Beauty products your children should avoid

While it's fun for preteens to be curious and have fun with the latest beauty offerings, make sure they don't harm themselves, by following these expert tips

03 May 2024 - 12:44
By Thango Ntwasa
Parents are urged not to let pre-teens succumb to beauty trends. Stock image.
Image: 123RF/xixinxing Parents are urged not to let pre-teens succumb to beauty trends. Stock image.

In recent months there has been growing concern about preteens and teenagers using an excessive amount of luxury skincare products. Many of these trending products are age-restricted due to the potential damage they may cause to young people’s skin. In light of this discussion, experts at beauty and wellness marketplace Fresha, have compiled a dos and don’ts guide for preteen skincare routines. 


Retinol has become a popular product on social media widely used by beauty influencers. However, due to the product’s anti-ageing ingredients, it is generally only to be used by people in their mid-20s and older.  

When prescribed by a doctor or a dermatologist, retinol can be used as an acne treatment. Other than this, it is an unnecessary product for preteens because it can have some damaging consequences on juvenile skin.  

Retinol can irritate preteens' skin due to the product’s high acid levels and can cause premature skin damage. The product also reduces the skin’s natural protection against the sun, making retinol users more susceptible to UV rays and sun damage. 


Like retinol, hydroxy acid is typically used to prevent wrinkles and fine lines. Due to the product’s anti-ageing ingredients, it’s generally advised not to be used by people under the age of 25. Due to the product’s high acid levels, preteens should avoid it altogether.  

When used on adolescent skin, hydroxy acid can irritate and worsen skin conditions due to the product’s removal of the top layer of skin cells. Hydroxy acid, like retinol, can also make users more susceptible to lasting sun damage, which is why preteens should avoid it unless prescribed as acne treatment.  

Ultimately, preteens should steer clear of anti-ageing products entirely. As well as causing potential skin damage, anti-ageing products can also spark harmful and premature insecurities about wrinkles and other natural effects of ageing. 


Most exfoliating acids are too harsh to be used on young people’s skin and should be avoided in preteen skincare routines. The products contain high levels of acid, which are intended to remove dead skin cells but irritate preteens' skin. Experts have also suggested exfoliating acids may disrupt the natural skin barrier, causing itching, dryness and skin swelling.  

Again, it’s also risky for preteens to use exfoliating acids due to the increased risk of sun damage, making it a product to avoid in preteens' skincare routines. They can use milder exfoliating acids as acne treatment, but only when advised by a doctor or dermatologist. 


Some benefits of vitamin C serums include reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines and, as such, they aren't necessary for preteens’ skincare routines.  

Skin experts have also debated the safety of vitamin C serums for children’s skin. Some claim they can worsen skin conditions such as eczema due to the products' high acid levels. It’s best to steer clear of expensive serums as the anti-ageing benefits will be unnecessary for preteens. 


Despite the dangers of some viral skincare products, preteen skincare doesn’t have to be an entirely negative subject. It can be positive for preteens to express an interest in looking after their skin, which is why some products can be a great place to start a safe skincare routine. 


Moisturiser is an essential part of many skincare routines and a safe product for preteens. A light layer of moisturiser can improve hydration and prevent dryness, so it’s a great introduction to the world of skincare. 


Applying a pimple patch on a blemish can reduce redness and inflammation, making them a fun and exciting product for preteen skincare routines. 


Due to the popularity of these products on TikTok, many preteens may already be applying SPF products in their skincare routines. #SPF has more than 6-billion views on TikTok and more than 232,000 posts, showing its relevance on social media. 

SPF products are safe and beneficial to incorporate into preteen skincare routines as they provide protection against the sun. SPF should always be the last step in any skincare routine and should be applied at least 20 minutes before going outside for maximum effect. 


Cleansing is an effective way to rid your skin of dirt and oil, making it a reliable breakout preventive. Because of this, mild cleansing products, such as gel cleansers, can be a safe and refreshing part of a preteen skincare routine.  

A spokesperson for Fresha commented: “People must be aware of the risks some skincare products can have on young people’s skin. While preteens and teenagers may be easily swayed by skincare influencers on TikTok, it’s essential to do your research before applying the products you see online.  

“However, preteen skincare doesn’t have to be ruled out completely. It’s positive that more and more youngsters are interested in taking care of their skin thanks to social media, but it’s essential to recognise which products may cause more harm than good and instead stick to safer skincare routines.”