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Tweens and Beauty: Why It's More Than Just Makeup!

Tweens and Beauty: Why It's More Than Just Makeup!

Forget stereotypes! Tweens and beauty go hand-in-hand, but it's about more than just makeup. This exciting phase is all about exploring who they are and expressing themselves creatively. Let’s check the positive aspects of beauty exploration for tweens.

Tweens Are Obsessed With Makeup and Skincare—Here’s Why I’m on Board

Hint: it's a great tool in building self-confidence and teaching self-care.

My daughter Mila is a newly minted tween—she is in the third grade and just turned 9 years old—and almost overnight I noticed a shift. A sign that screams “No boys allowed—except daddy” now hangs on her door. We must go clothes shopping together or everything I pick out promptly gets returned. Apparently, I don’t know her “style” (which means no denim). And, instead of nightly baths, she now indulges in hour-long showers where she stands under the hot water to “relax.” 

Meanwhile, the phrase “Sephora Tweens” started popping up all over my newsfeed and social media posts. I was intrigued yet nervous to delve more into what that actually means. I barely splurge on makeup or face creams that aren't sold at CVS so the idea of my 9-year-old having “good” makeup and knowing her way around Sephora made me laugh. Until I did some research.

“Sephora Tweens” have taken over Instagram and TikTok, sharing their skincare routines, unboxing their massive makeup hauls, and giving detailed, expert level tutorials. I conducted an unofficial survey on my Facebook page and was shocked to discover so many friends are moms to “Sephora Tweens.”

I learned these tweens love hanging at Sephora (obviously), Target, and browsing on Amazon. They’re loyal to brands such as e.l.f and Drunk Elephant—but not opposed to dupes (a Vaseline lip mask instead of the pricey Laneige or try Trader Joe’s body butter before splurging on Sol de Janeiro!).

Alison Seyal, of Fairfield, Connecticut, says her 10-year-old daughter, Mila, loves products like Byoma’s pink moisturizer, Mario Badescu facial spray, and Summer Fridays lip butter balm—and earns the money to buy these pricey products by babysitting for her siblings or doing chores around the house. 

Other “Sephora Tweens” will ask for gift cards or the latest trending products for birthday and holiday gifts. While my daughter has yet to add makeup or skincare to her wish lists, she’s obsessed with regular manicures (I should mention that she does know the difference between regular and gel), has started a massive clear lip gloss collection, and won’t let me touch her hair—she insists on styling/brushing it herself.

With “Sephora Tweens” trending, it made me wonder: what if she wants to become one? Is this makeup/skincare obsession another sign that Gen Alpha kids are maturing way too early, or is this a good thing since it teaches the importance of self-confidence and self-care? Turns out, being a "Sephora Tween" is not always a bad thing.

Skincare Can Be a Plus for Hygiene

Taking care of your skin shouldn't be taboo, no matter your age or gender. “Proper skincare is just as important for tweens and teens to understand and practice as is brushing their teeth, washing their hair, and caring for their bodies," says Elise Tabin, co-founder of TWiiSH, a tween/teen specific skincare line that intentionally features just two products—a clear gel cleanser and clear gel spot treatment.

Skincare routines can help keep skin healthy and may prevent future issues.1 But it’s important to note that tween/teen skin is delicate and if your tween wants to begin a routine of their own, they shouldn’t use the same products as adults.

Tabin doesn't believe that your skin should be inundated with unnecessary ingredients and products because “TikTok tells you otherwise.” The two TWiiSH products treat the most common needs of tween and teen skin—getting them on the right track to wash regularly and treat breakouts as they occur.

For some tweens, a good skincare routine has become a non-negotiable part of their after school activities and passions in the same way an athlete must learn to stretch.

Jennifer Yourman, of Forest Hills, New York, noticed that her 11-year-old daughter, Ali, started paying attention to skincare after her second year of sleepaway camp. Her post shower routine—that she often does over FaceTime with a friend—includes a mix of moisturizers, eye cream, and serums.

Kristen Gospodinoff, of Stamford, Connecticut, noticed her 11-year-old daughter, Emma, also found her love of skincare and makeup after becoming close with her college-aged counselors at camp. Emma doesn’t follow a strict routine but “if she sees something online or from a friend she’ll usually make a big deal about it until she gets it,” Gospodinoff explains. “She’ll do it for a little while and move on—she’s not one to stick with a routine just yet. But she always wants to try the newest things.”

On the flip side, Inna Lapin, of Boca Raton, Florida, introduced her now 10-year-old daughter to skincare when she was 7 because she’s a dancer who often wears makeup for dance rehearsals and competitions. “I felt it was important for her to know how to properly cleanse her skin and start her on a regime of washing/cleansing her skin and applying skincare daily,” says Lapin.

Skincare can be expensive, though, and not every product may be suitable for your kid, so doing research and speaking with experts is always a good idea.

Makeup Can Teach Self-Expression

Recently, my daughter came downstairs ready to start her day in a full face of makeup. We’re talking blue eyeshadow, bright red lips, and hot pink cheeks. She mistook the shock on my face as pride. “What do you think, Mommy?” she asked with a big smile. “I used the Barbie makeup kit I got for Hanukkah.”

I took a deep breath, worrying about the looks I would get at the grocery store for allowing my young daughter to go out in public like that. “You can’t wear makeup out of the house!” I stammered. “Why?” she asked. “You wear makeup.” Touchè but I am a 40-something-year-old mom who, until recently, barely knew blush from highlighter. 

But there are tweens who inherently seem to understand the nuances of applying makeup and wearing it as a way to enhance features—not cover them up.

Sandi McGrogan's daughter, Riley, is in the third grade and on track to becoming a beauty influencer. Riley has an Instagram page (McGrogan runs the account) where she reviews products, gives tips, and shares her favorite finds, which are always on a budget.

Riley’s daily routine includes washing her face with cleanser, toner, and serum, using a moisturizer mixed with the Bronzi Drops, and applying sunscreen. “She only wears lip gloss to school and wears makeup for special occasions—where she only wants natural looks,” McGrogan explains. “Riley’s very confident in her skin and thinks she is just as smart and kind as she is pretty. She actually gets upset if I put foundation on over my freckles; she loves our freckles.” 

So, if kids are seeing makeup as a positive addition to their lives and a way to express themselves, I say, why not?

Being a ‘Sephora Tween’ Can Build Confidence

I've realized there’s no handbook on how to teach our daughters to be confident and embrace their physical appearance. My daughter astounds me with astute observations that “everyone is beautiful and unique” or whenever she’s feeling overwhelmed or overstimulated she inherently knows that self-care and downtime will help.

So, it was inspiring that the moms of “Sephora Tweens” I spoke with were not worried or concerned. They were all grateful and proud that finding an early love and appreciation of skincare and makeup is providing their daughters great life lessons and tools.

Rebecca Cangiano Circo, of Oceanside, New York, has bonded with her 11-year-old daughter, Lia, over their shared love of skincare and makeup. “I can thank TikTok for all of this but it’s not all bad. She is confident and owns it,” says Circo. “I love makeup too and we love to play with it together and talk; many deep conversations have come out of that.”

McGrogan agrees, adding, “We should be building our daughters up and if skincare makes them feel confident, I’m all for it!”

The confidence surge that a good skincare routine can provide is another important reason why Tabin created TWiiSH. “For some, having a few minutes to relish in the act of a skincare routine is enough of a feel-good moment to give them a boost of self-confidence. For others, the results they garner through regular skincare when they use appropriate products make them feel more confident in their skin,” Tabin explains. “We all have sentiments about how we feel when we do things for ourselves that we enjoy and make us feel good.”

Of course, it's important to point out that not every tween's experience with makeup and skincare will be positive. Trends like these on social media can also negatively impact body image.2 Tweens can fall victim to social comparison and even feel inadequate.3 Plus, a 2022 study found most parents of kids 8 to 18 said their child is self-conscious about their appearance, with acne/skin being the biggest concern.4 

Trying to teach good social media habits and having discussions with your kids about how it can impact mental health is important. It doesn't hurt to get involved in their interests either—or get ahead of it.

I decided to do my own boots on the ground research and took my daughter and one of her school friends for a hang at Sephora in our local mall. They were super excited but a little intimidated—until they completed their first lap around the store. Then they were bubbling with questions about products—what they were for and how to use them—and found their groove, squealing while trying blush, lipgloss, and eyeshadow—noting which colors popped, which sparkled, and which were “too much.”

The biggest hit was the perfume section (full disclosure, I did let it drop that Viktor and Rolf’s Flowerbomb is supposedly Taylor Swift’s signature scent and they couldn't get over how “cool” Carolina Herrera’s stiletto-shaped bottle looked). When I brought them over to the skincare section—explaining how important it was to wash their face, especially when you wear makeup—they were nonplussed.

“This is boring—we can just use soap in the shower!” they both exclaimed. But then they became mesmerized by a scrub that was hot pink and “smelled amazing” so I know the “Sephora Tween” transformation is imminent. 

Empower your tween to explore their unique beauty! Creativity, building confidence, having fun -- we're all about it! Browse our selection of toxic free beauty products and order now! Join our Instagram community here for more tips.