July 12, 2024


Define Beauty Yourself

Tweens obsessed with skin care are spending big on beauty products. Experts share do’s and don’ts for safe skin.

Tweens obsessed with skin care are spending big on beauty products. Experts share do’s and don’ts for safe skin.

People are Talking: Teens influenced from social media on expensive skin care products

People are Talking: Teens influenced from social media on expensive skin care products


The trend of teens and tweens obsessing over skin care is “at its max,” says Dr. Sheilagh Maguiness, a dermatologist and president of Society for Pediatric Dermatology — and that can mean both good and bad for young people. 

“(They are) heading to Sephora and Ulta Beauty in droves to try to get their hands on what they think is trendy,” she tells CBS News.

While the focus on skin care routines at a young age may have some benefits, for example by encouraging young people to establish healthy habits early on, there are also risks, experts warn. 

“What’s not good about caring for your skin, washing your face, wanting to establish good healthy skin care habits early? That’s great,” Maguiness says. “But what’s not great is the fact that some of the products that are being marketed to tweens and teens are not necessarily good or appropriate for their skin.”

What started the youth skin care craze?

Social media is a driving factor in influencing this age group toward skin care, says Dr. Usha Rajagopal, medical director of the San Francisco Plastic Surgery and Laser Center.

Maguiness agrees, pointing to celebrities and “skinfluencers” posting about “long, complicated skin care regimens with all these really fancy, expensive products … that (tweens) might think is really good for their skin.”

Plus, tweens “have alway been collectors,” Maguiness adds. While past generations may have collected Beanie Babies, “skin care is really the hip trend right now.”

“They are being marketed to buy products that have bright packaging, that look really cool and trendy and would really appeal to tweens,” she adds. “It’s fun, it’s cute. But in those packages are products that are very strong. … No 12-year-old needs a retinol.”

So what should tweens and teens use for skin care?

Here are some expert-backed do’s and don’ts:

Do: Wash your face

“Washing your face with a gentle cleanser once or twice a day — that’s a great first step around age 11 or 12,” Maguiness says. “Even tweens could could wash their face twice a day; as young as 8, that would be just fine.”

Do: Use sun protection

Rajagopal says younger patients are now more aware of the importance of preventing sun damage.

“That is amazing because not only would it help with sun damage, wrinkles, etc. cosmetically, but certainly the biggest one is reducing skin cancer risks,” she says. 

After washing your face in the morning, Maguiness suggests applying a sunscreen with SPF 30 or greater. Then in the evening, swap that out for a gentle moisturizer.

“The only preventative product that you need in an arsenal at any age is sunscreen,” Maguiness adds. “It is the number one thing you can do to prevent your skin from aging and to prevent, even more importantly, the risk for skin cancer down the line.”

Do: Talk to your dermatologist 

Beyond a face wash, moisturizer and sunscreen, dermatologists can discuss the best, most appropriate options for any skin concerns young people may have. For example, acne as tweens and teens get older is something that can be treated — but it’s best to talk to a professional about the most safe and effective options.

Rajagopal also hopes physicians are talking to young people about good general health and its impact on skin — like not smoking, for example. “Because that can actually increase wrinkles over your face and make you look 10 years older,” she explains.

Don’t: Go overboard

Some products can do more harm than good for young skin, especially if overused. 

“In my clinic, what I see is these teen girls coming in with bags of products that they’re using, and … they’re actually damaging their skin barrier. They’re drying themselves out. They’re getting irritant dermatitis and they’re using products that really just aren’t appropriate for the type of skin that they have,” Maguiness says.

Some harsh ingredients for young people to avoid include alpha and beta hydroxy acids (AHA and BHA), alcohol, highly-fragranced products, and retinols and retinoids, plastic surgeon Dr. Smita Ramanadham, recently told CBS New York. 

“The biggest category to really avoid are those anti-aging products,” she says. “Young skin just does not need it. Young skin has collagen, elastin, it is hydrated, so we don’t need to add these extra ingredients that are really going to irritate and cause inflammation.”

Don’t: Ignore your mental health 

Experts recognize there’s a mental health component here too. 

“Standing in front of the sink for an hour participating in a multi-step regimen might be putting unnecessary emphasis on appearance … that in and of itself isn’t healthy,” Maguiness says, noting that some psychologists are worried that this might start an unhealthy fixation with the desire to look younger or a general emphasis on looks.

Plus, skin issues like acne can impact self-esteem and mental health too. 

And it’s not just girls — boys are part of the skin care craze too, but are often left out of the conversation. 

“There’s a stigma surrounding self-care for boys and that was something that I really felt, as a mom to two tween boys and a doctor, that I wanted to address,” said Maguiness, who created skin care company Stryke Club to address this gap in the industry.

Some also worry about whether kids focusing on skin care at an early age will translate to more extreme cosmetic procedures down the line. 

Rajagopal says she’s already seeing a newer, younger age group coming in for injectable treatments like Botox around their mid-20s — though it’s approved for anyone 18 and older. She warns that going overboard on other popular procedures like lip fillers, for example, can sometimes result in the opposite of the desired effect.

“Sometimes social media does skew the way they think people should look,” she explains. “Hopefully, young people will ease on the very dramatic look. When they do it so early, it actually ages them. They look much older than they really are. Instead of seeing a young, youthful, fresh 25-year-old they look like they’re 38.”