Leading dermatologists have said that children as young as 10 are putting pressure on their parents into buying them expensive anti-ageing skincare products, which experts say could damage their sensitive skin.
Dermatologists expressed concern that the trend, largely driven by girls seeing products on social media, had left children “obsessed with ageing”. Experts recommend a simple skincare routine at a young age, such as cleaning twice a day and using a light moisturiser, as well as sunscreen if UV rays are high.
Dr Emma Wedgeworth of the British Cosmetic Dermatology Group said she had experience of the trend both professionally and personally as the mother of a 12-year-old girl.
“It is something I see all the time [at work] and as a mother it is … something I am battling with as well. I have an interest in adolescent skin conditions and see a lot of teens brought in by their parents who are using expensive and extensive skincare routines,” Wedgeworth said.
“They are spending a huge amount of time on their skincare routine before and after school … I think as with anything it is about moderation.”
Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist at Self London, said she was seeing the trend more frequently in her clinics.
She said: “Most have been heavily influenced by social media (TikTok in particular) and influencers who are showing their in-depth routines, most often accompanied by luxury skincare brands. There is often an unhealthy focus on anti-ageing too, despite their young age. There is also a degree of keeping up with their friends, as well as frequently chopping and changing their skincare to fix their acne, when what they really need is medical intervention.
“I do have concerns about them using ingredients like vitamin C, vitamin A (retinoids) and exfoliating acids like AHAs and BHAs. They’re not necessary on young skin and I think the psychological aspect of starting an ‘anti-ageing’ routine this young is detrimental. Unfortunately I am seeing more teens in my clinic who are obsessed with ageing. It’s concerning and it’s undoubtedly been fuelled by social media.”
Comments recently surfaced on TikTok about 10- to 12-year-old girls reportedly begging their parents for expensive skincare and makeup at chain beauty stores such as Sephora and Ulta. Older customers have noticed girls buying products, questioning whether they are suitable for their skin. They have also complained of the younger customers being disrespectful and destroying tester products in the stores.
One TikToker said she believed “this need to want to grow up younger” stems from social media. Others complained about influencers who promote “get ready with me” videos and makeup routines, raising concern about how this could be influencing younger demographics.
Wedgeworth said the trend put too much emphasis on image at a formative age. She said young people did not “need that much in terms of skincare”.
She said: “It’s great to look after your skin but not to the point where you are using different products. The vast majority you will not need and some could even be detrimental. Some skin will be sensitive, and some young people are even using retinol [a form of vitamin A added to skin treatments that has anti-ageing effects], which can be damaging for sensitive skin.”
Wedgeworth said interest among young girls was largely driven by social media. “The consumer power [of young people] is increasing and they are becoming more knowledgeable because they are exposed to things through social media,” she said, adding that some platforms were “not well policed”.
One woman, Jill Cotton, says her daughters aged 12 and nine were both particularly interested in skincare products for Christmas. She said: “My eldest daughter and her friends are very into having an aesthetic look for their rooms. A lot of what attracts them to skin care is the fun packaging the creams come in – and how it will look on their shelves.
“However, while the packaging is attractive to children the prices are very firmly in the affluent adult category – with many products costing way more than I would spend on my skincare.”