Tweens and make up are a popular conversation in the media. Ever since Walmart and Hello Kitty introduced their new tween cosmetics, even Jay Leno is participating in the dialogue. But the conversation is veering far from where it needs to be. It should not be about make up, and it should certainly not be about anti-aging. The conversation should be about healthy skin.
In the past two weeks I have spoken about tween skin with a number of mothers, a dermatologist, and a pediatrician. The overall consensus from all three groups is that tween girls ARE beautiful: just look at our girls' faces. The challenge is to focus this conversation on healthy skin and how to help tweens keep it.
Keeping skin healthy is simple: daily cleansing, moisturizing and protecting--ideally with products formulated for young girls' skin. No toners, no scrubs, and none of the harsh ingredients found in the teen or adult products. While some mothers feel better about having their daughters use organic products, there is no scientific evidence to support these products' superiority. The important thing is gentle products used regularly to establish a healthy lifelong habit.
When it comes to tweens and make up, both the dermatologist and the pediatrician agreed that all make up should be avoided for as long as possible. The ingredients are too harsh, too soon, and the color pigments unnecessary. While mothers also preferred to hold off make up use for as long as possible, they feel media images, peer pressures and older siblings almost "force" some make up use. Most mothers of tweens of all ages agree that lip gloss is okay, but ideally it should have a sun protection factor. Mothers of older tweens (11+) go along with cheek color and some eye shadow for special occasions.
Tween years are a time of social, emotional, and psychological development. Lifelong habits--good or bad--are established during this period. Cleansing, moisturizing and protecting skin is a healthy skin habit that should live side-by-side with eating right, being active, and establishing good study/work habits.