In the wake of “Get Ready With Me” videos (GRWM) and other beauty-related content on TikTok, kids and tweens are expressing more interest in skin care practices than ever. And while taking good care of your skin is certainly a healthy habit, it’s important for tweens (typically ages 8 through 12) to be using only skin care products that are safe for their age ranges and in the correct way.
To help parents navigate the skin care products, ingredients and routines they can (and cannot) safely allow their tweens to use, BestReviews tapped two dermatologists for their expert advice.
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These days, “tweens are verging on obsessive with skin care,” said Dr. Nava Greenfeld, a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist. “They are highly informed from social media and they are looking to optimize their skin care routine in a way I have not seen in years past. They absolutely reference TikTok and Instagram as their sources for what they believe to be important for skin.”
“A very basic skin care routine can be considered starting at 9 to 10 years old, but may consist of simply washing the face at night, moisturizing the skin and wearing sunscreen in the morning,” said Dr. Marisa Garshick, a board-certified dermatologist practicing in New York and New Jersey. “Some ingredients that are safe to consider include ceramides or ingredients that help to support the skin barrier and hyaluronic acid, which helps to boost moisture. For teens and tweens with sensitive skin, it’s best to consider a mineral sunscreen, which contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.”
Dr. Greenfeld advised that “less is more in the tween years unless there is an active issue to treat.” Additionally, it’s important for young skin care users to “start off with gentle ingredients that won’t irritate the skin,” and use no more than three products.
Still, if your tween is experiencing acne, you may want to speak with their dermatologist about incorporating an acne treatment. “Using natural ingredients like tea tree oil and coconut oil will add effective ingredients while keeping the products gentle and safe,” added Dr. Greenfeld. “Salicylic acid is another winner when it comes to mild anti-acne ingredients. You can add the gentle acne-fighting ingredients to cleaners or lotions.”
Not every skin care product is safe for tween skin. “Tweens do not need to use ingredients like retinol, vitamin C or glycolic acid. In general, not only are these not necessary for teenage skin, but they can also be too harsh and irritating on the skin,” said Dr. Garshick. Additionally, “it is not as necessary to exfoliate the skin, so alpha hydroxy acids are not needed” in tween skin care routines, she added. “Toners and serums are not necessary for teens/tweens, and it is important to keep skin care routines simple to minimize any potential for reactions or irritation.”
Before trying a new product on your tween, it’s always best to consult a dermatologist who can asses the appropriateness for your particular tween’s skin, Dr. Greenfeld noted. “When a product or device trends on TikTok or Instagram, ask a professional before trying it at home. Developing healthy habits during tween years can last a lifetime, so focus on eating well, drinking water, exercising and using only a few good quality skin care products daily,” she said.
Dr. Garshick likes this brand for tweens with sensitive skin. The gentle product cleanses without stripping skin and it helps balance oil production with ingredients like lavender flower water.
For tweens experiencing acne, Dr. Greenfeld recommends Carbon Theory products, which use “gentle ingredients that can prevent and treat the early signs of acne development.” This facial cleansing bar uses charcoal and tea tree oil to draw out bacteria and reduce inflammation.
This SPF 30 moisturizer is formulated with hydrating hyaluronic acid, as well as ceramides, which help restore the skin’s barrier. It also helps protect tween skin with zinc oxide sunscreen. The brand comes recommended by Dr. Garshick.
For tweens interested in trying popular water creams, Bubble’s version infuses skin with essential moisture, helps control oil production and helps shrink the look of pores. It’s formulated with hibiscus extract and celery seed extract.
This facial moisturizer from a brand recommended by Dr. Garshick hydrates, nourishes and protects against sun damage. It’s hypoallergenic and fragrance-free, plus it won’t clog pores.
Prices listed reflect time and date of publication and are subject to change.