How To Look After Your Skin In Your Tweens (Looking after your tween’s skin)

How To Look After Your Skin In Your Tweens (Looking after your tween’s skin)

Tween skincare has become a sensation in the last couple of years and many parents, professional dermatologists and even some in the beauty industry are concerned. For all the criticism I launch at the cosmetics industry, I have to admit most skincare manufacturers have sidestepped manufacturing tween-specific products, even though this could be viewed as an untapped and lucrative market. I’ll leave you to speculate on why they’ve done so - maybe you’ll find the answers in this article - but that leaves us with the question, why the sudden interest in tween skincare and where is it coming from? The culprit this time seems to be social media.

The hashtag #TweenSkincare attracted 49.5 million views on TikTok at the beginning of 2024, following a dramatic rise in tween influencers. To be clear, under 13s are banned from having accounts on TikTok and Instagram, according to their terms. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not viewing reels and videos or even making them. These platforms are plagued with how-to and top-tip videos starring children and targeting children. Major ‘ick’ alert!

Tween girl sitting on bed promoting cosmetics on social media video

Wasting time watching other kids unbox toys on YouTube is one thing but social media messaging is starting to change behaviours in our children and, as usual, they’re coming for their confidence. Sense of self is fragile in tweens, especially as their bodies may begin to change and they enter that pathway from childhood to teenage years. Appearance may become more important to them and these tween influencers have been set up to help establish an unhealthy obsession with looks. Why? Because there’s money in it.

Getting tweens hooked on beauty advice not only makes money for the product industry but also means more followers and therefore potential for these social media-featured kids to launch lucrative careers as influencers.

Newer multi-brand stores like Sephora are basically sweet shops for tweens as more brands embrace bright and youthful packaging. Meaning, that even though most products are not expressly targeted towards tweens or designed for young skin, these bold and fun-looking beauty brands are magnets for 8-12-year-olds. 

But do tweens need cosmetics at all? Could skincare do more harm than good for our children and how should tweens be looking after their skin?

Allow me to separate fact from fiction when it comes to looking after your tween’s skin - 

A Skincare Routine For Tweens

When we talk about tweens, we’re referring to kids between 8 and 12 years old. It’s the pre-teen stage where we might notice children reaching for more independence, developing a stronger yet more fragile sense of identity and perhaps even entering puberty. This, in particular, makes it difficult to make any sweeping generalisations about what tweens should or should not be doing for their skin. In general, though, tween skin is still children's skin and, being that it has yet to be affected too much by diet, hormones, pollution and other toxins, it doesn't need products to keep it healthy or improve its appearance. However, those on the cusp of puberty may have begun to experience acne, which is fairly common in the teen years. So, starting to establish a skincare routine and establishing good life-long habits is not a bad idea. What's important to recognise though, is that a skincare routine does not translate to multiple products - we're keeping it simple for tween skin.

Morning Skincare For Tweens

If you're looking after your skin at night, then there isn't much damage that can be done overnight. Therefore, washing the face with water is sufficient for tween skin. For those who are experiencing signs of acne, then a non-aggressive cleanser may help unclog pores, which is where acne manifests. Mine oil cleanser, Lustrous, is all-natural and handmade to calm and treat acne-prone skin.

The most valuable product for all tweens and teens - the one that will keep skin healthy and lessen damage the most - is sunscreen. This should be applied every morning to protect the skin throughout the day.

Evening Skincare For Tweens

Again, a thorough wash is most important because as hormones begin to spiral, it's essential to control what you can. Hygiene is most important as these are the years when children begin to sweat and skin cells may become unstable as other changes in the body occur.

At night, tweens may apply a light moisturiser to their face to lock in moisture, protect the skin barrier and hydrate. Those with dry skin or hair may opt for a silk or satin pillowcase, as opposed to cotton, because these strip less natural oils from your skin and hair. 

What Skincare Products Should Tweens NOT Use?

We're keeping skincare simple for tweens because they're still growing and therefore more at risk of developing contact allergies. Skin may also be prone to breakouts due to hormone instability and harsh chemical products can irritate and/or inflame these. Not only could this increase and/or prolong the problem, but it risks causing long-term damage. Therefore, it's wise for tweens to avoid fragranced products, harsh chemicals (found in most non-natural products) and exfoliators.

Essential oils can have huge benefits for the skin, which is why they are included in my products. However, tweens may want to go gentle when introducing essential oils to the skin as at this age they still might develop contact allergies. Therefore, I recommend tweens only ever introduce one new product at a time to be sure the skin isn’t having a reaction to any of the ingredients.

Although exfoliation is a good way of clearing out pores which is important for all skin but particularly acne-prone, the process is rough on the skin and can cause microtears. Microtears can not only result in scarring but open the skin up to infection. Therefore, children and tweens who generally have softer skin, should avoid aggressive exfoliants and exfoliation methods. Find out more about the pros and cons in my article on exfoliation.

Mostly, it's important not to over-stimulate the skin by using too many products or changing the products used too often. Tweens should stick to a simple, minimalist skincare routine that prioritises cleanliness and is uninfluenced by trends.

From my range, for tweens I would recommend The Exquisite Collection specially designed for sensitive skin. This is ideal for that in-between stage where children transitioning into teenhood may not know if their skin is of an oily, dry or combined composition. Hormones may make this even more difficult to define and therefore the best skincare solution would be an all-natural one for sensitive skin.

The Exquisite All-Natural Moisturiser and Facial Oil Cleanser For Sensitive Skin by Olive & Joyce

Helping Your Tween Develop A Positive Skincare Routine

It’s never fun to be the odd one out and, if their friends are all aboard the tween skincare trend then it’s tough to tell them no. Still, it’s important to try to steer them away from these uninformed influences. Not only could complex routines and unnecessary cosmetics be damaging to their skin, but this trend could be the first step towards an unhealthy obsession with body image.

As parents, we need to support our children’s self-expression and natural attraction to experimentation. Yet, we don’t want to encourage anything that could cause damage. Striking this balance can require a little creativity. So, here are a few ideas for nurturing your tween’s interest in skincare and cosmetics, in positive and harmless ways:

Products and routine - As discussed, tweens don’t need much skincare at all. However, they may not be satisfied with sharing mum’s moisturiser or using the family bath cream, flannels and shampoos. Kids reaching their teenage years will start to yearn for some autonomy, so give it to them when you can. 

There’s nothing wrong with a tween having their own moisturiser, shower gel, shampoos and flannels. So long as they aren’t unnecessarily expensive and they don’t contain any irritants. Allowing your tween their own mini cosmetics collection will not only satisfy their desire for independence, but it will teach them how to take care of their hygiene - something they’ll need to be able to do as they enter their teenage years.

Pamper evenings - We all need a bit of TLC and, as we grow up, many of us become more aware of our appearance. It’s important to nurture a positive relationship with image. Encouraging tweens to ignore a new interest in appearance is an unrealistic ambition - better to show our tweens how to enjoy taking care of our physical selves in healthy and fun ways. So, why not put pamper nights in place? 

You can make your own all-natural face masks - which they don’t need but won’t do them any harm (see my face mask recipes). Foot baths, pedicures and manicures can also be a great way to take care of hands and feet and create a relaxing experience. If you want to use the opportunity also to inject some deep and natural moisturiser into your hands and feet, my Tips and Toes Skincare Set is ideal for all ages. You and your tween may also find that a little time spent in dressing gowns with cucumber slices on the eyes and homemade avocado face masks on is a great opportunity for bonding.

Help them learn - What do you do when you worry you’re not doing right by your skin? When you see other people using products you don’t use or following trends you hadn’t heard of? You find answers, don’t you? Talk to your friends, perhaps follow skincare specialists like me and listen to the experts. If your tween is curious about skincare, don’t shut them down. 

They should know skincare is about more than expensive products or complex multi-step rituals. Caring for our skin is actually something we need to know about and do for our entire lives. So, when your tween starts to bring up beauty routines, it’s an opportunity. Feel free to share this article with them, teach them the basics and remember to stress that good hygiene, water intake and eating healthy foods are the best ways to achieve glowing skin - far more effective than even the fanciest products!

Faces of tween aged children leaning into circle with sun before
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