Tween Skincare: They're coming for our Kids
I've held off commenting but after so many of my clients asking my advice, it's finally time to let this rant out of the bag.
The beauty industry is at it again!
If you haven’t noticed the surge of tweens demanding anti-ageing skin care, you clearly haven’t tried to walk down the beauty aisle of any store. Because right now you'll struggle to get through the hordes of children throwing tantrums much like I used to… but in toys are us.
But instead of wanting a barbie doll or the latest action figure, these ten year olds are demanding brightly packaged anti-ageing skin care products
Sure, one skin care company may have started it, but every other brand is already jumping onto that band wagon, creating skin care starter kits in bright shiny packaging so they can cash in on the latest hype and trend. Children.
Why miss out on what the bigger brands are now making their fastest growing demographic???
They’ll say they were only catering to demand "we are just giving them what they want."
But sometimes we want things that aren’t so good for us and that’s exactly what’s happening here.
But the bigger question is: Where is the demand coming from?
This is NOT born out of a need for a skin care solution for an existing skin care problem. Kids rarely have skin issues requiring such intervention. Not problems that retinol and eye cream are needed for.
It’s purely marketing.
It's driving want and desire through very cleverly placed advertising.
They’re paying kids to sell to other kids!
These influencer kids didn't go out there seeking these brand deals looking for a wrinkle cream or a spot treatment for acne. The brands started this by preying on the kids and creating demand. Telling kids it's a great idea and that they need this.
If they didn't send free products to influencers and pay them to promote it, this trend WOULD NOT EXIST!!… So yes, they are doing it, yess they have created this and all for what???
These companies have discovered a whole new demographic. First it was us women in their spotlight, preying on insecurities, status and ageing.
In recent years brands started marketing to men- they discovered that there was the other half of the planet that could spend money on skin care so pumped their products into masculine looking bottles and renamed it with masculine sounding names and what do you know, a whole new demographic of sales. And now… They’re coming after our kids!
These kids have no idea what's inside these bright coloured bottles on the shelves. It's not the ingredients that are after... But the status and "fitting in" and the soon to be met solutions for insecurities that we are creating for profit.
Kids aren’t out there seeking anti-ageing solutions or active ingredients to target specific concerns. Kids buy with their eyes and they’re going to want the cutest, brightest, shiniest, specifically branded things that will impress their friends online, help them fit into a trend and for a moment, make them feel grown up. Why do you think the bright packaged products are the ones getting the most attention here?
And if you try steer them to a more skin friendly option, I dare say it wont cut it simply because its like getting a knock off version of the actual trending brand they want (no matter how much better/safer/more suitable it is for their skin)
I’m showing my age but remember when we all went mad for tazo’s and tamagotchi’s?
Or maybe it was yoyo's, fidget spinners and basketball cards? Whatever it was, trends went around school, they do and they will.
But this is worse.
Why? Because it’s not just in the school yard. It’s infiltrating every part of our kids lives and now it’s literally getting under their skin.
A tamagotchi never hurt anyone… in fact we hurt the tamagotchis… Our skin is a living functioning cellular organ and children's skin is still developing.
From a skin perspective, pre-teens still don't have fully functioning sebaceous glands, so their oil production is minimal if at all. This means their skin barrier is less supported and more easily disrupted. Their oil flow tends to kick in when they begin the hormonal changes, through puberty into adult hood. Hormones are what tell our skin cells what to do and at this age.
A childs skin skin microbiome is SO delicate and Their skin cell lifecycle is in its prime, which means their skin already has a well functioning keratinocyte lifecycle, but its about to go through a tricky time with the changes that happen to skin during puberty. So we want them to have the healthiest skin possible as they head into a rough couple of teen acne years.
MANY skin care ingredients can disrupt this cel lifecycle process. YET kids are being influenced buy products to 'clear out their pores' and 'resurface their skin' with exfoliants and active agents… and I’m just not here for it! (and with these products, neither will their skin be!)
When I say not all “Not all skin care is skin ‘care’ I damn well mean it!
A LOT of products out there work against the skin, even for adult skin, let alone pre teen, children's skin thats still just learning how to be skin.
I’m furious that they are coming after our kids under the guise of skin health. If that’s no a wolf in sheep's clothing then I don't know what is!
This isn’t a new phenomenon- We’ve all dabbled in skin care as teens and a lot of what we tried had cult followings, relentless tv infomercial advertising, I'm sure you too used those acne products that bleached mums good hand towels. Not sure I'll live that down...but now they’re coming after our kids and its not just fun skin care little home facials.
This is serious business and its ALLLLLLL driven by MONEY!
None of these companies actually care about catering to tween skin…If they did, the formulas would not be what they currently are. And the relentless push and mixed with subliminal placement wouldn't be as fierce!
So who stops this? The beauty industry certainly isn’t going to put their hand up hand and say, oh yep, we did that! Sorry! Law'd no!
They’ll pretend that it wasn’t them but some nameless, faceless brand that started the avelanche (that every other brand will now profit from)
Its like when mum asks “who did it??” and we all point at each other. No-one will actually taking the blame for the destruction of the living room. And this is where the beauty industry gets to hide under a nameless faceless being.
But someone started it.
Was it a PR company that made a recommendation to a brand?
Was is a marketing company that had a stroke of genius?
Was it a skin care brand that decided this was a good idea?
I have my thoughts. And I dont believe it was a skin care formulator who's ultimate goal is to provide skin solutions (even average brands have the best intentions to solve a skin issue.) My humble conclusion is that this trend has absolutely come from a marketing department.
It’s happening right before our eyes but no one is going to stand up and claim the prize for breaking our children's skin barriers.
But just watch… If ever there’s a moment of accountability, they’ll just say they saw an opportunity to ride the wave that someone else started. And they saw that there was demand so they dutifully delivered to meet that demand.
We’ll start hearing companies say they saw what was happening and so wanted to give teens a better/safer/more skin friendly option so they created ‘blah, blah, blah’ to give parents a gentler, more skin friendly option.
“Oh but I made a gentler range so it’s better than the active stuff and it's packaged in cute tween appealing bottle”… sure, yes its giving options. But why jump on this in the first place? Is it to really help parents navigate this trend whilst making sure their children's skin comes out the other end unscathed? Or is it to get their own piece of the tween skin financial pie?
It’s just giving “ if you can’t beat them, join them” energy and it’s embarrassing!
It's giving "we don't want to miss out on the opportunity to capitalise on the trend"… vibes
Kids want to feel grown up, they want to feel like they fit in and they want to be accepted by their peers. We used to think our kids and young teenagers starting to wear makeup was an issue, it's too grown up too soon. bBut skin care is invisible so it's seen as less problematic and not as “coming of age" defining as when they start to wear make up.
Sure, they’ll victim blame and say the kids wanted it, it's just a bit of harmless fun and we’re just delivering a product that they’re asking for… but that’s a lie! THEY created demand. THEY have preyed on our KIDS.
We’re about to break an entire generation's skin barrier… just let that sink in.
Think dermatitis, skin rashes, sensitised skin, reactive skin.
Acne- yes, skin care used incorrectly can cause acne, and a skin with a disturbed barrier is a leading cause of breakouts, textural issues, congestion. With some of the active ingredients in these products, I predict we're also setting these kids up for longer term pigmentation issues.
Just watch. In a few months, maybe a year's time, the conversation will shift. It's subtle but I see it all the time in our industry.
I give it 12 months and suddenly we’re going to create a solution to fix it. Yes, you’ll be seeing barrier repairing skin care marketed to the exact same tweens we are targeting now. You heard it here first. Teen skin barrier repair will be all the rage?
How do I know this, because I’ve watched this exact pattern happen in the adult skin care market so its only a matter of time before this evolves and we find ourselves here.
I'm just hoping that kids lose interest and get bored of it before the longer term damage is done.
BUT kids don't generally have this kind of money to make these kinds of purchases. For most adults, skin care is an investment. Pocket money isn’t going to cut it when it comes to a 10 step skin care routine that many adults have to budget for… so who can stop this?
I guess I can only speak to parents and implore them to think before they buy. And my goodness it must be hard. We want to give our kids the world but we also want to keep them safe and healthy.
Can someone bring back the tamagotchi? Pretty sure I still have my yoyo in a box in my garage. Can we take up a collection and go back to the trends of innocence? Or am I trying to shut the gate after the horse has bolted???
I know I get a little bit ranty on these topics, but when they come for our kids, this is a hill I will die on.
As adults we have more life experience to draw from to help us determine what is and isn't the right fit for us. Sometimes we get it right, other times we ignore the warning bells and throw caution to the wind and do it anyway… but our kids don't have this same reserve in their decision making brain. They just see what other kids have, the influencer kids showing off their swag bags and just want to be part of it and have things in common with kids on the playground.
And if we as adults burn our face off, aka Samantha Sex and the City vibes, we sheepishly admit defeat and chalk it up to a failed experiment. But what are we inviting in the mental health and wellbeing of our kids who have cosmetic induced skin disorders? We've all got some internal scars that live under the surface of that teen acne we endured... what will be the outcome in years to come?
It’s hard enough as an adult to navigate the skin industry and to deal with the consequences of a poor skin choices (we’ve ALL got a story about the time we experimented with a product and it went horribly wrong!)
I’m a seasoned player on this field and I can see how challenging as a consumer it must be to be faced with aisles and aisle of skin care brands vying for your attention and money- I’m grateful I have the skin education to be able to spot the winners and walk right past the “definitely going to be a fail” products.
And that’s my life’s mission- to empower you with skin knowledge. It’s why I remain in this industry that at times like this shits me to tears. So that I can help instead of hinder and to hopefully be a voice of reason when the world is already telling you to change everything about the way you look, when the way you look is JUST FINE!
Our kids just want to be part of it and have something in common with all the other kids in the playground.
And as I sit here carrying on about this, I actually don't have an answer, because I get it. It's like fast food advertising, it infiltrates everything. This is going to be exactly the same with marketing that swirls around this industry. And it's so cleverly, cleverly designed.
I don't know how we're going to navigate this and I don't know what the next step is. And I guess I'm asking you, asking the parents, How can I help?
How are you making sure that your children's skin is protected and that they're not just going through a phase and trend of using something that's going to create longer term problems
As put my voice to this because being in the industry, it makes me part of the problem as well.
And I get it. I get that I work in an industry that is this massive beast that's like a snowball running downhill and there's almost no way to stop it.
I have avoided speaking on this up until now. Yes, I could have gone on a big rant and then supply you with a list of my skin friendly alternatives, (here's my link, use my code, #jokes) and yes, of course I am able to make recommendations that will support and fortify your children's skin health, help them create great skin habits in time for the teenage skin road ahead...but that just lumps me in with the rest of them... so I feel in between a rock and hard place, wanting to help create a solution... but in reality, the solutions is kids dont need skin care products.
If there's anything I can do, it's to give you an education of how skin works and what's happening in a child and teenager's skin to know that none of this stuff is needed. It is all just created by desire and demand and want. Skin is skin is skin, the way that it works, cells and biology doing its thing, we dont need to be interfering with active ingredients for our kids.
And let's just hope this trend passes with as little collateral damage on their beautiful little faces as possible.