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  4. Gen Alpha tweens are fueling sales in skincare. It isn't just because they are worried about wrinkles.

Gen Alpha tweens are fueling sales in skincare. It isn't just because they are worried about wrinkles.

Lindsay Dodgson   

Gen Alpha tweens are fueling sales in skincare. It isn't just because they are worried about wrinkles.
  • Gen Alpha tweens are driving a surge in skincare sales, spending significantly in Sephora stores.
  • Gen Alphas that BI spoke with weren't convinced antiaging was behind their enthusiasm.

Gen Alpha is fueling sales in skincare, with many tweens blowing their pocket money on expensive cosmetics.

It could be that they are just the latest generation plagued by worries of aging, made all the worse by social media.

Gen Alpha tweens who spoke with Business Insider are unconvinced that fear of aging is behind their new obsession. They simply love the feel of the products and the act of comparing their new purchases with one another.

But skincare and marketing experts point to body image, social media's emphasis on antiaging, and targeted ads as possible reasons driving the trend, as well as the insecurities of the generations above trickling down and shaping the mental health of the youngest age group.

Gen Alpha's spending power

By all accounts, Gen Alpha is going to be a mighty generation of big spenders.

They're already getting started. Instead of gloopy, bright pink Barbie makeup and garish colorful eyeshadow palettes that millennials and some Gen Zers bought growing up, Gen Alphas — aged 14 and under — are saving up for cosmetics that set them back $50-$100 each or more.

Earlier this year, a report by the consumer behavior data company NIQ found that 49% of the mass growth in skincare sales in 2023 in the US was driven by Gen Alpha. US households with tweens aged between six and 12 grew their skincare sales by 27.2% that year, the report found.

On TikTok, "Sephora" tweens have been enraging older generations, who claim kids are buying up all the sought-after products, clogging up the aisles, and messing up displays.

This has culminated in them earning the slightly disparaging label of "10-year-old girls in Sephora" as millennials and Zoomers brandish them as "insane" and "out of control."

But Gen Alpha skincare enthusiasts are taking their newfound habit seriously.

Janice Miller, a VP at the marketing agency The Bliss Group, told BI her 13-year-old daughter and friends spend "a huge amount of money" on skincare products at Sephora and Ulta Beauty.

"She gets up an hour before I do to do her skincare regimen in the morning, and she also has a regimen at night and never misses it," Miller said.

When Miller asked her daughter what she likes about buying skincare, she said she started getting interested in it because she had acne a couple of years ago. It cleared up after visiting a dermatologist, who recommended special creams, as well as medicated sunscreen and moisturizer. After seeing the effects, she was hooked.

"Whenever there's a special occasion, I ask my parents to get me products, and my friends also give me products, and we sometimes trade," she said. "I had about $1,000 saved up last year, but I've spent most of it on products, so I don't have any money left."

Jenny Grant Rankin, an educational researcher and author, told BI her 14-year-old daughter, Piper Virginia Rankin, also spends all her money on skincare.

Piper told BI she started getting interested in it when she was 11, from family, friends, and social media, and now her routine makes her feel "comfortable, confident, and hygienic."

Usually, she gets her recommendations from her peers on social media, she said.

Antiaging products

Medical and marketing experts are noticing a skincare boom, too.

Valerie Aparovich, a certified cosmetologist-aesthetician and the science team lead at the skincare product scanner OnSkin, told BI there has been "unprecedented Gen Alpha engagement" on the app this year.

Aparovich said she has seen Gen Alpha girls posting "get ready with me" videos on YouTube and TikTok, where they show off and recommend the skincare products they use.

Shayan Cheraghlou, a resident physician at NYU School of Medicine, told BI skincare is a "huge trend" that he has observed at pediatric dermatology clinics, but with a concerning side effect.

"I've seen kids using expensive vitamin C serums that are completely unnecessary for their age group," he said, as well as some antiaging products, such as retinol, that can damage young skin.

There isn't a simple answer to why anyone aged 14 and under is interested in antiaging products.

Miller and Rankin's daughters both said antiaging wasn't something they thought about during their beauty hauls. It may be that young consumers don't understand the difference between the products that are beneficial and the ones that aren't.

However, a recent study by the wellness brand Thorne and YouGov looked into Gen Alpha's sentiment around aging. The survey of nearly 3,000 respondents included 537 US-based 13- to 17-year-olds who were asked about antiaging, skincare, and beauty.

The study found that 15% of the Gen Alpha kids felt depressed about aging and that 51% of them would spend more than $100 a month to slow or combat aging, compared to 24% of millennials and 15% of Gen Z.

Gen Alphas surveyed were also four times more worried about wrinkles and fine lines than other generations.

Where influences lie

It may be that Gen Alpha kids are learning from their parents as children of millennials and Gen Zers.

Zoomers under age 30 are helping drive demand for injectables such as filler and Botox, BI's Eve Upton-Clark reported, with tweakments being the latest status symbol. The number of Botox injections in the US, in particular, jumped by 73% between 2019 and 2022.

It's "worth noting" that millennials were the ones to popularize "get ready with me" content and makeup tutorials on social media, Dr. Geeta Yadav, a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of FACET Dermatology, told BI.

She said she thinks children in Gen Alpha have been influenced by content creators and their older relatives, similar to how Y2K fashion is having a resurgence.

Dr. Yadav said she thinks there is some component of anxiety regarding aging with this trend, and older generations could be partially to blame.

"Those who came of age in the early 00s and before were subjected to horribly aggressive and demeaning beauty standards, which damaged a lot of women's self-esteem and self-image," she said.

Learning not to pass along that messaging, which is deeply ingrained, can be incredibly difficult, she added.

There have been positive shifts regarding beauty standards, more size inclusivity, and young consumers demanding more skin tone diversity and range with their products. But "aging is one hurdle that we have yet to cross," Dr. Yadav said, especially with so many advances in skincare that make people look younger for longer.

"As millennials continue to age and continue to obsess about looking young, that can send a very loud message to Gen Alpha about aging and beauty standards," she said.

Alexandra Forsyth, a consumer retail and cyber security expert at AFRG, told BI she doesn't believe Gen Alphas are particularly interested in antiaging, but brands are pushing their messaging onto them.

"This raises eyebrows but also prompts serious questions about the influences shaping this young generation," she said.

Forsyth said children, sometimes as young as seven or eight, are posting about their skincare routines. Some tweens spoke with Mashable about their adult skincare habits, and one, named Maeve, suggested the fad was more about having what everyone else has.

"I didn't know I wanted it, and then when I see that someone else has it and how they use it, I realize it's something I'd actually use a lot," she said.

So it may be that they're doing much of the heavy lifting of marketing campaigns themselves.

"It's not necessarily that they're looking toward older people to influence them," Forsyth said. "They're influencing each other."


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