Gone are the days of St. Ives apricot scrub and Stridex acne pads that seared the skin right off your bones. No, these days, it seems the kids are much more informed about skin care (or maybe just...influenced about it). The trend of kids asking for luxury skincare products for Christmas and Hanukkah is going viral, with social media users and parents seeming to blame influencers and their 10-step nighttime routine videos for their kids’ newfound Drunk Elephant obsession.
It’s not totally clear when or how this conversation started, but you may have noticed all the buzz on social media about kids as young as 7 asking their family members for high-end skincare products. “What ever happened to children wanting toys… wtf do u mean u want drunk elephant skincare YOU ARE 7?” says one X user. “This is part of why social media is bad for kids. They’re getting advertised to nonstop and are becoming obsessed with their appearance instead of playing and learning,” one commenter replied. Another simply said, “what happened to wanting Barbies and Littlest Pet Shops?”
The brand Drunk Elephant, sold at beauty stores like Sephora, seems to be the one most people reference — it may have landed on more kids’ wishlists after Kim Kardashian’s 10-year-old daughter North West posted a TikTok of her morning skincare routine earlier this year. In it, she uses the brand’s Lala Retro Nourishing Whipped Refillable Moisturizer, which is currently sold out on both Sephora’s and Drunk Elephant’s websites.
Maybe the product is out of stock because all the adults have bought them up ahead of the holidays, sure, but Ulta and Sephora employees are taking to TikTok to say they see parents in stores purchasing expensive serums and such for their kids all the time now. “Nobody under the age of 25 needs a retinol,” says one. “Stop buying your kids Drunk Elephant.” Others echo her sentiments, saying the products could be damaging to young skin.
It’s possible Drunk Elephant is taking much of the heat because of a TikTok posted by the brand itself, in which they made recommendations on which of their products are best suited for kids between 11 and 13 years old. The original video appears to have been deleted, but board-certified dermatologist Dr. Brooke Jeffy, M.D., FAAD, who is based in Scottsdale, Arizona, stitched it to call out the brand for trying to sell their most expensive products to kids without an understanding of what tween skin needs. In another video, she explains that the high concentration of active ingredients in some Drunk Elephant products are meant to be effective on adult skin. In yet another, she claims these products could be harsh enough to cause “chemical burns and premature acne.”
On Dec. 8, Drunk Elephant’s founding partner and chief creative officer, Tiffany Masterson, posted on Instagram to explain that in fact, some of their products are safe for children. The brand steered parents toward that sold-out Lala moisturizer (among many other items) while discouraging the use of its acid- and retinol-based formulas for kids. The reactions to the post are mixed, with some users asking what nighttime routine the brand recommends for a 12-year-old, while others condemned the post as “an absolute sh*t show from a skincare brand encouraging this for children.”
It seems like the social media space can agree on one thing — kids are likely asking for these pricey skincare products as a result of influencers they see using them online, and brands subtly pushing their products to younger audiences. While a little at-home spa night can be a sweet bonding activity for kids and parents, it sounds like you should keep certain products intended for adult skin away from their little faces. Before you add to cart, check with your child’s pediatrician or dermatologist about what products are safe and appropriate for their skin.