The British Association for Dermatologists has issued a warning about the increasing trend of children as young as eight using skincare products, which could result in irreversible skin damage. Many of these products contain harmful ingredients intended for adult use, such as exfoliating acids, which can cause allergies or eczema. Children are often influenced by their favourite social media influencers on platforms like YouTube and TikTok, who promote these products.
Eight-year-old Sadie was attracted to skincare products after watching influencers on TikTok. She was particularly drawn to a product from Bubble and the US brand Drunk Elephant due to their appealing packaging. However, many of Drunk Elephant’s best-selling products, priced around £60, contain potentially harmful ingredients like alpha and beta hydroxy acids and retinol.
BBC News has received several messages from concerned parents about their children’s interest in skincare and the influence of social media. Drunk Elephant’s founder, Tiffany Masterson, has had to warn children and tweens on social media to avoid their more potent products containing acids and retinols as their skin does not need these ingredients yet.
Sadie’s mother, Lucy, had to stop her daughter from using these products when they caused her skin to become itchy and red. Despite Lucy’s efforts to educate Sadie about appropriate skincare, the influence of social media influencers proved stronger. Lucy feels that her daughter’s childhood is being compromised by this early introduction to skincare.
Paediatric dermatologist Dr Tess McPherson emphasises the importance of providing children with accurate information about skincare. She warns that many of these products are anti-ageing and not suitable for children. They can cause skin irritation and potentially significant problems for children with eczema or sensitive skin.
Dr McPherson advises parents to consult a doctor or dermatologist for effective treatments instead of spending money on expensive products. She also criticises the attractive packaging of these products, which she believes exploits children’s vulnerabilities. Currently, there are no age restrictions on purchasing these items in stores or online.