Dermatologist warns over rise in ‘irritating’ anti-aging products targeted at preteens

A concerning number of children are seeking out skincare products intended for adults, including products focused on fine lines and anti-ageing, a dermatologist has said. The growing trend of children and teenagers asking their parents to buy them gifts of expensive eye creams and anti-ageing sera has come from social media marketing on sites like TikTok, Prof Anne Marie Tobin said. Tobin is a consultant dermatologist at Tallaght Hospital, Dublin and vice chair at the Irish Skin Foundation, a national charity providing help to people with skin conditions. “I see adults mostly and I have had patients who got that request at Christmas from their children for therapeutic skincare products,” she said. Jennifer O’Connell: Voting yes is another step to dismantling a society where women’s lives didn’t matter In one case, the parent bought an expensive cream for their child, and the child “was allergic to it, but they had spent a considerable amount of money on it”. “There is a lot of focus on fine lines and anti-ageing. It’s coming from TikTok. If you go online, there are loads of videos about using retinols and eye sera. Children don’t need that kind of skincare,” Tobin said. “They need to use something pretty bland. There’s loads of good ranges in pharmacies or supermarkets. If children want to take care of their skin, just a very simple wash and moisturiser is all they need.” Children have sensitive skin, particularly if they’re fair skinned, and the ingredients in therapeutic skincare ranges are “very drying and irritating” for them, Tobin said. [ ‘It was carnage’: Why schools are powering off students’ smartphones ] “It’s absolutely crazy. It’s also implanting the image of preventing ageing in ten year olds. I think it’s quite cynical and people are very much targeting preteens who have become a market for these things”. The trend is “pretty recent” and only emerged “since around last Christmas time”, Tobin said. “A lot of people at Christmas were reporting that their children, especially their daughters, were looking for some expensive ranges of skincare. You could be talking in the range of €40 per product,” Tobin explained. These products were “not going to do what they’re intended to do” for children, as often they’re targeted at problems children don’t have, such as fine lines, and the products would “only irritate their skin” as a result. [ Scalpcare: The beauty trend that is here to stay ] It was not possible to know if the use of these products at a young age could cause lasting damage, but Tobin was “more worried about the psychological aspect on children”. “To be so worried about ageing at such a young age is really difficult. It’s telling them there’s something wrong with them and stigmatising ageing, which is so wrong and cynical,” she added. There were other “gimmicky” trends emerging, such as “skin care fridges”, which are small fridges advertised for the purpose of storing skincare products. “That’s irrational and I don’t agree with it at all. Parents should try and avoid their children becoming a target of this,” Tobin said. Children were easier targets for new trends without evidence behind them and there were “influencers online who are very not opaque about their commercial incentive … I don’t think children can appreciate that they’re pushing something because of that”. The Irish Skin Foundation has a number of resources at If parents are worried, they can also make an appointment to speak with a dermatology nurses at Ask-a-Nurse Helpline. Sign up for push alerts and have the best news, analysis and comment delivered directly to your phone Find The Irish Times on WhatsApp and stay up to date Our In The News podcast is now published daily – Find the latest episode here

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