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April 29, 2024

Viral Trend: Skin Care for Tweens and Teens

ThedaCare Pediatrician Offers Advice for Kids and Parents

Do your tweens and teens have more skin care and makeup products than you? If so, you’re not alone.

Sometimes referred to as “Sephora teens” because of their obsession with skin care, tweens and teens are becoming major consumers of skin care and makeup products. Videos highlighting teen influencers demonstrating their skin care and makeup routines are popular on social media sites such as TikTok and Instagram.

What teens/tweens may not understand is these influencers don’t necessarily have their best interests in mind. Many could be simply promoting a product to make money, get free products or “gain clicks” for themselves.

“The appearance of their skin always has been a major part of the self-esteem of tweens and teens,” said Abby Smolcich, MD, a pediatrician at ThedaCare Physicians-Darboy. “Today, social media adds more pressure for kids to look good.”

Dr. Smolcich added that attention to skin care isn’t a bad thing; in fact, it’s good for kids to develop good skin care habits.

“However, some of the products being touted online are too harsh for young skin and may cause future problems for these kids,” she said. “And many of them are quite expensive when common drug-store brands such as CeraVe, Cetaphil, Neutrogena and Eucerin may be just as effective.”

Some of the skin-care compounds Dr. Smolcich offered a warning about include retinol, antioxidants and exfoliating acids.

“These compounds are not appropriate for tweens and teens,” she said. “Extended exposure to these harsh chemicals can be irritating to their young skin, causing a scaly rash or other allergic dermatitis. Older people need these products, not teens.”

Dr. Smolcich recommends this basic skin care routine for most tweens/teens – girls and boys:

  • Wash your face with water and a gentle cleanser twice a day – once upon arising and then before bed. Use only your fingertips for washing; washcloths or skin scrubbers may irritate your skin.
  • Use oil-free skin care and makeup products.
  • Apply a hypoallergenic, non-fragranced or unscented moisturizer to your skin at night or if your skin feels dry.
  • Apply a sunscreen of at least SPF 30 along with a physical blocker, such as zinc oxide, daily – rain, snow or sunshine. Reapply every 1-1/2 to 2 hours if sweating or swimming.

Beyond that, Dr. Smolcich recommended that tweens/teens wash their face with a mild cleanser after any sweat-generating activity and never go to bed with makeup on.

She suggests that it’s good to wash sheets and pillowcases weekly so dirt and oils are not transferred back to the skin. She also noted it is important to avoid picking at or popping pimples, which can lead to scarring, infection, or cause the pimple to take longer to heal.

“It’s so tempting to pop a pimple, but letting natural healing deal with an outbreak is best,” Dr. Smolcich said.

Next, she stressed the importance of a healthy diet.

“Research shows a connection between consuming high levels of sugar and skin breakouts,” she said. “Fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole wheat bread and drinking lots of water are all good options to promote healthy skin.”

She also advised that exposure to smoke is bad.

“Tweens and teens should avoid being around smoke and smoking,” she said. “All types of cigarettes, including e-cigarettes and vaping, and even second-hand smoke are bad for anyone’s skin.”

Dr. Smolcich noted that we’re all accustomed to seeing celebrities and movie stars with perfect looking skin, but that’s not reality.

“Photos and videos of famous people are often highly modified. Many of them have strict rules about how they can be shown. And the same is true of teen influencers,” she said. “The faces they project in their photos and videos have likely been photoshopped or filters have been used to make their skin look perfect. You shouldn’t believe all you see or read online. Photos and videos can and do project false images.”

Lastly, Dr. Smolcich encouraged parents to not hesitate to bring a child into his or her pediatrician or dermatologist if they’re experiencing problems with acne, scaly rashes, eczema or any other skin problem that won’t clear up with over-the-counter (OTC) products.

“Some skin problems need a little extra help beyond what OTC products can provide; there are many options doctors can choose from,” she said. “Sometimes if the teen is using an inappropriate product that’s causing a skin problem, they may listen to their doctor more so than their parents about discontinuing its use.”