A 10-year-old’s 10-step Skincare Routine: What’s the Big Deal?

What’s all this that I’m hearing about 10-year-olds spending almost $900.00 on skincare products in Sephora?

By
Nathalie Heesom-Green

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Sunscreen. Jojoba Oil. Propolis Acne Balm. Vaseline Lip Therapy, Original. That’s about all I have time for when it comes to skincare. So, what’s all this that I’m hearing about 10-year-olds spending almost $900.00 on skincare products in Sephora?

The Background

 

During my daily recommended 1-hour of TikTok scrolling, I came across @natsodrizzy’s GRWM storytime detailing the current outrage of the higher-than-expected patronage of tween girls at leading beauty retailer, Sephora. She details her recent experience of shopping at a Sephora store and overhearing a young girl demand almost $900.00 worth of skincare and makeup products from her mother. 

After some research (scrolling), I saw this trend of mostly young women relaying their experience of tween girls in high-end beauty retailers originated from a video made by @chloevanberkel. In her video, Chloe opens with the realisation that retail stores like Sephora are increasingly being populated by tween girls shopping for expensive skincare and makeup brands that they do not need. The rest of her video explores why this might be happening, and she compares her own experiences of makeup and childhood to what she sees childhood to be today. 

Off the back of Chloe’s video, a trend of adding to the subject has become popular amongst mostly young women on TikTok. These videos add to Chloe’s initial experience with personal accounts of disrespectful tween girls mistreating store employees, other customers and their own parents, as well as ruining tester products by making ‘skincare smoothies’ in store. @gigipimpin, a Sephora store employee, adds to Chloe’s video with an account detailing such events, as well as her astonishment at the value of the products tween girls are purchasing. 

While the large majority of TikTok users participating in this trend are not happy with the ‘10-year-old Sephora girls’ phenomenon, some have different opinions: some comment on the recurring nature of the ‘growing up too fast’ narrative which appears in every new generation, others argue that there are very few public places for tweens anymore, so they go to otherwise accessible stores and shopping centres. The argument surrounding anti-aging formulas and skincare ingredients as damaging to young skin is also prevalent, and some users blame social media and influencer culture for pushing these products onto tween girls.

 

A Tale as Old as Time

One of the most prevalent defence arguments for the ‘10-year-old Sephora girls’ is that the rise in influencer culture has spurred the ‘growing up too fast’ effect, a moral panic which has been seen to occur in every generation. 

Tween girls exist within a very difficult age and cultural environment. On the one hand, they are still between the ages of 8-12-years-old and do not need some of these things that they want, which can be physically or mentally harmful to them if used before intended. 

On the other hand, they are no longer children and have interest in the things that they see older women doing; this includes shopping for clothes, wearing makeup and going out for food or coffee with friends, as a means of distancing themselves from childhood and developing a sense of themselves as teenagers in the wider world.

 

This ‘growing up too fast’ moral panic sees modern media of the era blamed for introducing children to concepts beyond their appropriate comprehension: radio, television, teen magazine and the internet. In the 2000s it was The Disappearance of Childhood by Neil Postman that put blame on visual media, such as television, for giving children access to adult knowledge prior to literacy. The current scapegoat of this moral panic is social media, particularly influencer culture on apps like Instagram and TikTok, which peddle an idealised womanhood experience that tween girls aspire towards. 

This means that tween girls are not at fault for wanting to use the products and frequent the stores that they see young women using. In order to achieve the sense of womanhood that they aspire towards, they begin having interest in current trends such as skincare and fashion. What needs to be available to tween girls is products that specifically cater to their demographic, while still fulfilling their aspiration of womanhood.

Coca Cola Lip Smackers and Victoria Secrets Body Glitter

Part of the current TikTok trend of relaying first hand accounts of ‘10-year-old Sephora girls’ is to compare the current state of childhood with the early 2000s experience of childhood. Many of the young women making these videos sympathise with tween girls' interest in makeup and skincare, as they had similar experiences at that age. The only difference is that, when they were tween girls, there were products specifically catered to experimenting with makeup. 

I’m sure many readers can remember the multicoloured and inexpensive eyeshadow palettes sold to girls 10 to 20 years ago. They usually came with a flimsy, double sided foam applicator, with shades of electric blues and rosy pinks. You could even get them in a magazine sleeve, if your mother was in a good mood that day. 

These products represented the perfect playground for tween girls’ budding interest in makeup and womanhood: inexpensive, easily accessible and fun enough to satisfy their desire to grow up, while still being children’s toys. 

TikTok users see an absence of these types of products for tween girls nowadays. With greater knowledge, standards and technology, tween girls are not interested in these entry level products but rather want to jump right into the deep end of skincare and makeup. They have traded in their Lip Smackers and Body Glitter for Kylie Jenner Lip Kit and Chanel No. 5. 

This outrage we see from women of the encroachment of tween girls into products that are not suitable for them represents the need for greater investment into the interests of tween girls. By making products that are more appropriate for their needs and their purchasing power, skincare producers may be able to satisfy tween girls’ desire to enter the makeup scene, as well as placate their older consumers. 

BTWN is a skincare line produced by dermatologist and mom Dr. Brooke Jeffy that specifically caters to tweens and teenagers skincare needs and desires to be involved in the ritual of care peddled by female influencers online. With a pledge of ‘fuss free’, BTWN products are suited to the needs of younger skin and prioritise information transparency to directly counter the misinformation spread on social media.

Get In, We’re Going Shopping

A final realisation of this TikTok trend was the fact that very few spaces exist specifically for tween girls. Within the vein of nostalgia regarding childhood makeup products, young women on TikTok describe their experiences of shopping at specifically tween-orientated stores and hanging out in parks or shopping malls, places that they no longer see available to tween girls. 

To remove tween girls from the areas that are not appropriate for them, another one must be available to replace it: if young women are complaining of tween girls being within their spaces, then a space must be provided to cater to the needs of tween girls that is exclusively for them. There is a call for the revival of tween-specific stores and public spaces.

Some suggest the development of Sephora brand stores designed to specifically cater to the desires of tween girls, where the products are more appropriate for their skincare needs and the shopping experience is designed to educate and experiment.

In this case, products such as BTWN would be available for purchase while providing shelf space for the opportunity for other brands to invest in the tween girl market, while still satisfying the grown-up experience tween girls currently seek from high-end skincare shopping. 

This satisfies the frustrations of current loyal customers of brands like Drunk Elephant and Glow Recipe, who call for a restoration in their shopping experience by the removal of ‘10-year-old Sephora girls’, while providing a substitute experience for those tween girls. The establishment of these stores would also provide retail landscapes for product innovation of tween skincare needs, and act as hubs of transparency and education from dermatologists to combat the high saturation of influencer-led product peddling online.

 

Closing

In the end, tweens girls represent an untapped market for product innovation and development of exclusive spheres. Creating age appropriate yet aspirational skincare and makeup lines would satisfy their playful makeovers and skincare routines while ensuring that they do not experience damage from products not suited to their needs.

 

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