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An Expert’s Take on Skincare Tips for Kids

routine-young children-kids-skin-doris day
routine-young children-kids-skin-doris day
Dr. Doris Day

Dr. Doris Day is a New York-based board-certified dermatologist, who is also a science-backed skincare designer, medical journalist, author, and radio talk show host. We spoke to her about the growing trend of young children using aggressive routines to treat their skin, the harm this can cause, and the proper ways for young people to care for their skin.

Doris Day, M.D.

Providing Advanced Dermatology and Aesthetics Services in NYC,

What are the risks of using a lot of different skincare products at a young age, and how can this affect your skin as you get older?

The downside is that they are thinking there’s something wrong with them that they have to fix as opposed to understanding that this is just getting into good habits of skincare. The worry I have is that they are going to be creating problems they don’t actually have, and that’s the problem: it becomes a competitive sport where someone’s using something and then the other ones have to use it.

Also, kids at that age really just need to be kids. It’s almost like they’re growing up too fast and thinking they have to do all these skincare steps because their skin is aging somehow, when they haven’t even hit puberty yet. I think that’s a problem.

I think they’re setting themselves up for irritants and allergic reactions. They’re setting themselves up for burning out on proper skincare, for the ones who take it too seriously. And there’s also the cost factor. These products cost money and then there’s some kids who can’t afford them. And we can create a sense of disadvantage that way too, where some kids are going to feel left out and socially isolated because they’re not doing all these skincare things.

I think it’s a phase that will pass. My hope and expectation is that they’ll start to learn healthy, proper skincare routines and not feel compelled to do so many layers. I don’t think they should be shamed into not using skincare. It’s more that it should be a conversation where they understand what the value of it is, what the purpose of it is, and that’s the best way to make things better.

What are your thoughts on young children using retinols and retinoids, and what types of products are NOT appropriate for young skin?

Retinols and retinoids are probably fine. I think using too many of the high-concentration glycolic acids and such will create problems in their skin. It can also make you more sun-sensitive over time.

What is your advice to parents of young tweens looking to start a healthy skincare routine? What are key steps they should focus on?

I think you could focus on drugstore products and brands, and really just trust that your skin self-cleans, your skin self-exfoliates, your skin self-regulates, and trusting your skin to take care of itself. You don’t have to pay quite that much attention to it.

It’s just understanding that a healthy routine is generally just a few steps. If it’s more than three steps, chances are you’re overdoing it. And I think three is a reasonable number. So just cleanse, and use a gentle moisturizer and sunscreen. That’s really the basics of what you need.

It’s sticking to basics and then focusing on a healthy diet and proper sun protection, and getting enough sleep. Those things are important, but really learning to trust your skin to take care of itself is so powerful.

If you think you have a problem, see a dermatologist, and let them evaluate and help guide you as to what’s exactly right for you. It might be worth investing in seeing a doctor because it’ll save you from buying a lot of products. I always think it’s a good idea to see a dermatologist, start early, and develop that relationship, and that will guide you.

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