Fashion Daily


Home & Leisure

Help! My kid wants to be a Sephora tween

Erica Pearson, Star Tribune on

Published in Fashion Daily News

Earlier this year, my daughter started coming home from school and begging us to buy her "skin care." She's 9.

I had heard of "Sephora tweens," the catchy name given to young kids swarming the cosmetics store seeking specific — and often pricey — products made popular on social media. But I was startled that even without access to a single TikTok "grwm (get ready with me)" video, my kid managed to glean brand names from Minneapolis playground chatter and memorize them: Drunk Elephant, Laneige, Sol de Janeiro.

That's when I realized the trend sweeping the nation was not, in fact, all hype, despite the fact that it makes zero sense for a child to slather pricey creams on their face years before their first pimple. The phenomenon may not be an "epidemic," as one TikToker called it, but it is pervasive. And some skin care brands already have become a tween status symbol.

A Sephora shopping spree is not in our plans (or our budget). But like many parents, we wondered if this trend might be more harmful than having to have the right crop top or the "in" plush toy. Could tweens damage their skin by using some of these buzzy products? It's clear that many companies are designing goods to appeal to very young buyers — with brightly colored, fun packaging and candy scents. But are all these products appropriate for "younger fans," as Drunk Elephant's website calls them?

We posed those questions and more to two local experts: Dr. Sarah Asch, owner of Minnesota-based Hometown Pediatric Dermatology, and adolescent medicine physician Dr. Janna Gewirtz O'Brien, a board member of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

They talked about the types of products to watch out for, how to redirect the "skin care" conversation and help tweens navigate peer pressure and self-esteem struggles. Their answers have been edited for space and clarity.

Q: Have you heard of the "Sephora tween"? Do young kids really need skin care products?

Asch: In dermatology, we've been aware of it for some time. Do kids need any of it? No. Kids need a healthy diet and, if you live in Minnesota, moisturizer sometimes. And everybody needs sunscreen. And that's what you need. And then as you start to get into puberty, learning how to wash your face.

Q: Is it a problem that young kids are experimenting with these products?

Asch: There are kids who want to play with makeup or want to play with nail polish. And so, if they want to play with some gentle skin care products, I feel like that's OK. I think that exploration is fine. You know, I think we all tried our mother's Pond's cream, or our grandmother's.

Gewirtz O'Brien: Adolescents are going to do things like go to Sephora and purchase all of the beauty supplies that smell and look so pretty.

Q: How can parents respond?

Gewirtz O'Brien: The big thing I talk about with parents is: How can we support your young person's identity and development and get excited about all the wonderful strengths that they have, and really bolster the parts of themselves that they're confident about and proud of, things that don't have to do with appearance? So their identity isn't only rooted on how they look.

Q: Has social media changed the way kids respond to a fad?

Gewirtz O'Brien: It's a very normative thing during the adolescent years to be comparing yourself to others, to want to have the next coolest thing, to want to appear like you fit in. That's been the story of adolescence for forever, independent of social media. It takes a different form now, almost magnified, in social media, because not only are they comparing themselves to their peers, they're comparing themselves to everyone on the internet. Social media also puts an overemphasis on physical appearance even more than we've known before.


Q: How would you respond to a 10-year-old who suddenly says they "need" skin care?

Asch: I would redirect to talking about healthy bodies and all the things that healthy bodies need, including healthy skin. Making sure that we're getting the nutrients we need, like vitamin D and iron. The building blocks of skin are really important and so having a broad and varied diet, with all the colors in the rainbow in your food, is probably the most important thing you can actually do for your skin. And drinking an adequate but not overly crazy amount of water.

Q: How can we help kids who feel like they need certain products to fit in?

Gewirtz O'Brien: The way I sometimes frame it this is: Real friendships are about connection and are about respect and supporting one another. And yes, sometimes the things you have in common are that you both like lip balm, but it needs to go deeper than that. And there needs to be mutual respect, even if you like different things.

Q: Are any of these popular products dangerous for kids?

Asch: You want to avoid anything that says it "peels" or "firms" or "tones" because those things are typically going to have more harsh ingredients in them. You could say, "Let's look at these tween lines." Those are typically going to be a little bit less irritating.

Q: What if they want to blow a year's worth of allowance on face lotion?

Asch: If they want to save up for something and spend their own money — it might not be what they think it is. It's probably not going to change their life. But there's a life lesson in that, too.

Q: Can this trend have a positive impact?

Asch: I actually wish more people would — if they're going to spend money on something — spend more money on their sunscreen. Because if you have a sunscreen that you like, and you're going to wear every day, that the kid will actually put on themselves and they enjoy it: There's actually a lot of value in that for their long-term health.

Q: Is using sunscreen important for kids?

Asch: One bad sunburn under the age of 13 doubles your lifetime risk of melanoma and all the sun damage you get under the age of 20 is most predictive of your long-term risk of skin cancer. They make sunscreens that are just very lightly tinted, so it can sort of "feel like" makeup.

Q: Are there any sunscreens you recommend for tweens?

Asch: I love Elta MD; generally I like their products. A lot of people like Neutrogena. In terms of younger kids, I've had a lot of good luck with Blue Lizard.

©2024 StarTribune. Visit at Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



blog comments powered by Disqus