLY Vital Vita 12 Jelly Cleanser

TONYMOLY Vital Vita 12 Jelly Cleanser

Best features:

  • Odorless and 12 vitamins rich
  • Lathers well, and a little goes a long way
  • Maintains moisture

The best face wash/cleanser for:

Teens with oily and combination skin.

Overview:

TONYMOLY’s Vital Vita 12 Jelly Cleanser has an efficient formula that instantly dissolves dirt, excess surface residue, and makeup (if needed). It clears pores of any impurities without removing the skin’s natural oils, leaving skin soft and hydrated.

This powerful cleanser contains a unique blend of chlorella and spirulina, which are superfoods for the body. Numerous studies have shown that marine algae extracts like chlorella and algal carbohydrates help skin issues like hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, dry skin disorders, skin inflammation, and skin carcinoma.[4]

Spirulina also contains C-phycocyanin (C-PC), a major biliprotein with antioxidants and radical fighting properties.[5]

This jelly cleanser consists of the Vita-12 multi-vitamin compound. It uses nanosome technology to combine 12 types of vitamins, namely A, B1, B3, B5, B6, B8, B12, C, E, F, H, to create an effective multi-vitamin blend that targets a wide variety of skin issues.

The good:

  • Leaves skin feeling clean and refreshed
  • Packed with a long list of vitamins
  • Powerful action quickly dissolves impurities and removes makeup

Things to think about:

  • May cause an acne breakout
  • Has a slimy consistency

Bottom line:

This is a great face wash for those with an oily T-zone and combination skin that also wants to remove heavy makeup, fast!

4. Dermalogica Breakout Clearing Foaming Wash

Dermalogica Breakout Clearing Foaming Wash

Best features:

  • Clears out acne breakouts
  • Reduces pore size
  • Soothing effect

The best face wash/cleanser for:

Teenagers with very large pores and whiteheads.

Overview:

Dermalogica’s Breakout Clearing Foaming Wash is an acne cleanser that foams and clears away dead skin cells. It also absorbs excess oils that cause future breakouts.

Salicylic acid goes deep into the pores clearing skin cells and trapped oils to wipe out existing breakouts. It is also effective against acne-causing bacteria.

In three placebo-controlled studies and a comedolytic assay, it has been demonstrated that salicylic acid reduces the number of primary acne lesions. It can thus reduce the severity of all lesions associated with acne.[6]

This face wash can help soothe irritated skin. The 8 botanicals included in this formula, such as tea tree, lavender, and camellia sinensis, are known to gently soothe and calm irritated skin.

Also, orange peel extract revives, energizes, and refreshes the skin’s appearance. The citrus peel contains poly methoxy flavonoids (PMFs) as a major ingredient of anti-inflammatory activity. Orange peel extract, in particular, has a very high concentration of PMFs that provide useful protection against or alleviation of UV damage.[7]

This face wash is highly proficient at clearing away dead cells and excess oils as it unclogs pores and soothes the skin.

The good:

  • Lathers well and protects against UV radiation
  • Leaves skin very smooth
  • Unclogs pores

Things to think about:

  • Can increase acne in some
  • Can make the skin look greasy

Bottom line:

This is a good face wash for teens with very large visible pores.

5. Bioderma Sebium Foaming Gel Facial Cleanser for Combination to Oily Skin

Bioderma Sebium Foaming Gel Facial Cleanser for Combination to Oily Skin

Best features:

  • Reduces pore size
  • Decreases sebum production

The best face wash/cleanser for:

Teen skin of a greasy/oily appearance.

Overview:

Bioderma’s Sebium Foaming Gel Facial Cleanser is specially designed for combination to oily skin. The Sébium Foaming Gel gently cleanses and purifies your skin without drying it out.

It contains a patented D.A.F complex that contributes to improving the tolerance threshold of your skin. In this complex is Ginkgo Biloba extract and fructooligosaccharides.

Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are oligosaccharides that occur naturally in plants like onion, chicory, garlic, asparagus, banana, and artichoke. According to some studies, they can provide an increase in antioxidant defenses.[8]

Ginkgo biloba also has many antioxidant properties. Trials have shown they can halt the progression of vitiligo and hyperpigmentation disorders.[9]

Apply on wet skin, work into foam, then rinse well and gently dry. It can be used in the morning and/or evening.

The good:

  • Good for oily and combination skin
  • Hydrates the skin
  • Antioxidant-rich to delay and free radical damage

Things to think about:

  • Can cause red patches. Do a skin test first.
  • Contains sulfates

Bottom line:

This is a very good face wash for teens with oily and combination skin, especially those with excess sebum production.

6. Billy Jealousy LiquidSand Exfoliating Facial Cleanser

Billy Jealousy LiquidSand Exfoliating Facial Cleanser

Best features:

  • Exfoliating facewash with silica
  • Removes blackheads

The best face wash/cleanser for:

Teenage skin with blackheads looking for natural exfoliation.

Overview:

Billy Jealousy’s LiquidSand Exfoliating Facial Cleanser is less penetrating than a scrub but more powerful than a face wash. It cleans thoroughly to remove dirt and related grime, prepping the skin for a less irritating shave.

It exfoliates dead surface skin cells and nourishes skin while improving luminosity. It also reduces the appearance of fine lines.

You can keep the skin clean and soft by exfoliating the top layer of dead surface skin cells that quickly build up over time. It polishes and smooths skin without over-drying, revealing fresher, healthier skin underneath.

Dirt and oil can get trapped in pores, and so removal of this can prevent acne. Exfoliating flushes out the clogged pores. It also slows down the aging process by removing older skin cells, which delay the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Why LiquidSand?

It won’t over-dry the skin, has no plastic beads, does not have any colorants or SLS. This award-winning formula is safe for all skin types and is made in the USA. It is approved by PETA and is cruelty-free.

LiquidSand works thanks to the alpha hydroxy acids (AHA), lactic acid. It has the greatest moisture-retaining properties and is the gentlest. It’s naturally-derived and encourages cell turnover, which improves skin tone and texture. It can also improve skin smoothness and the appearance of lines and wrinkles.[10]

It also helps in repairing photodamage from the sun. Lactic acid both softens skin and helps prevent acne breakouts. Studies have shown that treatment with as much as 12% lactic acid causes an increased epidermal and dermal firmness and thickness.

This face wash also contains licorice root extract and quillaja saponaria bark extract.

Licorice root extracts protect the skin against oxidative stress, accelerate wound closure, and efficiently reduce atopic dermatitis symptoms.[11]

In the cosmetic industry, quillaja saponaria bark extract has a wide range of uses, such as cleansing, moisturizing, skin conditioning, and antidandruff.[12] This is thanks to the saponins and triterpenoids it contains.

The good:

  • No plastic beads
  • Keeps the skin hydrated and supple
  • Makes the skin look luminous

Things to think about:

  • Contains parabens

Bottom line:

This is a useful face wash for teens with blackheads who are looking for a face wash with an exfoliating action.


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How we chose these products

As we searched for the best face washes and cleansers for teen skin, we considered suitable ingredients. We focused our search on formulas rich in essential oils, leaf and seed extracts, and other ingredients that especially controlled sebum production.

Some even have unusual ingredients like marine algae, chlorella, and spirulina. Most of the products on this list can unclog pores and clear dead cells since this is a common issue with teenage skin.

The products that made our list are all tried and trusted at removing impurities and ridding the skin of dirt and grime. Some even have exfoliating properties for those with uneven skin and dermal build-up. For those with blackheads and whiteheads, many of these products can help with breakouts.

In some cases, where the pores are large and visible, some formulas reduce pore size. Since acne is common in teenage skin, many of the formulas have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activity.

We did consider that some teenagers might be looking for an all-inclusive cleanser that removes makeup, and a few of our choices do dissolve makeup.

We considered a variety of textures like gel-based cleansers, foam-based cleansers, and even jelly-like consistencies.

We chose a formula for every skin type and researched each product to see how well it did on teen skin. For those with sensitive skin, several products are all-natural and made from organic ingredients.

We also chose products that have antioxidants, promote photo-protection and depigmentation activity. This is because teenagers may not be thinking about sunscreen and other moisturizers to prevent damage. And so many of these formulas are dual-acting.

Finally, we also considered the budget. We chose a range of products that won’t cause a huge dent in the pocket.

Our extensive research and selection process ensured that there is something for everyone on this list.

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

What is a face wash?

A face wash or cleanser is a formula that is meant to cleanse your skin and remove dirt, grime, makeup, epidermal build up.

What is the difference between a face wash and a cleanser?

A cleanser is more like a gel consistency. It does not have any foaming or soap action. It cleanses but also hydrates and moisturizes the skin. A face wash can be foaming or non-foaming. The foaming varieties lather and feel more like soap.

When should a teenager start using a face wash?

The earlier, the better. As soon as changes become apparent in teen skin, from normal or dry to oily and combination, a face wash is needed.

A teenager who has displayed signs of a growth spurt like change in height, facial hair, menstrual changes, etc., then it is is the right time to consider starting a skincare regimen.

This will counteract any bacteria in the skin and also pre-emptively tackle any acne before it gets full-blown. If acne is already present, look for face washes specifically formulated to target acne and have antibacterial activity.

How do I use a face wash for teenagers?

Start by using it twice a day and decide if that’s enough to keep sebum production under control. Twice a day should be sufficient.

After cleansing the face, apply a suitable moisturizer depending on the skin type. Preferably, apply the moisturizer while the skin is still damp from the wash.

What if a breakout develops?

If using an exfoliating face wash, it is possible a breakout can develop in the first week of use. This is because, as the fresh skin is revealed, many underlying pores filled with bacteria and dirt will rise to the surface.

If this breakout continues even after one week of use, stop the face wash and then consult a dermatologist about other appropriate alternatives. Also, review the ingredient list to check for any allergic reactions.

What to do in case of an allergic reaction?

Halt the face wash—ice any inflamed, red patches and rashes. If itching and pain develop, seek medical help. You might need medical treatment to reduce the inflammation.

Conclusion

The best face wash for teens (and tweens) is out there. It does take some searching. And all of them tend to have many similar characteristics.

Compare the differences by taking into account the key ingredients and their benefits.

Are you a teenager, or are you a parent of a teenager? What do you think is the best face wash for teenage skin?

If it is not on our list, let us know, and we might consider adding it!

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References

  1. Kashanian M., Lakeh M. M., Ghasemi A., Noori S. Evaluation of vitamin E’s effect on pelvic pain reduction in women suffering from primary dysmenorrhea. Journal of Reproductive Medicine. 2013;58(1-2):34–38.
  2. Hajhashemi V., Ghannadi A., Heidari A. H. Anti-inflammatory and wound healing activities of Aloe littoralis in rats. Research in Pharmaceutical Sciences. 2012;7(2):73–78.
  3. Tsai TH, Chuang LT, Lien TJ, Liing YR, Chen WY, Tsai PJ. Rosmarinus officinalis extract suppresses Propionibacterium acnes-induced inflammatory responses. J Med Food. 2013;16(4):324-333. doi:10.1089/jmf.2012.2577
  4. Kim JH, Lee JE, Kim KH, Kang NJ. Beneficial Effects of Marine Algae-Derived Carbohydrates for Skin Health. Mar Drugs. 2018;16(11):459. Published 2018 Nov 21. doi:10.3390/md16110459
  5. Karkos PD, Leong SC, Karkos CD, Sivaji N, Assimakopoulos DA. Spirulina in clinical practice: evidence-based human applications. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:531053. doi:10.1093/ecam/nen058
  6. Zander E, Weisman S. Treatment of acne vulgaris with salicylic acid pads. Clin Ther. 1992 Mar-Apr;14(2):247-53. PMID: 1535287.
  7. Yoshizaki N, Fujii T, Masaki H, Okubo T, Shimada K, Hashizume R. Orange peel extract, containing high levels of polymethoxyflavonoid, suppressed UVB-induced COX-2 expression and PGE2 production in HaCaT cells through PPAR-γ activation. Exp Dermatol. 2014 Oct;23 Suppl 1:18-22. doi: 10.1111/exd.12394. PMID: 25234831.
  8. Franco-Robles E, López MG. Implication of fructans in health: immunomodulatory and antioxidant mechanisms. ScientificWorldJournal. 2015;2015:289267. doi:10.1155/2015/289267
  9. Szczurko O, Shear N, Taddio A, Boon H. Ginkgo biloba for the treatment of vitilgo vulgaris: an open label pilot clinical trial. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011;11:21. Published 2011 Mar 15. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-21
  10. Smith WP. Epidermal and dermal effects of topical lactic acid. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1996 Sep;35(3 Pt 1):388-91. doi: 10.1016/s0190-9622(96)90602-7. PMID: 8784274.
  11. Ciganović P, Jakimiuk K, Tomczyk M, Zovko Končić M. Glycerolic Licorice Extracts as Active Cosmeceutical Ingredients: Extraction Optimization, Chemical Characterization, and Biological Activity. Antioxidants (Basel). 2019;8(10):445. Published 2019 Oct 1. doi:10.3390/antiox8100445
  12. Fleck JD, Betti AH, da Silva FP, et al. Saponins from Quillaja saponaria and Quillaja brasiliensis: Particular Chemical Characteristics and Biological Activities. Molecules. 2019;24(1):171. Published 2019 Jan 4. doi:10.3390/molecules24010171

About The Author

Dr. Pamela Q. Fernandes
Dr. Pamela Q. Fernandes

Pamela Q. Fernandes is a doctor and medical writer. Born and raised in Kuwait, she graduated from Angeles University College of Medicine, Philippines in 2007. Soon after that, she started her career as a medical writer and physician. Pamela is an advocate of preventive health, rural medicine, women’s health and tele-medicine having been active in these roles for the majority of her decade long career in medicine. As a seasoned medical writer, she has worked with many medical publishing houses and doctors, as well as pharmaceuticals, hospitals and practices. She specializes in training material for doctors and patient education material. As an academic writer, she is a qualified writer of articles for medical journals, case reports and medical presentations.

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