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An Expert-Approved Skincare Routine for Teens and Tweens

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As you’ve probably heard (or experienced firsthand), Gen Alpha loves skincare. Not that it’s shocking for teens and tweens to be interested in makeup and skin products, but their tastes are definitely getting more expensive. And it’s not just lip gloss or mascara anymore; we’re talking Drunk Elephant and Charlotte Tilbury products on holiday wishlists and multi-step skincare routines every morning and night. The question is, are all these products (and those high price tags) really necessary when we’re talking about 7- to 15-year-old kids?

Dermatologist-trained esthetician Shani Darden of Shani Darden Facial Studio, who’s worked with stars like Jessica Alba and Shay Mitchell, doesn’t think so. “Overall, I think it’s harmful,” she says of the Gen Alpha skincare craze on social media platforms like TikTok. “Social media can expose teenagers and young kids to products that might not be right for their skin type.” That means that kids (and their parents) might be spending big on creams and face washes that don’t even work well for their skin. “It’s so important to do the research on the brands and products they’re interested in,” Darden tells SheKnows.


So what products should teens and tweens be using now, and what should you, as a parent, be investing in? As a mom of two daughters in their teens and tweens, Darden has a few simple rules to guide your next skincare purchases..

Your teen only needs three skincare products. Yes really — just three! “A gentle cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen is sufficient,” Darden says. “I recommend keeping it simple.” Less truly is more in this case, as Darden notes that using too many products, especially on young skin, can do more harm than good. “It can compromise their skin barrier and cause irritation,” she explains.

Be careful with active ingredients. Also known as actives, these ingredients are the ones that target specific skincare concerns, like acne, dry skin, or hyperpigmentation. (Hyaluronic acid, retinol, and vitamins A, C and E are among the common actives you’ve probably heard of.) For teens and tweens specifically, Darden says there’s no need for actives “unless they truly need it for acne.” Consult with a dermatologist or esthetician (see below) and avoid layering different products, Darden adds. “It can still be a very simple routine.”

Sunscreen is a must. Sunscreen is the one product we all should be using daily, no matter how old or young. “The sun is so harmful to your skin and not only can it speed up aging in the long term, but it can also lead to skin cancer,” Darden says. “Both of my kids know to reach for their sunscreen every single day without me telling them to.”


Consult with the experts. If your teen or tween wants to revamp their skincare routine, it’s a good idea to talk to a dermatologist or esthetician first. They can “recommend a routine that will work with [your child’s] skin,” Darden explains, and address any specific needs your child has, like acne or dryness. The best routine all depends on their skin type, she says.

While your social media-savvy teen might want to slather on all the trendiest products, it’s a good idea to listen to the experts on this one. “A great skincare routine doesn’t need to be complicated for young kids,” Darden emphasizes. “It can be as simple as washing your face in the morning and at night, wearing sunscreen everyday, and finding a great moisturizer for your skin type!”

Before you go, shop our favorite skincare products for the teens in your life:



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