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The trend of Gen Alpha’s skincare and makeup obsession is concerning 

Leena Moudjed

Exploring the latest trends among Generation Alpha on TikTok reveals a captivating yet concerning obsession with skincare and makeup. Although “Sephora kids” may seem like a harmless hobby, the trend leads to the development of harmful beauty standards from an early age.

These clips highlight the next generation’s fondness for top skincare and makeup brands, including Drunk Elephant, Laneige, Rare Beauty, Saie, Elf Cosmetics and more, underscoring the profound influence of social media on the evolving interests of today’s youth.

It has become evident that this seemingly harmless preoccupation with skincare and makeup among Gen Alpha is not merely a passing trend but a troubling phenomenon with far-reaching implications that involve and go beyond the potential concerns of premature use of skincare with harsh chemicals.

Experts like Dr. Stacey Tull, a cosmetic dermatologist in Missouri, expressed concern that preteens may be succumbing to the hype without fully comprehending popular skincare products and their proper usage.

“Tweens definitely don’t need to use retinol,” Tull said. “If tweens are experiencing acne, they should consult their doctors or dermatologists for prescribed treatments instead of opting for anti-aging serums, which often contain retinol.” 

Tull and other dermatologists advocate for safer options for preteens, like hypo-allergenic products tailored for sensitive skin. However, more concerning than the potential consequences of skincare products on young skin, is the prominence of young girls eager to grow up.

Media psychologist Don Grant, PhD, notes that the desire for young girls to emulate maturity is nothing new.

“From the time girls were little, they were given dolls, which were meant to represent motherhood,” Grant explained. “Playing dress-up and experimenting with makeup has long been a way for girls to explore maturity.” 

While it’s natural for young girls to imitate older figures, the extent of the obsession with skincare and makeup can veer into overconsumption, as seen in these “Sephora kids” videos, which showed girls with hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of dollars worth of cosmetics.

Makeup companies’ profits are booming because of this trend, with a significant portion of their profits now stemming from parents of tween girls seeking makeup and skincare products due to their popularity on social media platforms.

Although TikTok’s minimum sign-up age is 13, the influence of beauty creators clearly reaches younger demographics. As a result of this, young girls’ wish lists no longer have dolls on them, but rather, makeup and a full skincare routine.

Now, as many young girls observe older women’s beauty routines online, they aspire to replicate these behaviors, further fueling the cycle of consumerism and idealized beauty standards perpetuated by social media daily.

The liberating spirit of girlhood has surrendered to a cosmetic craze, where makeup reigns supreme, and blush plays the role of the modern-day Barbie.

 The widespread obsession with skincare and makeup among Gen Alpha disrupts the carefree nature of youth. Instead of spending their time exploring hobbies, playing outdoors or simply enjoying their childhood, many young girls find themselves consumed by the biting pressure to adhere to beauty standards perpetuated by social media.

This shift has not only deprived children of traditional methods of play but also introduced them to the complexities of adult concerns, such as self-image and societal expectations, at an alarmingly early age and at a level that has never been seen before.

This premature exposure to the pressures of non-existent perfection may result in long-term psychological effects, including heightened anxiety, body dysmorphia and low self-esteem. 

“Social media can expose users to hundreds or even thousands of images and photos every day, including those of celebrities and fashion or fitness models, which we know leads to an internalization of beauty ideals that are unattainable for almost everyone,” psychologist Gary Goldfield said. He added that preteens are at an even greater risk of this vulnerability.

We have yet to see the aftermath of Gen Alpha’s love for cosmetics.

 Parents should take note of the love of cosmetics among children and understand it is caused by a natural want to emulate, but keep in mind the potential risks of exposure to self-conscious concerns.

By fostering a supportive environment grounded in understanding and empathy, parents can help their children cultivate a healthy relationship with cosmetics and self-image that prioritizes self-love and authenticity above all else.

It is important to remember, as young girls navigate the world of cosmetics, they are forced to confront issues that were once reserved for adulthood. This robs them of the precious opportunity to embrace the joyful, timeless essence of a lighthearted childhood.

 No amount of money spent on cosmetics can replace timeless memories free from the weight of adult concerns.

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