Dermatologists are urging parents not to buy adult skincare products for young children as they copy their favourite influencers showing off their own skincare routines on social media.
The trend has led to an increasing number of children using expensive skincare products – such as anti-ageing cream – many of which contain ingredients that aren't safe for their skin.
Dr Aamna Adel, a dermatologist at Oxford University Hospital, told Yahoo News UK: “I've definitely seen it all over social media, and I think there's been a big interest in young kids and tweens incorporating lots of different skincare products into their routine.”
Dr Adel, who has 1.5 million followers on TikTok, added: “They're seeing all their favourite content creators and influencers doing ‘Get Ready With Me’ videos and skincare routine videos, and they're using these products which are really bright and vibrant and fun.”
From the multiple videos viewed by Yahoo, many of the children taking part in the trend are dressed in school uniform and appear to be aged 14 and under - while the products they are using are formulated to target specific skin issues associated with ageing, such as wrinkles.
Dr Adel warned that not only are some children using inappropriate products, but they also appear to be mixing products inadvisedly, which could lead to irritation, redness, dryness, flaking skin and more.
She said: “They're probably pairing together lots of different harsh acids, and that's causing more harm rather than good.”
TikTok, in particular, is plastered with hundreds of the Get Ready With Me (GRWM) videos, shot by young children in the same style as adult influencers - sometimes using products totalling £60-£70. The hashtag #GRWMforSchool has 1.7 billion views. In the videos, children show off the beauty products as they go through their routines, applying serums and moisturisers by brands such as Byoma, Bubble and Drunk Elephant.
The trend took off last year when young girls, primarily in the US, started posting videos of themselves making “smoothies” by mixing Drunk Elephant products in Sephora stores - seemingly attracted to the brand because of its fun packaging.
The children have been branded 'Sephora Kids' - with 11-year-old Penelope Scotland Disick, the daughter of Kourtney Kardashian, one of the most high-profile examples.
Bubble and Byoma, which have become widely available on the high street, have bright, colourful packaging and are cheaper - making them more attractive to tweens taking part in the 'at-home' trend. And even though videos of children using products with retinols or acids contain warnings from people in the comments section, it doesn't appear to be putting off many of them.
One TikToker, Meg Price, claimed in a video that she was even followed around a Boots in Birmingham by a group of girls because she was holding the last three Byoma products in the shop. She said: “There was probably about five different groups of girls following me around the shop, literally eyeballing me, waiting for me to put them down.”
In the comments, some recounted similar experiences with one person saying: "Went to the Trafford centre yesterday and battled of 30 children to grab MY TONER."
What should young people be using instead?
Some children have defended using the products, claiming they are trying to treat skin problems like acne. Others have claimed they are specifically trying to prevent their skin ageing prematurely.
One dermatologist told the Guardian she has encountered teenagers in her clinic obsessed with ageing skin. Dr Anjali Mahto, a consultant dermatologist at Self London said: “I do have concerns about them using ingredients like vitamin C, vitamin A (retinoids) and exfoliating acids like AHAs and BHAs. They’re not necessary on young skin, and I think the psychological aspect of starting an ‘anti-ageing’ routine this young is detrimental."
Dr Adel said that young people could supplement their skin with cleansers from shops, but if they do have any skin problems like acne, they should speak to their GP. "None of those products needs to be ridiculously expensive, and there are a lot of kids using like £60 cleansers, moisturisers," she said. "I think that's crazy because you don't need to spend a lot of money on a cleanser or moisturiser, especially when you're just looking for very gentle products."