A recent rash of young Sephora customers have caused controversy.
A recent rash of young Sephora customers have caused controversy.

Sephora Needs to Implement Preteen Age Restrictions

What were you doing after school in elementary and middle school? For me, evenings consisted of watching Wild Kratts with my dad, snacking on a plate of fruit. I didn’t have much interest in makeup or skincare, and neither did my friends. Besides my daily application of rose scented body lotion, cosmetic products were mostly reserved for my ballet recitals, under my mom’s supervision.

Fast forward to today’s preteens, and a striking contrast emerges. In the background of their “get ready with me (GRWM)” videos, one cannot help but notice towering piles of Sephora products—a roster featuring exorbitant amounts of brands like Sol de Janeiro, Drunk Elephant, Bubble, Glossier, Glow Recipe, Summer Fridays, and Charlotte Tilbury. A survey conducted by Statistica.com in 2016 shows that 74% of Sephora’s online customers were Millennials, ages 28-43. A similar survey performed in May of 2023 showed that the most popular age group on Sephora are Gen-Z kids, who now accounted for nearly half of website traffic. It’s a dazzling array of high-end cosmetics that, despite their allure, are not suitable for preteens. This is why it is necessary for Sephora to implement preteen age restrictions. 

Sephora, a powerful beauty presence carrying prestigious products in every category and expert service has become the new Claire’s (a less sophisticated version of cosmetic retailer) for kids. Recent videos circulating on social media highlights a disconcerting trend among preteens and tweens: wreaking havoc in Sephora stores across the United States. These youths are not only demolishing expensive brand testers and displaying disrespect towards store employees but, more crucially, they’re advertently subjecting their skin to products that can potentially harm more than it can protect. With many of these products using notoriously strong ingredients, when overused or misused  can harm the moisture barrier. They are seen creating skincare smoothies on product testers, leaving behind a mess without cleaning up afterward. The term “skincare smoothies,” a concept popularized on TikTok, refers to combining various skincare products simultaneously to achieve a dewy and perfected look on the skin.

Ongoing conversations on the  Sephora community webpage revolve around the recent phenomenon of “Sephora kids.” A consensus seems to be forming among the adult consumers and concerned parents expressing the sentiment that these preteens “don’t know how to behave” and their actions are going as far as discouraging consumers from wanting to “bring themselves to go into the store anymore.” 

In many accounts, parents can be seen dropping their kids off at Sephora while they leave to shop elsewhere in the mall, or while they run other errands. 

The concern extends beyond the mess left behind, as these products are potentially harmful for preteens. While retinol cream and acids are great for anti-aging purposes, they aren’t necessary for preteens to use, according to Dr. Danilo Del Campo, a Chicago dermatologist. Dr. Campo commented that retinol “is unnecessary” for individuals who aren’t in their twenties. Retinol cream and serum products help to increase skin cell production, which in turn can exfoliate your skin and increase your collagen production. However, according to Whishbody blog teen skin is naturally abundant with collagen, and the decline in collagen typically begins during the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Therefore, for preteens, there isn’t a need to focus on incorporating potent anti-aging ingredients.

Some may argue that skin care can be seen as a form of self-expression, allowing young teens to explore and express their individuality. Using skincare products can boost a young teen’s confidence and self-esteem, helping them feel more comfortable and positive about their appearance. But preteens should still be educated first about what skincare applications are being advertised and sponsored by their favorite social media influences. Instead of mindlessly stumbling into Sephoras and grabbing over publicized products, they should learn about proper hygiene and accept that some of these products are addressed towards more mature skin issues. 

As the internet continues to expand rapidly, the influence on generations is expected to accelerate even more quickly. Today, there are tons of brands launching products that are specifically targeted towards preteen girls. For example the brand Glossier’s marketing strategy targets a younger demographic. Glossier’s collaboration with Starface, known for visually appealing vegan hydro-stars pimple patches, exemplifies this trend.  Beyond aesthetics, Glossier’s strong social media presence promotes inclusivity and diversity, fostering a sense of belonging for teens. With the catchy phrase “You Look Good” permeating their posts, Glossier sends a positive message to the younger generation. As the internet continues to shape trends at an unprecedented pace, the impact on younger demographics is poised to evolve even more rapidly.

All in all, the evolution of beauty trends and skincare routines has taken a dramatic turn, particularly for the younger generation. As the internet continues to shape trends at an unprecedented pace, it is crucial for both parents and the beauty industry to ensure that the impact on younger generations is positive, educational, and, above all, safe for application. But before that happens, Sephora should take proactive measures and implement preteen age restrictions to create a more responsible and age-appropriate beauty environment for all consumers.

Photo courtesy of WIKIMEDIA COMMONS


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    SSMar 3, 2024 at 7:46 AM

    I say start carding customers like bars do. If you’re not at least 16 with a valid ID, you’re not allowed in the store without the accompaniment of an adult.