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Anti-ageing skincare content is causing appearance anxiety in children – psychologist shares tips

10 ways parents can chat to children about healthy skincare habits

Teen girl looks unhappy as she sits at her makeup table
Sophie Hamilton
Parenting Editor
On 29 February 2024
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A new survey commissioned by Dove has revealed statistics about the UK's young girls that us parents will be alarmed by.

Children as young as 10 are being exposed to anti-ageing skincare products on social media, and nearly 1 in 2 young girls (10-17 years-old) are worrying more about their appearance as they age, due to increased exposure to adult skincare content.

Dove's new campaign #TheFaceOf10© Dove
Dove's new campaign #TheFaceOf10

As a mum to a 10-year-old girl, I can confirm this is happening, and to be honest it's quite scary. Since when does a young girl need to cleanse, tone, moisturise, apply a serum and film her multi-step skincare routine for others to see? 

When I was 10, I washed my face with soap and water, probably wasn't even aware of moisturiser and may well have had a lip balm from The Body Shop – that's it. I'm not alone in thinking something needs to change to protect our daughters.

Also in the Dove study is the frightening stat that 1 in 3 young girls are expected to have cosmetic work or plastic surgery to alter their appearance as they age.


Girls as young as 10 are being influenced by skin care content. Together we can protect TheFaceOf10. Watch our ‘Gen A Anti-Aging Skin Care Talk’ for tips and advice.

♬ original sound - Dove Beauty & Personal Care

Dr Phillippa Diedrichs, PhD, Professor of Psychology and leading body image expert explains: "Today, girls are exposed to adult skincare content online and pressures to look a certain way at a very young age, to the extent that they’re adding products designed for adults to their wish lists and skincare regimens, without understanding the possible consequences for their physical and mental health. All of this contributes to a toxic culture of unrealistic beauty standards and pressures."

Below, Dr Phillippa has shared some helpful tips on how parents can chat with their children about skincare to foster positive self-esteem…

How to talk to your child about skincare…

1. Encourage self-trust 

Emphasize that real beauty comes from being authentic and true to oneself, rather than following trends dictated by others.

2. Foster critical thinking

Help your children develop a critical eye when it comes to skincare advertising, especially on social media. Encourage them to question why certain products are being promoted and whether they genuinely need them at their age. Teach them to make informed decisions rather than being swayed by flashy ads.

3. Emphasise body appreciation

Shift the focus from appearance to function when discussing skin. Highlight the importance of celebrating their skin for what it does (e.g. protecting them from germs, allowing them to feel sensations), rather than solely focusing on its appearance. Body appreciation will boost their body confidence.

Teen applying lipstick and looking at mirror while filming vlog © istock
Teen applying lipstick and looking at mirror while filming vlog

4. Encourage creativity

Support your children in experimenting with their appearance in creative ways. Whether it's trying out face paint for fun events or exploring unique accessories, encourage them to embrace their individuality and express themselves creatively instead of just following trends.

5. Guide social media use

Help your children curate their social media feeds by following accounts that promote positivity and self-acceptance. Encourage them to unfollow accounts that perpetuate unrealistic beauty standards or content unsuitable for their age.

6. Address comparisons 

Discuss with your children the potential pitfalls of comparing themselves to idealised images on social media. Remind them that these images often present an unrealistic standard of beauty and encourage them to focus on their unique qualities and strengths.

7. Normalise skin changes

Assure your children that spots and skin changes are a normal part of growing up and do not define their worth. Encourage open communication about skincare concerns and offer support and guidance when needed.

Mum and daughter home spa time© istock
Mum and daughter home spa time

8. Promote skincare education 

Equip your children with knowledge about skincare ingredients and their effects on the skin. Encourage them to learn about what they're putting on their faces to make informed choices that align with their skin type and age.

9. Prioritise inner beauty

Emphasise the importance of inner qualities such as kindness, empathy, and confidence over outward appearance. Encourage your children to cultivate these qualities and surround themselves with people who value them for who they are.

10. Practice self-care

Teach your children the importance of self-care for overall well-being. Encourage them to engage in activities that make them feel good both inside and out, whether it's spending time outdoors, practising mindfulness, journaling, taking a nap, or engaging in hobbies they enjoy.

Dove has launched its #TheFaceof10 campaign and has partnered with Dr Phillippa Diedrichs and certified dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick, to create The Gen A Anti-Ageing Talk, a free resource on how to talk to young people about anti-ageing and beauty anxiety. Visit Dove’s TikTok channel for more information.

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