Grace was just 10 years old when she first became interested in skincare.

“I just saw some people online and I was interested and wanted to try it out,” she says.

Now aged 13, her skin routine includes a facial cleanser and moisturiser.

She also uses hyaluronic acid and niacinamide products designed to help the skin retain moisture, although she is trying to use those less.

“I know it’s not very good for your skin if you’re using too much of it,” Grace says.

Grace became interested in skincare at a young age.(BTN High: Joseph Baronio)

Grace admits she spends a lot on moisturisers and skincare.

“Around like $90 for maybe … one thing,” she says, but her interest in lotions and potions is not unique.

She knows kids as young as eight or nine at primary school who have a skincare regime.

“All my friends have skincare,” Grace says.

A boom in beauty

While cosmetics have been around for thousands of years, the world is currently in the middle of beauty market boom.

Global sales increased by nearly $100 billion between 2020 and 2022, according to a McKinsey report, and those numbers are still going up.

Between now and 2028, revenue from the baby and child skincare market is expected to grow at rate of nearly 6 per cent each year, according to business intelligence platform Statista.

Social media is alive with so-called skinfluencers sharing their beauty routines, promoting products and posting “get ready with me” videos, known as GRWMs.

Dr Michelle Wong, a chemist who debunks skincare myths online via her online persona Lab Muffin Beauty Science, says skinfluencers aren’t necessarily targeting children but kids are consuming their content.

“A lot of younger people are seeing these messages about anti-aging, about wrinkles, about protecting your skin … when it’s not actually a message meant for them,” she says.

Michelle Wong has a PhD in chemistry.(Supplied: Michelle Wong)

Sephora kids

On TikTok, tweens who love skincare have even been given a name — Sephora kids.

For the unfamiliar, Sephora is a beauty retailer with storefronts and an online presence that sits in the market alongside names like Mecca and Adore Beauty.

A search for the phrase, Sephora kids, on social media will bring up videos from grumpy retailers and shoppers bemoaning the presence of tweens in major cosmetics stores, and children posting GRWMs.

Sophia, from Adelaide, says girls are spending money unnecessarily.(BTN High: Che Chorley/ABC News: Sharon Gordon)

“All those little girls, they’re coming into Sephora … and just spending a lot of money on skincare and beauty products that they don’t necessarily need,” says 15-year-old Sophia.

Grace says she’s learned what products to avoid the hard way.

“Once I bought this thing … and it burned my skin and my face went red,” she says.

“And then I got all these little bumps all over my face.

Grace has a daily skincare routine.(BTN High: Joseph Baronio)

“I think I might have stolen mum’s [skincare] before … just like, thick moisturisers and heavy things.

“My skin was a bit irritated and red … I was crying at one stage because it was so painful.”

The value of the worldwide beauty mark continues to grow.(BTN High: Joseph Baronio)

Anti-aging overkill

Dr Wong says adult skincare products, particularly those touted as anti-aging like retinol — a type of vitamin A, are at best unnecessary for children and at worst damaging.

“Our skin really reaches its peak in terms of things like collagen, which is one of the proteins in your skin that keeps it smooth and bouncy, about your mid-20s,” she says.

“If you are … significantly younger than that, like 10 [years old], then there’s just no real need for these sorts of products and they can actually cause damage to your skin.

“When we’re young, like early teens, the outermost layer of our skin is thinner, which means it’s not as resilient and introducing products can irritate it.”

Amalia, aged 14, says some teens are too eager to grow up.

Amalia, from Adelaide, says there’s a problem with teens wanting to act too old.(BTN High: Che Chorley/ABC News: Sharon Gordon)

“Because it’s trendy and people want to act older than they actually are … I think that’s kind of the problem,” she says.

Dr Wong says retinol can be helpful for pimples.

“If you’re getting acne, then that’s probably around the time when you can start getting benefits from it, but if you’re younger, then there’s no real point,” she says.

More sensitive to the sun

Products with exfoliating acids are also potentially problematic for young skin, according to Dr Wong.

“These are ingredients like glycolic acid and lactic acid,” she says.

“These, again, are good for anti-aging and for acne, but the problem is … you’ll go into the sun and you’ll get burned more easily.

“And if you get sunburned below the age of 18, your melanoma risk actually increases a whole bunch.”

It’s a message 16-year-old Callula has heard before.

Callula, from Adelaide, says teens are getting too much information from social media.(BTN High: Che Chorley/ABC News: Sharon Gordon)

“[Some skincare products] can be very damaging if you don’t need them, or if you had the wrong skin type — and I think a lot of kids don’t really understand that,” she says.

“They’re just like, ‘Oh, that looks good. I saw that on social media. I’ll just use that’.”

Do tweens need any skincare products?

So what products, if any, are appropriate for young skin?

Anne Halbert is a member of the Australasian College of Dermatologists.(Supplied: Anne Halbert)

Perth dermatologist Anne Halbert recommends teens use an oil-free sunscreen in the morning.

“Good sun protection is the best anti-aging protection,” she says.

Dr Wong agrees.

“I think that is a really good skincare product to add to anyone’s routine, as long as you’re over six months of age,” she says.

Toners are completely unnecessary, according to Dr Halbert, and not everybody needs a moisturiser.

“They should only moisturise if their skin is dry,” she says.

And high prices don’t equal a better product.

Grace has this affirmation written on her mirror.(BTN High: Joseph Baronio)

Dr Halbert says while a simple routine is best for young faces, she doesn’t see a huge problem with teens experimenting with skincare. 

“If something doesn’t agree with their skin, they stop using it very rapidly,” Dr Halbert says.

“I’m more interested in guiding them not to spend.”