If you have been in a Sephora in the last six months, you may have seen a new crop of shoppers perusing the aisles. These shoppers are younger and shorter than usual, equipped with a Lululemon crossbody and a Stanley cup in hand. 

While consumer spending on beauty has been slowing down this year, spending has increased in one age group: tween girls. This generation of tweens has been flocking to beauty stores to buy skincare products and develop routines that rival most thirty-somethings. 

Welcome to the era of Sephora Kids. Where girls as young and nine years old have been thrusted into modern beauty culture and obsessing over trendy, elaborate, and anti-aging skincare (yes, you read that right). 

Generation Alpha has been heavily influenced by young TikTok influencers promoting elaborate routines, Millennial moms who grew up learning beauty techniques from YouTube, and skincare brands with youthful packaging that seem kid-friendly from afar.

However, many tweens (and their moms) fail to realize that overdoing skincare at a young age can do more harm than good. 

Let's break down the good and bad of tween skincare, focusing on the "Sephora Kids" craze and why a simplified, less-is-more approach is more effective for youthful skin.


Understanding tween and teen skin and how to care the skin


Understanding Tween and Teen Skin

It's essential to understand the skin's natural processes, such as cell turnover rate and moisture content, and the unique characteristics of young skin. 


A child's skin is 30% thinner than an adult's and has a faster skin cell turnover rate, with skin cells turning over every two to three weeks. This is the speed at which new skin cells replace old ones. 


There's often a misconception that children need to adopt advanced skincare routines akin to those of adults. However, at this stage, their skin is still in its formative years and typically does not require elaborate or advanced regimens. Overloading the skin with numerous products and active ingredients can disrupt its delicate balance and cause more harm to the lipid barrier. 


Think of the skin's lipid barrier as a protective shield of fats and oils. Like a guardian, this barrier sits on the outermost layer of your skin, helping to keep moisture in and harmful stuff out. It's like the wall around a castle, keeping the good and bad things out. This barrier is crucial because it helps prevent dryness, irritation, and infections, keeping your skin healthy and happy. 


So, keeping this barrier solid and intact is important for maintaining smooth, hydrated skin.



The TikTok #sephorakids trend


The TikTok #SephoraKids Craze

The "Sephora Kids" trend has further fueled tweens' obsession with skincare in the past year. With colorful packaging, enticing marketing, and celebrity endorsements, these products promise to deliver clear, glowing skin—but to whom?


Drunk Elephant and Glow Recipe are among the most popular brands for tween girls. But most girls and their moms don't know that many of these products contain chemical actives, potentially harmful ingredients, and unnecessary additives for young skin. 


If you are navigating this topic in your home, this is what you need to know:


+ Marketing Tactics: The beauty industry is built on consumerism. Your child's sales will help beauty brands boost sales and increase their market share- the two most important KPIs for companies.   

Companies are seeing an emerging market with young girls and are quickly developing skincare lines that will be even more appealing and "proper" for the tween skin type. 


Marketing strategies targeting tween consumers, including social media influencers, celebrity endorsements, and eye-catching packaging, will be louder than ever to captivate the young audience. 


+ Ingredient Awareness: Brands are sometimes forthright about what products suit young girls. That said, the average consumer may need to be more savvy to understand the ingredients in some of the most popular products among tweens. 


Among the most talked-about ingredients is retinol, a derivative of Vitamin A known for its anti-aging properties. (Yeah, 10-year-olds are thinking about this.) Retinol is usually recommended for consumers in their late 20s and above to speed up skin cell turnover, repair fibroblasts, and promote collagen and elastin. This active ingredient will compromise the skin barrier for teens since their skin is in its formative stage and skin cell turnover is already going at a fast rate. 


Vitamin C, AHA/BHA, and peptides are other ingredients in popular products that will compromise young skin similarly to Retinol.  


Beyond these active ingredients, tweens, due to their developing systems, would benefit from using products with lower toxic loads. 


To learn more, check out this Ingredient Awareness Guide 


The good and bad of tween and teen skincare


The Good of Tween Skincare

Here are the upsides if you feel your tween is ready to introduce skincare into their daily routine:


  1. Establishing healthy habits: Introducing tweens to a basic skincare routine can instill lifelong habits that promote healthy skin.

  2. Addressing Specific Concerns: Tweens may have specific skincare concerns, such as acne or oily skin, that can be addressed with basic products.

  3. The Confidence Boost of Grooming: When you indulge in the primal act of grooming, your brain releases endorphins, natural chemicals for relieving stress and pain. Scientists say the brain sends signals that confirm how well-put-together you are. Automatically, your emotions and mental processes respond by increasing your confidence.


The Bad of Tween Skincare

Human skin has existed for a lot longer than skincare. It's essential to maintain the integrity of your largest organ and not view it as an aesthetic playground. Here are the downsides of introducing elaborate skincare routines to young tweens: 


  1. Overloading the Skin: Using too many products or harsh ingredients will compromise the skin barrier, disrupting its function and leading to increased sensitivity and inflammation. If the lipid barrier is compromised at a young age, people will experience unfavorable skin reactions that they will pay for in their 20s. 

  2. Exacerbating Issues: Certain skincare products marketed towards tweens may contain harsh chemicals or fragrances that can worsen acne or irritate sensitive skin. This can impact your tween's confidence and start them on a cycle of seeking solutions in even more products, or antibiotics making the issues worse. 

  3. Unrealistic Expectations & Navigating Beauty Culture at a Young Age: Young girls don't have the mental and emotional skills to navigate beauty culture without impacting their identity. (I'm over 40 and even have trouble with it.) The pressure to achieve flawless skin can lead tweens to seek out quick-fix solutions or undergo unnecessary treatments that may be harmful to their bodies and mental health in the long run. 


Tips for navigating safe tween and teen skincare and beauty culture


Tips for Tween and Teen Skincare

Before going shopping to buy skincare, go within a strategy to get the most safe and productive products for them:


  1. First, find out the "Why":

    Ask them why they want to buy skincare products. Their answers will tell you a lot about their motivation. They may not be ready if the answer is to get what they need more time. If they say 'anti-aging,' you can share insights about skin cell turnover and their lipid barrier. 

    The most important skill you can teach your girl about beauty culture is knowing that there is a difference between doing something because it feels good vs. doing something because you are afraid of what will happen if you don't.

  2. Encourage Bio-individuality: Every body is different. What works for your child's best friend might not work for her. Encourage tweens and teens to listen to their body intelligence and adjust their routines based on what they feel rather than blindly following trends because they almost always do not know what they need. 

  3. Begin With a Gentle Cleanser for Nighttime: While tweens and teens can wash their faces with water in the daytime, they should opt for a mild, non-foaming cleanser at night to remove dirt, oil, and impurities without stripping the skin.

    Tween skincare recommendation- Laroche-Posay Hydrating Gentle Cleanser

    Laroche-Posay Hydrating Gentle Cleanser, $14.99

  4. Hydrate With a Moisturizer: Choose a lightweight, fragrance-free moisturizer to hydrate the skin without clogging pores. Even for acne-prone skin, it's essential to maintain hydration and prevent overproduction of oil. Apply moisturizer to clean, damp skin, both day and night. 


    Tween skincare recommendation- Laroch-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer

    Laroch-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer, $18.74


  5. Use Sunscreen: If long-term skin health is really a motivator for tweens, then the ideal product they can invest in is mineral sunscreen. Protecting their skin from UVA and UVB rays will be the best move for preventing skin damage, pigmentation, premature aging, and skin cancer. 

    Tween skincare recommendation- Native Mineral Face Lotion Unscented SPF 30

    Native Mineral Face Lotion Unscented SPF 30, $15.99

By emphasizing simplicity and gentle care, tweens and teens can learn to respect and nurture their skin without overwhelming it. As they continue to grow and their skincare needs evolve, they can gradually incorporate additional products and steps into their routines under the guidance of a trusted adult or skincare/medical professional. 


Ultimately, prioritizing a balanced approach to skincare will help girls develop healthy habits and maintain glowing, resilient skin as they journey through adolescence and beyond.


Why less is more or tween and teen skincare, makeup, and beauty


Why Less is More

Contrary to popular belief, a simplified skincare routine is often more effective for tweens and teens. Instead of bombarding the skin with multiple products, focus on a conscious beauty approach. 


Although it's not as fun and creative, the most intelligent method for tweens and teens to maintain optimal skin health is by balancing their inner world. 


When you have your inner beauty routine on lock, your outer naturally radiates. 

Balance is the Key

Navigating teen skincare requires a balanced approach that prioritizes simplicity and gentle care. While trendy products and elaborate routines may be tempting, it's essential to remember that less is often more when it comes to youthful skin. 


By focusing on basic skincare principles and listening to their skin's needs, tweens and teens can achieve a healthy, radiant complexion without risking damage or irritation. 


So, before jumping on the latest skincare craze, encourage teens to step back and consider what's best for their skin in the long run. I go deeper on this topic in the Why Didn't They Tell Us Podcast. 


Did you find this helpful? Imagine uncovering more beauty blind spots and improving your beauty intelligence. Awaken your beauty with an educational and inspiring deep dive into the cornerstones of beauty, including audio + video, a 40-page workbook, with actionable insights and sustainable results.



TELL ME more