What Happens To Kids' Skin When They Use Adult Skincare?

Droves of children are buying skincare products influenced by TikTok, but it may be harmful for them.
Beautiful mother having a spa day in her living room with two daughters
Nikola Stojadinovic via Getty Images
Beautiful mother having a spa day in her living room with two daughters

With a rise in TikTok ‘get ready with me’ (GRWM) videos, under 16s are now using skincare products that are catered to adults.

On the social media platform the hashtag #schoolgrwm has now reached a staggering 351.6M views where children are seen trying out multi-step adult skincare routines, including harsh exfoliators, cleansers, toners, serums, and eye creams.

Now, a dermatologist is warning against the use of adult skincare products due to its impact on children’s skin.

Why shouldn’t children use adult skincare?

Saarah Mengrani, Health and Skincare Specialist at Landys Chemist, says: “There has been a rise in young children asking for and using skincare products that are not intended for their skin after seeing their favourite celebrities or influencers talking about them on social media, with videos on YouTube with variations of “grwm” in the title reaching 13 billion views in 2023 alone.”

The specialist says that because of social media children are trying to copy adult skincare routines they see online. This includes the use of ingredients such as retinol and exfoliating acids.

It can be really harmful as children’s skin is much thinner and more sensitive than adults.

Using such products can make them more susceptible to irritation, dryness, and increased sensitivity.

“Using harsh products like retinoids can not only damage their skin barrier but may even provoke allergies or exacerbate skin conditions like eczema. A child that has not yet gone through puberty will not be experiencing hormonal fluctuations that can cause oilier skin so products that target acne, oil or spots are often unnecessary and can aggravate their skin,” says Saarah.

What alternative skincare products can children use?

Rather than using chemical and fragrance heavy formulas like most adult skincare is, Saarah encourages children to prioritise gentle, fragrance-free formulations that are labelled for sensitive skin.

They can also use children specific product that is designed to safeguard and preserve their delicate skin barrier, doing this can reduce the likelihood of negative reactions.

“A moisturiser and sunscreen formulated for children are typically adequate for their skincare needs,” explains Sarah.

Which ingredients should children be avoiding?

Children should steer clear of ingredients such as Vitamin C, Retinoids and exfoliating acids, advises Saarah.

“Acids like Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) and Beta-Hydroxy Acids (BHAs) are commonly found in anti-ageing routines, they may irritate their sensitive skin barrier, especially if applied incorrectly or excessively.”