Gen Alpha is crazy for skin care, and some parents seem more than happy to support the obsession. According to NielsenIQ, skin care spending jumped 23% in households with kids 6-to-12-year-old between 2022 and 2023.

“It used to be sneakers or a new bag that was cool, but skin care is now a status symbol,” said Ian Ginsberg, President of C.O. Bigelow, Manhattan’s oldest pharmacy. Social media is clearly one influential factor, with tweens getting routine exposure to skin care products hawked by social media stars, such as seven-year-old-twins Koti and Haven Garza (@garzacrew) who share their top skin picks on TikTok. But Ginsberg said Gen Alpha’s parents are influencing their children, too. “These kids see their parents hyper focused on aging [intervention] and getting Botox or plastic surgery,” he said, suggesting the apple isn’t falling far from the tree.

However, not everyone is enthusiastic about this trend, with dermatologists and even some skin care brand executives speaking out about the risks of highly active products on tween skin. “This trend where tweens are buying and using advanced skin care is very concerning,” said Dr. Heather Woolery-Lloyd, a Miami dermatologist. “Skin care products with ingredients like retinol and alpha hydroxy acids are not appropriate for young skin and can cause significant irritation in this age group.”

Andrea Nolting, CEO of Tula, concurs and said the answer may be limiting the ingredients young shoppers can access. “If this trend continues, it may be necessary to explore age requirements surrounding certain active ingredients that should not be used on kids’ sensitive skin, as they could cause adverse reactions, skin sensitivities, and possible skin damage,” she said.

Some doctors also worry about how the social-media-driven skin care frenzy is impacting self-esteem or exacerbating mental health concerns. “Although social media can be a source of camaraderie and community for teens and preteens, there is also…specifically a concern that social media exposure may cause an increase in body dysmorphia among young children. And this may present with an early obsession like we are seeing with skin care,” said Dr. Elyse M. Love, a Manhattan dermatologist.

Rather than just adopting a wait-and-see attitude, Apotek Hjärtat, a leading Swedish pharmacy chain, recently took action and restricted the sale of advanced skin care to those under 15 — unless they get parent approval.

“This new rule by the Swedish pharmacy is forward-thinking,” said Dr. Woolery-Lloyd. “Hopefully, it will minimize this trend locally by preventing kids from buying products that are not designed for their skin.”

Dr. Love agreed that getting retailers involved and having them limit the sale of anti-aging products is a step in the right direction. “It puts teen mental health above revenue,” she said. “But I do feel this is a deeper issue that requires broader social media interventions and regulations to protect our youth.”

So, what specific ingredients are doctors and some skin care executives saying are too harsh for young skin? And, conversely, are there any upsides of Gen Alpha’s interest in skin care (such as adopting healthy routines or voluntarily wearing sunscreen daily)? To address these questions, CEW asked Spate to provide a list of some of Gen Alpha’s favorite skin care brands — then we asked executives at those brands to weigh in on how they’re thinking about this fervent young consumer.


Andrea Nolting, CEO Tula Skincare

“I would recommend steering clear of our serum and ageless offerings as those typically will contain more potent ingredients and work to treat skin care concerns like wrinkles and dark spots that do not affect younger teens and tweens,” said Tula’s Nolting. She recommends a three-step routine using Tula’s The Cult Classic Purifying Face Cleanser, followed by the 24-7 Moisture Hydrating Day and Night Cream, and the Protect & Glow Daily Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30. “This is perhaps the best part about tweens getting into skin care — getting them in the habit of wearing sunscreen every day,” she said. The ingredients she doesn’t think are appropriate for Gen Alpha include vitamin C, AHAs, niacinamide, peptides, and bakuchiol. Other ingredients on her “no” list include excessive alcohol, essential oils, retinol, and a high percentage of AHA. “Alcohol can be harsh and drying on teen skin, and oils can overload and clog pores.”

Shai Eisenman, CEO and Founder, Bubble

“This is a topic close to my heart because my eight-year-old daughter just saw a Bubble TikTok and asked why it says 13-plus. I said because you are not supposed to use this product,” said Shai Eisenman, CEO of Bubble, a brand that was created with Gen Z in mind. Bubble is anchored in a three-step regimen — a cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen. “Sunscreen is non-negotiable. We say it bluntly on our Instagram that you don’t need anything else. Everyone from zero to 99 can use [this regimen.] Everything else can wait until you are 13 or 14 and are struggling with acne. Then, you can start adding actives like salicylic acids.” Eisenman added, “It terrifies me to hear that 10-year-olds are exfoliating. It is not necessary. It can actually damage their skin barrier.” An example of a product Eisenman doesn’t advise for her core audience is the Moon Walk Exfoliating Serum, launched earlier this year. Bubble’s website states it is recommended for those over 14 and not to “overdo it with exfoliation.” To help retailers educate confused moms in the aisles, Bubble has made videos for retailers where it is sold, including CVS, Ulta Beauty, and Walmart.

Marc Elrick, CEO and Founder, BYOMA

To make finding the right product easy for customers of all ages, BYOMA decodes the ingredients used in its formulas on packaging, at in-store points of sale, and on social channels. “Our goal is to create an easier way of navigating skin care while shopping – helping younger consumers avoid common mistakes and pitfalls made by past generations,” said Marc Elrick, CEO and Founder of BYOMA. Elrick said the focus should be on cleansing, moisturizing, protecting, and overall skin barrier health. BYOMA’s initial seven SKU lineup is gentle enough to be used by a younger demographic with no side effects, he said. “But, there are several products within the portfolio at large, such as our new Sensitive Retinol Oil, that wouldn’t be recommended for teens or young skin.” Young customers are attracted to bright colors rather than ingredients or efficacy, Elrick noted. To address this, the brand launched Skin Barrier Awareness Month on May 1 and has partnered with AI/AR company Revieve on a digital skin care diagnostic tool, Smart Skin Scan. It offers a tailored skin analysis based on age, location, skin type, tone, and texture.

Shani Darden, Founder of Shani Darden Skin Care

“A great skin care routine doesn’t need to be complicated for young kids; it can be as simple as washing your face in the morning and at night, wearing sunscreen every day, and finding a great moisturizer for your skin type,” said Shani Darden, Founder of her eponymous line. The mother of two tweens who has seen first-hand how kids are exposed to skin care regimens on social platforms. One positive outcome of this early exposure is the acceptance of safe sun care at a younger age. “Both of my kids know to reach for their sunscreen every single day without me telling them to.” The only time actives make sense for kids is if they’re struggling with acne. “But you must be careful and should see a dermatologist or esthetician to recommend a routine that will work with their skin. There are a lot of brands that have great products with actives in them, and it’s all about knowing which is best,” she said.


Toyin Graham, Director Global PR of Influencer Marketing, Sol De Janeiro:

“Aggressive anti-aging and resurfacing products aren’t essential for younger consumers unless specifically advised or prescribed by a healthcare professional,” said Toyin Graham, Director Global PR of Influencer Marketing, Sol De Janeiro. The Sol De Janeiro products safe for everyone include the Brazilian Play Moisturizing Shower Cream-Gel and the Iconic Brazilian Bum Bum Cream. For the younger consumer, it’s advisable to avoid the Bom Dia Bright Cream, Bom Dia Bright Clarifying AHA BHA Body Wash, and Bom Dia Body Scrub. “These products contain potent fruit acids, alpha hydroxy acids, and beta hydroxy acids, which are more suitable for older consumers with matured skin,” Graham said. Younger consumers often gravitate towards products that offer them a sense of connection and identity, she explained. “Our Perfume Mist is particularly beloved among this demographic,” Graham said, adding that the range topped holiday lists among Gen Alpha last year.


Jasteena Gill, Vice President of Marketing, CeraVe

CeraVe is one of the most recommended brands by derms, especially for young users. “We are excited to see that younger generations are interested in skin care and prioritize their skin health. This is a big opportunity for brands to educate parents and younger consumers about safe skin care and how to practice dermatologist-recommended habits,” said Jasteena Gill of CeraVe said, adding that the brand encourages dermatologists’ consultations to find the right products. CeraVe’s formulas are rooted in restoration of the skin barrier with three essential ceramides.


Company spokesperson, Drunk Elephant:

There was such a frenzy made over Drunk Elephant by Gen Alpha during the holidays that the brand used Instagram to address whether kids and tweens could use the products. The post listed more than 15 items deemed safe. In a nutshell, Drunk Elephant suggests starting slow, with just a few gentle basics, such as Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser, Lala Retro Whipped Cream Umbra Sheer Sunscreen SPF 30.  Comments on Instagram thanked the brand for its transparency.