Photo: Iryna Dincer (Shutterstock)
Maybe you already realize this, but puberty is wild. From the ages of about 9 to 12, tweens are trying to figure out how to function in the world even while everything about them changes. So who can blame them for zoning out to TikTok and maybe picking up some skincare tips from Northie at the same time? While North West may have access to every product under the sun, but we wanted to ask an actual dermatologist what the average tween needs to keep their skin healthy. Here’s what we learned.
Start them early
No, baby doesn’t need an antioxidant serum, but it’s never too early to start teaching about skincare and products.
“At a young age, begin talking to your child about their skin during bath time. This is an excellent opportunity to teach them about their skin and how to take care of it properly,” board-certified dermatologist Aanand Geria said. “Let them explore the texture of products such as shampoo, lotion, body wash, and moisturizer. When doing your skincare routine, have your child next to you, allowing them to ask questions and participate.”
Upgrade their bath schedule
Controversial take, perhaps, but little kids can actually get away with 1-2 baths a week if they aren’t getting sweaty and dirty every day. Did we mention puberty changes everything? Time to gently tell your bigger kid they need a daily bathing and skincare routine.
Make it fun with a trip to buy “grown up” (but still gentle) cleansers and moisturizers. You can find multi-step tween skincare kits with masks and serums, but all your 9-to-12 year old really needs is a basic cleanser and moisturizer. (Try traditional drugstore basics from CeraVe or Cetaphil.)
“It can be helpful for tweens to start getting into the habit of a skincare routine,” Geria said. “At this age, tweens are battling hormones that can cause breakouts and acne. A tween’s skincare routine regimen should include bathing daily with a gentle cleanser, followed by a moisturizer.”
Give them step-by-step guidance
Assuming they haven’t already learned more about skincare from TikTok than you did from a decade of reading Seventeen magazine, break skincare down for your tween into these simple steps from the American Academy of Dermatology :
- Wet your face with warm water and use your fingertips to apply a gentle cleanser.
- Don’t scrub!
- Rinse with warm water and pat dry.
- Apply a gentle moisturizer.
Beyond the basics
Wear sunscreen! Freckle filters are cute, but sun damage doesn’t age well.
“It’s also important to apply sunscreen every morning and throughout the day for those with sensitive skin,” Geria said.
And at some point, pre-teen hormones will inevitably lead to oily faces and breakouts or clogged pores.
“Tweens go through puberty at different rates. If a tween is entering puberty, their skin is likely to be oilier than someone who is a later developer. For the former, more anti-acne measures might be appropriate to mitigate oily skin and clogged pores,” Geria said.
Nightly face washing with a mild cleanser should be enough to handle mild acne, Geria said, but kids with more serious breakouts may need a product with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Since those ingredients can dry skin, moisturizer is key.
Caution! What to avoid
Geria recommends tweens avoid the following ingredients because they may be too harsh or cause rashes on young skin:
- Exfoliating products
Finally, teach them early that picking at bumps is no good for glowing (and growing) skin.
“Keeping a hands-off policy when it comes to the face will also help to prevent tweens from picking at and irritating acne that can worsen breakouts,” Geria said.