If your TikTok “For You” page is anything like mine, chances are you have seen plenty of TikTokers complaining about preteens at their local beauty store. These “Sephora kids” have taken to popular brands like Drunk Elephant, a company known for their (rather expensive) skincare products. These children have been accused of making a mess, disrupting other customers and creating dangerous skincare “smoothies.” But how much of this is kids just being kids? Who should we point the finger at: Gen-Alpha, their parents or society as a whole? For the first time, we are forced to consider who should be using skincare and how.
Many TikTokers have turned the blame onto the parents. However, while parenting is definitely a huge factor in kids’ behavior, this seems to be indicative of a larger problem. It’s no surprise that society has often made young girls and women feel somehow lesser than, a trend which has only been made worse with the rise of social media. But 10-year-olds buying anti-aging products seems to be a new low. The reality is that kids nowadays have access to the world much earlier than any generation before them. With this freedom comes the pressure to fit in, which means they feel the need to have the newest products, amazing skin and the perfect skincare routine.
Not only is this societal pressure bad for young kids’ self-esteem, but dermatologists are warning it is also bad for their skin. Dr. Brooke Jeffy discussed an 11-year-old patient who experienced a pronounced rash around her eyes due to retinol, an anti-aging ingredient. “This rash had been going on for so long and was so intense, it’s probably going to take at least a month, if not more, to totally resolve,” Jeffy says. “All for trying to use an anti-aging product that she doesn’t need.”
Jeffy and other dermatologists have shown us that using these products is not harmless fun, it is detrimental to their health.
It’s not new for kids to want the hottest product. It’s not new for kids to want to be like the older teens and adults they see, but this has been taken to a whole new level. Some online users have defended the pre-teens, arguing that skin care is a practice of self-love, something we should be encouraging. Skincare routines can be a wonderful way to take a few moments for yourself and feel refreshed and ready for the day. However, it’s important that the products we use are appropriate for our skin and that our desire to use them comes from a place of self-love. For both the “Sephora kids” and the adults reading this, skincare should not be about the newest product. Make skin care an act of self love by focusing on spending a few minutes with yourself, keeping your skin healthy and clean, and becoming the best version of yourself, not copying an influencer or celebrity.