Earlier this year, North West, the daughter of Kim Kardashian and Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, shared a Tiktok video of her elaborate skin care routine. North was 9 at the time. I can’t say I watched the clip — but if I had, I would have rolled my eyes and thought, “That’s celebrity kids for you — growing up too fast!”
In the video, North rubs a variety of lotions and potions into her face, including a pricey moisturizer from a line called Drunk Elephant. I hadn’t heard of Drunk Elephant until my daughter included it on her Hanukkah wish list. She’s 8. Joke’s on me.
When I ask friends if their tweens are also requesting skin care gifts, the answer is an astounding: Yes! They want it all: Face masks, serums, creams. And like me, other parents don’t know how to feel. Is skin care the gateway to bad body image? Will it lead to obsessive beauty behaviors? Or should we be glad they are willingly applying SPF?
Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marnie Nussbaum shared her thoughts on the growing trend during a Jan. 9 appearance on TODAY.
“This is the first generation that’s really grown up in this digital age where TikTok and Youtube have replaced linear TV. So they’re getting all this information because media agencies can target them easily,” Nussbaum said. “They want to emulate those videos that they’re seening — the problem is, they’re being marketed products that are not right for their skin.”
Kids should keep it simple and steer clear of products that exfoliate or contain acids and retinols, Nussbaum warned.
“Cleanser, oil-free moisturizer, lip balm and SPF,” Nussbaum said. “That’s all they need."
Reddit and Facebook groups for moms are filled with posts written by perplexed parents.
“This is the age group that needs this stuff the least,” Reddit user @limerent_disaster wrote. “I never went through this phase as a kid so I’m baffled."
Same here, I’m baffled. And I’m also concerned. Next holiday season will my fourth grade daughter be asking for lip injections?
Or maybe I need to calm down.
Keneisha Sinclair-McBride, a pediatric psychologist at Boston Children’s Hospital, advises me to take a deep breath.
“Sometimes we put adult lenses on things. For example, kids are probably attracted to skin care simply because they think it’s fun and the products smell good — we’re panicking that next they're going to want anti-aging treatments,” Sinclair-McBride tells TODAY.com. “We’re putting our own grown-up fears onto them.”
Sinclair-McBride also understands why skin care is appealing for kids. Unlike makeup tutorials, which can be super complicated, lotions and such, are easy to apply.
“They might be thinking, ‘I can't wear a full face of makeup, but I can do a skin care routine like the big girls,’” Sinclair-McBride explains.
According to Dr. Ira Skolnik, a board-certified pediatric dermatologist in Concord, Massachusetts, kids should be using products that are labeled hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic.
“These products have been tested and show that they are for sensitive skin and won’t clog pores,” Skolnik says. He notes that products that claim to be “all natural” cannot be labeled hypoallergenic, so stay away from those as well.
Skolnik strongly advises against anything that contains retinol for kids under the age of 12, unless it’s prescribed by a doctor as it can be “extremely irritating to the skin.”
Rahma Hida, a pediatric psychologist at Boston Children’s Hospital, says to ask open-ended questions when talking to your kids about skin care.
“You might say something like, ‘I noticed you’re really into your skin right now. I was just curious about what brought this up for you,’” Hida tells TODAY.com. “Try to avoid closed-ended questions that can make children more defensive. For instance, ‘Did you see something on social media?’”
“If their answer is pretty innocuous, then you can assume it’s just harmless fun,” she says.
“I’m not overly concerned about the tween skin care trend,” Skolnik adds.
After talking to the experts, I’m feeling better about it, too. But I will be keeping an eye on my daughter to make sure her interest in skin care doesn’t turn into an unhealthy obsession with her appearance.
As for including Drunk Elephant moisturizer — 1.7 ounces for $68! — in her Hanukkah gifts, that's a hard no. But I'd be open to suggestions for a "dupe," if you have any!