Why are school children using anti-ageing skincare products

teenage girl looking in a mirror concerned

A new trend shows that younger and younger people are worried about ageing

Are children really using anti-ageing products? Our children fear hitting 30, let alone 50. And it has become increasingly apparent that anti-ageing products and plastic surgery is rife amongst Gen Z and Alpha.

A quick look at TikTok will horrify you on this score. Many young people and even children touting and posting the use of anti-ageing products. But with all the positive ageing messaging we have now, why are our kids terrified of ageing? What is going on?

We’ve faced our fair share of beauty standards across the decades. And we know that some days it’s easier than others to embrace the fine lines and love the wrinkles. But we also know ageing has its own beauty. The tales of laughter, late nights talking, and a life well-enjoyed are in every laughter line. We are increasingly able to celebrate the evidence of a life well lived.

Even mainstream media figures are saying a big eff-you to outdated beauty messages

Over the past decade or so, our acceptance of the ageing process has powered a pro-ageing movement. And this is particularly evident in the beauty industry. Products now support maturing skin with a pro-ageing message, rather than shaming it with ‘anti-ageing’ ranges.

Even mainstream media figures are saying a big eff-you to outdated beauty messages, and the idea that women become past it once they hit a certain look or age. Check out Nicole Kidman in 2022’s Vanity Fair cover, or And Just Like That normalising women over 50 wearing bold prints and trendy items and unashamed grey hair. We’re – thankfully – getting miles away from the phrase ‘dress your age.’ And hey, Pamela Anderson, I’m looking at you, with your fresh-faced confidence… you go girl!

So why is it, that with a generation of older women – older people in fact – to look up to, who are openly embracing maturity and challenging the idea that beauty is reserved for the young, we’re seeing under 30s getting Botox and plastic surgery? Meanwhile, even more worrying, under 18s are so afraid of a single fine line, they’re putting anti-ageing skincare on their Christmas wish lists.

Packing plastic

People are cutting and injecting themselves for cosmetic purpose more than ever before. Plastic surgery procedures increased by 102 per cent in 2022. With breast augmentation, tummy tucks, and liposuction being the most popular among women, who made up 93 per cent.

Nose jobs, chest reductions, and eyelid adjustments were top dog among the men who went under the knife. Under 34s are the highest demographic undergoing breast augmentation procedures.

The number of young people investing in preventative Botox has also increased, with many in their mid-twenties getting the injections to keep wrinkles at bay.

‘Preventative Botox’ has become a hot topic online. The hashtag for Botox has over one million videos on TikTok, with the top videos amassing 2-4 million views.

Over two-thirds of TikTok’s usership is made up of 18-34-year-olds. Young people are engaging in content which positions Botox and other cosmetic procedures as standard, common even. When you’re seeing countless people sharing their experience or recommendations for fillers, it’s gradually going to become as trivial as trying the latest viral foundation. Perhaps it’s just a way to try and get a face that looks like it’s filtered in real life?

Attainable attraction

In the eighties and nineties, you’d really only see augmented beauty in magazines, or posters. These days, Gen Z and Alpha open their phones and are confronted with endless images of influencers and celebrities. Many of these faces are supporting plumped lips, refined noses, and sculpted jaws. Never mind the filters that give you flawless skin, or even a full face of makeup. With this pressure from infinitely tweaked faces, it seems young people have become afraid of their natural, asymmetrical beauty, warping what is considered attractive.

Once considered an exclusive and unattainable way to update appearances, treatments are far more accessible to the wider population

The invention of silicon and cosmetic technologies in the sixties led to the rich and famous adjusting their appearance through cosmetic surgery. Once considered an exclusive and unattainable way to update appearances, treatments are far more accessible to the wider population. Botox injections can set you back by as little as £100 in the UK (essentially the price of a new coat, or a pair of trainers). Plus, medical tourism offers cheaper prices for these procedures, making for an appealing option – after all, you get a built-in holiday too.

Over the last decade, we’ve seen the discussions around medical beauty treatments everywhere. The Kardashians discussing their lip fillers, surgeons online breaking down a celebrity’s latest cosmetic work, and Love Island contestants sharing what they’ve had done. When you feel like everyone’s doing it, it’s understandable more people will gravitate towards it. Attitudes change, as cosmetic surgery has gone from being perceived as exclusive to something everyone can do.

teenage girl applying face cream whilst wearing a dressing gown

Alpha’s anti-ageing frenzy

Although these treatments are illegal to perform on under 18s, that hasn’t stopped Gen Alpha from getting involved with anti-ageing effects. Earlier this year, dermatologists spoke out about the dangers of parents buying their children skincare products with highly active ingredients.

This comes from the recent boom of tweens pining after expensive retinol and vitamin C serums. Online trends where young women share their ‘get unready with me’ (GRWM) routines are packed with colourfully packaged products with fun names, like Watermelon Glow Serum, which contains hyaluronic acid. These products aren’t necessary for young skin, and can damage their sensitive faces.

Whilst part of Gen Alpha’s motivation may be to assimilate with the online community of women sharing their routines, the attraction to ‘anti-ageing’ results is worrying. Children shouldn’t be worrying about signs of ageing; in fact no one should be worried about it. For far too long youth has been equated with beauty and worth, and it’s causing anxiety and harm to our children and grandchildren.

I can’t help but wonder, with existing concerns of social media impacting mental health and self-worth on the young now, will that intensify as they do age and develop a tapestry of life experience on their skin? I can’t believe children are already using anti-ageing products I’m only in my 20s and I feel the pressure. It’s everywhere.

Impacts on ageism

Fears of ageing shouldn’t be intensifying, but lessening. I’d hoped that the next generation would learn from the OGs here. After all, maturity should be championed and seen as a blessing, rather than something to slap plaster on. And certainly not something to be avoided by pumping chemicals into your face before you’re barely in double figures.

Young people’s desperation to take up whatever’s available to slow ageing is a disheartening sight.  We know that ageing skin isn’t a curse, but our young people might not reach acceptance of that fact until the damage is done.

Perhaps we need more untouched and mature faces online to counteract young people’s perceptions of what normal is. I don’t think it’s the entire responsibility of over 50s to resolve this issue. However, there could be a positive influence made by sharing the beauty and comfort of silver skin and drowning out the noise of filtered faces and altered bodies. The fight against ageism continues, and we’re going to keep on flying the flag. Whatever our age. We never thought we’d see children using anti-ageing products, but here we are.

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About Lana Hall
Lana can usually be found spinning her collection of records, or writing odd poems in her phone notes. Her mixer of choice is a ginger beer, and you’ll never find her away from the sea for more than a few weeks.

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