‘Sephora kids’: Tweens’ obsession with prestige skin care raises alarm bells

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Concerns raised as more kids using anti-aging products
WATCH: Concerns raised as more kids using anti-aging products – Feb 11, 2024

As children and young teenagers increasingly adopt the glamorous skin care routines of social media influencers in the so-called ‘Sephora kids’ trend, dermatologists are raising red flags about the potential harm lurking beneath the surface.

The fad known as the ‘Sephora Kids’ has gained popularity on social media, featuring young girls and boys eagerly flocking to Sephora shelves and then sharing intricately detailed skin care routine videos. The trend has also gained videos of retailers and shoppers complaining about the presence of young children in these cosmetic stores.


This is embarrassing. Go get a lip smackers 😳💀 #sephorakids #sephora #makeup #drunkelephant #kids

♬ Funny – Gold-Tiger

Some videos show children, as young as four years old, accompanying their mothers to Sephora, where they eagerly select different skin care products. One TikTok account, called Garza Crew, has gained popularity, with over 4.8 million followers, where seven-year-old twins Koti and Haven post ‘Get-Ready-With-Me videos‘ showing them using products like toners, facial sprays and peptide serums.

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Yes, not every product is for kids but this trend is cute and so fun for the little girls, stop roasting kids on the internet. #10yearoldsephora #tenyearoldsephora #sephorastories #sephorahorrorstories #sephoraruined #sephoradrama #fyp #drunkelephant #skincaresmoothie #drama #controversial

♬ love song (hesitations) (sped up) – Lofuu & Shiloh Dynasty & dprk

The skin products aren't designed for kids

Dr. Renita Ahluwalia, a lead dermatologist at the Canadian Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Centre in Toronto, said she is pleased young people are interested in skin care products and hopes through proper education they can establish healthy habits.

But there are ingredients in some of these products that harm kids’ skin, such as retinol, exfoliating acids and fragrance, which can damage the skin barrier, she said.

“The problem is when they use a whole bunch of different products that are not designed for young skin, and especially when they’re combining them because they’re doing 10 steps,” Ahluwalia told Global News.

“The risk of irritation and breakdown of the skin barrier and causing dermatitis and acne, which already young people are dealing with as their hormones shift and change. So there are a lot of areas where they can run into trouble.”

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On top of the skin damage, she added that buying all these products can be a “pricey habit” for parents.

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She explained that at her dermatology practice, she has seen children coming in with their parents, complaining of skin irritation due to their 10-step skin care routine.

“They say they’re interested in skin care because their friends are doing it because it’s on social media,” she said.

“But when they take a minute to learn about the skin barrier and what conditions they’re susceptible to as young people… that they don’t need to be using a lot of these ingredients for concerns about aging and fine lines and wrinkles. Those are not problems that young people are having.”

Halifax-based dermatologist Dr. Natalie Cunningham said in a previous interview with Global News that there’s a noticeable surge in interest among 10- to 12-year-olds for intricate skin care routines involving multiple products, often of high expense.

She believes that the influencers on social media have enticed tweens to buy these products.


I don’t mean this in a mean way, this is just my opinion and you dont have to agree. @Rare Beauty @Gisou @The Ordinary #skincare #fyp #drunkelephant #sephora

♬ original sound – Mom & Bella

“We have to realize, this is advertising, so those influences are receiving money from the cosmetic industry to promote these products,” she said.

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Financial reports for the fiscal year 2023 from LVMH, the parent company of Sephora, revealed an “exceptional’ performance for the beauty brand.

“Sephora achieved another historic year, both in terms of sales and profit, continuing to gain market share. It saw exceptional performances in most of its markets, with double-digit growth in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and new fast-rising markets such as Latin America. Growth was driven primarily by makeup, followed by haircare, skin care and fragrances,” the document read.

One of the main products enticing children at Sephora is Drunk Elephant, a beauty brand known for its high-quality skin care formulations and colourful packaging.

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Tweens and teens requesting skincare as holiday gifts

The company has generated significant buzz among tweens, prompting the brand to take to Instagram in December with a message stating that their products are “designed for all skin, including kids and tweens.”

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“First, I would say stay away from our more potent products that include acids and retinols—their skin does not need these ingredients quite yet,” Tiffany Masterson, the company’s owner wrote. The post then listed skin products appropriate for young kids to use, such as marula oil, shampoo and conditioner and tangle spray.

While the company asserts that some of its products are safe for young girls and boys, Dr. Brooke Jeffy, a dermatologist from Arizona, has shared multiple TikTok videos cautioning against the potential harm of this skin care fad.


Drunk Elephant for tweens? Big no! Stick to a simple routine with gentle products for your youthful glow! #fyp #tweenskincare #derm #preppy

♬ original sound – Dr. Brooke Jeffy

What should tweens use?

While ingredients such as retinol and active acids should generally be avoided, Ahluwalia advises consulting a dermatologist if they are deemed necessary, to make sure the appropriate product is used.

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This is because retinol can be used to treat acne, but the key is to pair it with a gentle cleanser and moisturizer, so the skin barrier does not get damaged, she explained.

“We should celebrate that tweens want to learn about their skin and provide them with the right education so that they’re not running into trouble,” she said.

For an average tween, she suggests three steps: cleansing, moisturizing and sunscreen.


Skincare routine for kids 👧 #skincare #skincareroutine #skincaretips #skintok #skincare101 #skincareforteens #skincareforkids #kidsskincare

♬ original sound – sparklesandskin

“There’s lots of different brands for young skin. And if they want to explore something at Sephora and they have a regular skin type and are not like overly sensitive to fragrances, then there are lots of good options there, but they are also at the drugstore, too, as they have equally as good products.”

If you’re searching for a gentle moisturizer, she recommends opting for products containing ceramides and featuring a short ingredient list. With fewer ingredients, you’re less likely to encounter skin issues, she said.

She also advises steering away from products with fragrance, as they can cause allergic reactions or compromise the skin barrier.

“You just want to balance it because one you don’t need to spend a lot of money on a skin care routine for a child, and two, you don’t want to be mixing a lot of ingredients that you might get an allergic reaction or an irritating reaction.”

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— with files from Global News’ Vanessa Wright

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