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Beauty Craze Harmful to Teen Health

Social media and influencers contribute to the youth skincare and makeup trends that can harm teenagers physical and mental health.
Photo by Augusta McKenzie.
Freshman Emily Luu applies her makeup in the mirror. Recent social media influence has led to a dangerous spike in teenager’s irresponsible purchases of skincare and makeup. Senior Priscilla Ngyuen has noticed this trend. ““I scroll on TikTok and all I see are young girls doing get-ready with me [videos],” Ngyuen said. “Even when I’m in shops like Sephora, it’s amazing how many kids I see.”

Malls have always been a breeding ground for pre-teens – kids who are just old enough to crave independence, but not old enough to drive places themselves.

With this storm of kids striving to look mature and makeup stores looking to expand their customer base, stores that populate malls such as Sephora and Ulta have been flooded with adolescents.

“I scroll on TikTok and all I see are young girls doing get-ready with me [videos],” senior Priscilla Ngyuen said. “Even when I’m in shops like Sephora, it’s amazing how many kids I see.”

According to an article by CNBC, from fall 2022 to fall 2023, teen spending on skincare rose 19%. Clinical psychologist Laura Minze attributes this increase to the overwhelming amount of time teens and tweens spend on social media.

“If you’re watching people do makeup tutorials on Tiktok or Instagram, they’re showing you how to appear more confident,” Minze said. “But you can’t do that unless you buy the products. So then everybody wants the products.”

This effect on tweens is largely thanks to the influencers on social media, who do brand deals and promotions with skincare and makeup brands. But what works for one person won’t always work for another.

“I always take what [influencers] are saying with a grain of salt, realizing that they are recommending a product from personal use or from a brand deal,” board-certified dermatologist Jill Feetham said. “Even if they like it, it doesn’t mean that product would be effective or not effective for you.”

Along with adult influencers selling beauty products, there are also teenagers who may unintentionally promote the products on social media or to younger siblings.

“Historically, this is not a new thing, makeup has always made women feel prettier. But in the past, it was advertised through different media,” said Minze. “The difference, I think, is the number of people who are posting and the amount of content in this constant sea of access.

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However not all influencers are bad, and some can create a familiarity and sense of connection with their viewers while also educating them on topics like how to take care of your skin. Ngyuen believes that some influencers foster positive relationships that can allow for a safe environment on the internet.

“You can genuinely tell when influencers are good people by their wording and the way that they compose themselves and interact with their audience,” Ngyuen said.

According to the organization FirstSkinFoundation, a gentle skincare routine is important to have. There is no use for anti-aging retinol which can cause both issues with the skin barrier and have an effect on bone development.

“It really depends on the type of skin the patient has,” said Feetham. “Essentially for all patients, not just tweens it’s important to recognize that one size doesn’t fit all, so all sorts of different products are needed”.

To protect tweens from harming their skin and self-confidence, Minze believes it’s important for parents to understand what their children are watching and the information they are being influenced by.

“I’m always talking with parents about limiting social media. That doesn’t mean entirely taking it away,” Minze said. “It means limiting it and knowing what your children are watching so that you can discuss it and have real-time conversations about the things that kids are watching on social media.”

Feetham agrees that parents should make an effort to understand their child’s skin type and what products are necessary to take care of it.

“I would say really less is more, and for your kids, you want to keep it extremely basic, like a very gentle cleanser and a daily moisturizing sunscreen,” Feetham said. “Beyond that, you really have to get their skin assessed to see what is necessary.”

Although she believes makeup and skincare can be an outlet for creativity and exploration, Ngyuen explains that in her experience, makeup can also be a crutch for teens with little self-confidence.

“I think makeup is a way to enhance people’s beauty, and I think it’s a good way to express creativity,” Ngyuen said. “Though people should learn how to embrace personal beauty more than relying on makeup because it’s only used to enhance, not to change.”

While the allure of skincare and beauty products can be strong amongst teens and tweens, Minze stresses the importance of recognizing the potentially damaging effects on a child’s physical and mental health.

“The earlier we rely on things that are a false ideal or an unrealistic expectation, the harder it is to get to the realistic expectation,” Minze said.

About the Contributor
Augusta McKenzie
Augusta McKenzie, Reporter
What are you looking forward to on the staff this year? Hanging out with the Newspaper staff. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?  A tree house on a small island or in the rainforest with tons of colorful birds. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? Pasta