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What You Need to Know About Tween Skincare Craze: Tips for Navigating the Beauty Aisle

It’s been all over social media, tweens raiding skin care and beauty stores gobbling up all types of products causing alarm for many parents and other adults. Is this age appropriate? What products? Now as a parent and as someone who not only works in the industry but literally grew up in it, I understand these concerns.

Let’s address it.

I don’t ever remember a time in my life where I didn’t have a skin care routine. Back in the early 90s we were the sole distributors of Mustela in Puerto Rico. It’s a line of French skin care products for babies and children. This was my first experience with personal skin care. It instilled in me my habit of face washing and skin care which laid the foundation for my youth defense routine today. Perhaps because of this I might be a little biased.

I don’t see anything wrong with tweens being interested in self-care and/or skin care. It’s fun and makes people feel good! Who doesn’t love fun?! Plus, as I mentioned above it really can instill and create the habit of skin care. Again, who doesn’t like good habits?! These habits will totally pay off later on, in the teen years when acne may flare up and even in adulthood when youth defense becomes a concern.

One of the hard parts for parents when it comes to tween skin care is that there are so many products out there with packaging and/or branding that are attractive to tweens. Bright colors, cute animals, fruity names all this might be confusing as to what is appropriate and what isn’t. The trick here is knowing what types of ingredients are right for tweens. People on social media love to be experts and criticize parents and even children but really there is no place for “mom-shaming” but perhaps “mom-education”.

First let’s look at some examples of the DON’Ts.

Parabens: This is true for everyone actually; not just tweens. Parabens are considered potentially harmful because they have been associated with disrupting hormone function in the body. Some studies have suggested that parabens may contribute to certain health issues, although further research is needed to fully understand their impact on human health. Additionally, parabens have been found to accumulate in the body over time, raising concerns about their long-term effects.

Ethanol, Denatured Alcohol:  Alcohol can be overly drying and irritating to the skin, especially for tweens who typically have delicate and sensitive skin. It can strip away the skin's natural oils, leading to dryness, redness, and potential irritation.

Retinol:  The skin of pre-teens is still in a crucial phase of development. Introducing potent ingredients like retinol may be too harsh, leading to irritation, redness, and increased sensitivity. Retinol works by accelerating cell turnover, which may be more aggressive than necessary for pre-teen skin. Their skin is naturally resilient, and disrupting this process may hinder its ability to develop properly. While retinol is awesome for addressing signs of aging, its long-term effects on developing skin are not fully understood. It's prudent to avoid these types of “age-related” ingredients.

Here I’ve mentioned just a few examples of some ingredients to steer your tween away from. Basically, as a rule of thumb, anything labeled “Anti-aging” or “youth defense” is probably not a good idea for your tween. Additionally, perfumes in facial creams can lead to skin reactions and sensitivity, which should also be avoided. Bottom line, really read the labels and look beyond the branding as it can be misleading. When in doubt ALWAYS consult your dermatologist, pediatrician, or qualified esthetician before purchasing any skin care products.

How about what is appropriate?

When purchasing products for tweens look for gentle, hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, and vitamins (excluding Vitamin C, which is primarily used for photodamaged or aging skin) that support their skin's natural development without causing unnecessary irritation. Choose mild, hydrating cleansers that effectively remove impurities without stripping the skin's natural oils.  Opt for lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturizers to keep their skin hydrated without clogging pores.  Sun protection is crucial; encourage the use of a mineral sunscreen with SPF 30 to shield their delicate skin from harmful UV rays. Make sure the main active ingredients are Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide.

To wrap things up, getting into the habit of skin care early can be a good idea as it can be an excellent way to instill self-care habits. Prioritize simplicity, hydration, and protection to set the stage for a lifetime of healthy and radiant skin.

Again, and I really can’t stress this enough; before purchasing products for your tween consult with your dermatologist, pediatrician, or qualified esthetician to be sure you’re buying the right stuff.

At Irvine Skin Care, we have 60 years of experience and are more than willing to help guide you to make the right choices for you and your tween’s skin. Call us at (787)-775-3333 Tuesday through Saturday or contact us on our website at

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