The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

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Skincare and Beauty: Helpful or Harmful For a Younger Audience?

Is the result of Social Media popularizing skincare harmful or beneficial to young girls in the long- and short-term?
Screenshot of TikTok (IZ NISSEN)

Skincare branding on social media is successful in luring young girls into the sticky web of insecurity. As years and months progress, the age of skincare use becomes younger and younger. There is an ongoing silent competition of girls to look “better,” or more “perfect” than someone else. But the word “perfect” is incomprehensible in the world of human appearance. 

In an article for the New York Times titled “Why Does Gen Z Believe It’s ‘Aging Like Milk’?” Renee Engeln, a psychology professor and director of the Body and Media Lab at Northwestern University, named social media as a cause of Gen Z’s obsession with skincare products. “There is a sense in which young people have forgotten what faces look like,” Engeln wrote. She added, “Gen Z grew up endlessly scrolling through idealized versions of their own faces and the faces of others.” 

I remember one morning, walking into the house of the cousins I have grown up with a few days following the birthday of my middle cousin. As soon as I stepped into the house, the oldest cousin came running up to me whisper-yelling, “you won’t believe what her friends got her as presents for her birthday!” My confusion at this statement turned into internal shock as I later found what is considered a “routine amount” of skincare and makeup piled in the bin of a just-turned 10-year-old girl. 

As a teen girl myself, I can definitely relate to this ongoing skincare phenomenon. I think every female – including myself – eventually lives through the phase where the lure of beauty and looking ‘better’ is essential to life. In an article published by Margie Nanninga from Mintel, she states, “42 percent of US teens aged 12-14 who use beauty and personal care products do so because it makes them feel more confident, rising to well over half (56 percent) of those aged 15-17.” 

Although self-care in the form of product application brings me a sense of confidence in the moment, when I think about it later, or when I take off the skincare and make-up “mask,” I feel more self-conscious. No matter how well the cover is disguised to the eyes of the general public, I will never look the same as my natural self.

On the other hand puberty brings skin conditions such as acne, which are important to consider. In a dermatology journal published by eScholarship, Lauren K Dunn, Jenna L O’Neill, and Steven R Feldman’s accumulated research shares that, “acne can negatively impact mood, self-esteem, and interpersonal relationships and may lead to depression and suicidal ideation.” 

As a teen myself, I understand how acne affects self-confidence. However, using skincare to “cure” the imperfections, is in most cases ineffective and influences skincare’s hyper-addictive properties. In an article in NBC Washington, Dr. Asha Patton-Smith of healthcare company Kaiser Permanente says, “starting early with caring for yourself, being concerned with your skin, doing all the things that you need to do to maintain a healthy body, mind and spirit are all very positive… The challenge is how much time is being spent on this, what the goal is, and when it doesn’t seem to be working well or seems to be obsessive or excessive.”

If you think through the skincare products used by children from the ages of 10-18, which ones are just a fun way to let time slip away and which ones are unintentionally — or intentionally — increasing insecurity among them? I encourage teens, including myself, to understand an aspect of self-depreciation that can subconsciously drive the desire to buy a never-ending supply of products, most of which have no effect. Ask yourself, is my skincare coming from a place of self-care or self-judgment?

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