The Cosmetic Market Has a New Target: Children

By: Lauren Fokas | Published: Jan 28, 2024

As many know, social media has drastically been changing the world we live in, including creating jobs for “influencers,” decreasing attention spans, and, most recently, increasing young people’s interest in cosmetics.

Tweens have become obsessed with skincare and makeup, flooding cosmetic stores, and even changing the way companies market their products. Many agree that it may actually be becoming a problem.

Social Media Has Made Tweens Obsessed with Beauty Products

Younger and younger children are using social media these days, and their uncensored access to excessive information regarding skincare and beauty products has sparked a generation-wide obsession. 

Screenshot of a YouTube video of a young girl explaining makeup shopping at Sephora

Source: @The Weiss Life/YouTube

And because of these sites’ algorithms, they see more influencers promoting brands and encouraging purchasing every day. 

Tweens Are Naturally Sensitive about Their Personal Appearance

For those who don’t remember being 11 or 12 years old, it is a time full of self-doubt and, most commonly, concerns about one’s physical appearance.

Pre-teen girl sitting on stairs feeling sad

Source: Freepik

Founding director of Georgia State University’s Social Media Intelligence Lab, Dr. Denish Shah, explained in a recent statement, “Tweens are preoccupied with personal appearance. They’re very, very self-conscious in terms of how their growing bodies are going to turn out and about their developing self-identity.”

Gen Alpha Is Now Making the Videos They Love to Watch

While the majority of Gen Alpha-ers have simply become consumed by watching TikTok and Instagram videos about beauty products, many of them have started making their own clips.

Three young girls putting makeup on

Source: Freepik

Most are “Get ready with me” videos, in which young tweens talk to their followers while getting ready for the day via a detailed skincare and makeup routine. And some of these youths are even making money off their videos.

These Youngsters Are “Flooding” Cosmetic Stores

In order to be like their idols or even become a “skinfluencer” themselves, these kids need a plethora of beauty products.

Ulta Beauty store in Seal Beach, California

Source: Getty Images

And while many buy their favorites online, the vast majority are heading to their local beauty supply stores, such as Ulta and Sephora, to purchase as many products as their allowance will let them.

Adults Are Taking to Social Media to Complain About It

On social media sites such as TikTok and Instagram, many adult users have started posting videos complaining that Gen Alpha shoppers are flooding their favorite stores.

Screenshot of @gigipimpin explaining the experience of a Sephora employee assisting tween girls

Source: @gigipimpin/TikTok

They’re also noting that the kids are not respectful shoppers. Some say that the 11 and 12-year-old girls are rude to other customers as well as store employees, while others report that they mess up displays and even take products from other shoppers’ hands.


Comedic Clips Making Fun of the Young Shoppers Have Also Become Popular

In addition to the many complaints littering the internet, there are also clips circulating that poke fun at the young shoppers for their social faux pas.

Screenshot of @itsjennalu’s TikTok video about 12-year-olds shopping at Sephora

Source: @itsjennalu/TikTok

One of the ongoing jokes is that these young girls are not only purchasing makeup and standard face wash but also products that are specifically geared toward aging adults, such as retinol and anti-aging eye creams.


Are These Products Dangerous for Young Skin?

Of course, this is certainly a concern among dermatologists and parents alike, as retinol and anti-aging products could potentially be dangerous for young skin.

Young person using retinol serum on their face

Source: Freepik

In fact, the National Institute of Health recently released a report that states, “long-term therapy with retinoids may result in skeletal abnormalities, and the “chronic use of retinoids in children may inhibit their growth due to premature epiphyseal closure.”


How This New Reality Is Changing the Cosmetic Industry

While this new reality is undoubtedly affecting the next generation, it’s also influencing the cosmetic industry as a whole.

CVS store’s beauty display

Source: CVS

Many companies, such as e.l.f. Cosmetics and Drunk Elephant have begun actively marketing to tweens. And companies such as CVS and Walgreens are focusing on reorganizing their stores to have tween-favored cosmetics in the front.


Tween Products Are on the Rise

Certain companies, such as Drunk Elephant, have started creating entire lines and marketing campaigns for tweens, whereas other companies are appealing to an even younger age group.

Promotional photo of Bora Barrier Repair Cream by Drunk Elephant

Source: DrunkElephant

In fact, one company, Yawn, started making make-up and skincare for children as young as 3 years old. 


Companies Marketing to the Younger Demographic Are Seeing Significant Profit Increases

While it may seem like a strange tactic, the companies that are focusing on promoting their products to teens are already seeing significant increases in profits. 

Promotional photograph of e.l.f. Cosmetics products

Source: @elfcosmetics/Facebook

For example, e.l.f. Cosmetics’ stock price has increased by 203% this year. Dr. Shah said, “The company’s sales have increased exponentially over the past year, and that’s significant because they position themselves as really affordable cosmetics. And if you look at their marketing efforts, they’re all targeted toward that tween demographic.”


The Cosmetic Industry May See Drastic Changes in the Near Future

According to Statista, the baby and child skincare market is expected to grow to $500 million with an almost unbelievable 299.4 million users by 2028.

Exterior of a Sephora store

Source: Mario Tama/Getty Images

So, while people will continue to complain about their Sephora stores being crowded with tweens, and parents worry that their children are using too many products too soon, the entire cosmetic industry will also see some big changes in the next few years.