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The Perils of Preteen Beauty Influencers: TikTok's "Sephora Kids" Trend Raises Health and Mental Concerns

Published February 29, 2024
3 months ago

A wave of pre-teen girls, colloquially known as the "Sephora Kids," are capturing TikTok's attention, prompting health experts to raise red flags. These young influencers, between 8 to 12 years old, are amassing thousands of followers by modeling make-up purchases, particularly from the French beauty retailer Sephora—famously associated with celebrities like Kim Kardashian and her daughter, North West.

These girls, some as young as eight, mimic adult beauty influencers, flaunting their beauty hauls and meticulously reviewing high-end skincare and make-up products. A trend that initially seems like innocent play is turning into a concerning phenomenon that is not only straining wallets—a single moisturizer may tally up to an astonishing 70 euros—but also impacting the mental and physical health of these children.

Skin specialists are alarmed by the content of these viral videos; ingredients such as retinol, prevalent in many of the featured products, are inappropriate for the delicate skin of young children. US dermatologist Danilo Del Campo expressed his dismay at the trust placed in these youthful influencers, often deemed more reliable than medical professionals, leading to an uptick in consultations about skin ailments resulting from improper product use.

The situation raises questions about the responsibility of parents, who seem unaware of the potential risks, and platforms like TikTok that host such content. A Sephora employee openly criticized the level of spending these children are engaged in through an eye-opening TikTok video.

Sephora's parent company, LVMH, has remained mum in the face of requests for comment on this issue.

Michael Stora, a psychoanalyst specializing in online behaviors, pointed out the concerning psychology behind this trend. According to Stora, these girls are not engaging in typical play expected for their age but rather are being objectified—their childhoods glossed over by the makeup they wear. The implication of parents treating their children as accessories in a game-like scenario raises questions about the fetishization of youth and the consequences of such exposure.

The scrutiny comes on the heels of broader societal concerns about children's safety online. Earlier this year, tech giants were hauled before the US Senate Judiciary Committee, accused of failing to protect young users from various online dangers, including exposure to sexual predators and increasing risks of teen suicide.

With the uproar generated by this trend, it's imperative that conversations around child welfare, consumer responsibility, and platform accountability are not only started but actively pursued to ensure the safety and well-being of the youngest members of the online community.

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