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Sephora’s Pre-Teen Apocalypse

“Yeah, I really don’t care what you say. I want it, so I’m gonna buy it.”
Sephoras+Pre-Teen+Apocalypse

Sephora employees nationwide now anticipate the sound of the school bell, releasing hoards of pre-teen girls into their stores. Looking for Dior, Charlotte Tilbury, and Drunk Elephant, they clean the shelves with few survivors. Many employees and customers have turned to social media and voiced their less-than-favorable experiences with these girls and their inappropriate handling of test products, disruptive behavior, and buying things that could diminish their young skin. Retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, and other exfoliating products have been popular among this new demographic, which causes 3rd-degree chemical burns on young skin that doesn’t need it.

When interviewing a California state board-certified esthetician about the effects these harsh acids made for adult skin will have on young 7-13-year-old skin, she said there would be nothing but damage from these children using these products. She described the long-term effects these harsh chemicals have on young skin, like speeding up the development of skin lesions, skin cancers, becoming easily sunburnt, along with irritation, redness, and extreme sensitivity. She made a point to emphasize how unnecessary it is and, unless these girls are integrating a really good sunscreen into their skincare routine, they are going to suffer from these choices in about 10 years. It’s possible that by the time they’re in their 20s, they could be suffering from the usage of these products through hyperpigmentation or different forms of melasma. The esthetician claims it’s a huge waste because they are dangerously compromising their skin.

Skincare brand, The Ordinary, put directions on their intensive Retinal 0.2% Emulsion product. Emphasizing the need to keep it away from children.

This new chaos has hindered the store’s atmosphere so much that the floor employees are suspicious of everyone when walking into one of these locations. They constantly ask customers if they need help to ensure no one is up to trouble. Sephora customer service employees have spoken out on social media about this situation, calling these girls out for being demanding, pushy, and treating the product inappropriately.  When going to a different beauty store, Ulta (also a victim of these Gen Alpha tween girls), all sample perfumes and colognes were locked behind glass cases or hidden to prevent any mistreatment or possible theft. Similarly, at a Sephora location, employees, 3-4 employees were standing all around the fragrance section.

Sample fragrances no longer displayed

Sephora’s policy has always allowed people of all ages to shop at its locations. However, this demographic has made many question and even demand a policy change to only allow people ages 18+ or 16+ to be allowed inside the stores. Shoppers argue this would allow for a better experience, not stress the employees out, and overall keep a much better environment. 

I’ve just stopped shopping at Sephora because it’s a disaster area, and the kids ruin the simple experience of browsing and shopping. They’re so rude, hateful, and just out of control, and NO ONE does anything to stop it!”

(a user on Sephora’s Community Conversation page)

Despite many disgruntled customers, Sephora hasn’t publicly put any age limits upon store entry. 

The esthetician supported the idea that age restrictions should be put on products. She claimed children under certain ages could be hurting more than helping. She’s noticed all things anti-aging are popular to ages 15 and under, and in society, where more of anything is better, that isn’t the case with these products. There needs to be some age limit or more warning for the user.

This phenomenon has greatly differed from past generations. Years prior, tween girls would sheepishly browse drugstore shelves, buying whatever a more skilled influencer or equally inexperienced friend recommended. Instead, they would go to places tailored to their demographic, like Justice and Claire’s, to buy shimmery scented lip glosses and vibrant eyeshadow palettes and then unskillfully put them on.

This trend of kids shopping alongside “The Big Kids” wasn’t ever a thought, let alone a desire generations prior. So why is the pre-teen apocalypse happening now with Generation Alpha?

The internet is the one to blame. The new demographic infiltrating Sephoras everywhere is between the ages of 7 and 13. These kids have been around and possibly consuming popular social media sites like Instagram, TikTok, Twitter (now X), and Snapchat most of their lives with the same unrestricted access an adult would have. They regularly absorb content created for an adult audience, thus making their unicorn and glitter stage swapped with lip plumpers and anti-aging serums. 

Regarding what these girls should be using/ doing instead of the harsh ones they are usinnow, the esthetician said, “They should be cleansing twice a day, morning and evening, have a good basic cleanser, a moisturizer, maybe a daytime nighttime. Definitely a daytime moisturizer with sunscreen. That’s all they need. If there are any medical needs like eczema or acne, then those can be added too, but that’s all.”

 

On top of this, the mass closures of stores tailored to pre-teens may also have a lot to do with this. Past generations, like Millennials and Gen-Z, had stores tailored to their age group, such as Justice, Claire’s, Wet Seal, etc. However, with the recent shift and most of these stores going bankrupt and/ or turning exclusively online, these girls are left without a hangout spot. This leaves their eyes locked on the only store with color, fun prints, and something to play with. Sephora.

When asking the esthetician what her experience with girls ages 10-14 has been with skincare, she said, “They care more about makeup than skincare from what I’ve seen. It’s great they are interested in skin care, but they are interested in the wrong way. I understand because it’s a fad, and everyone likes to be on-trend. But it’s a passing fad. This won’t continue because it’s going to start getting very legal. I do hope it goes away, not only because of the damage they’re doing, but for the people over 25 that do need it, they can’t get it.”

When I went in person and asked a Sephora employee at a local location, it was revealed that this one was an exception to this tween takeover. Though they prepare for kids to come in, only a few do, and the typical crowd frequents. Is this because the manic skincare spell hasn’t cursed the Inland Empire or because the mall this Sephora was at had other places these tween girls would rather occupy their time?

To stop young girls from taking over and causing havoc in adult-targeted areas, more accommodations need to be made for them. Stores that are kid-friendly and safe for them to go and have fun and experiment with other girls their age need to start opening up again, or else makeup stores like Sephora and Ulta will continue being under the control of the school bell.

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About the Contributor
Mia Rotell
Mia Rotell, Writer
Hi! My name is Mia Rotell and I am a writer and editor for The Talon! I'm going on my second year at MSJC and my second semester at The Talon. I'm extremely passionate about writing and storytelling, which makes me put my all into my pieces and always on the lookout for a story to cover. I'm currently a Journalism major and plan on getting my bachelor's degree in Journalism and Media Communications. My ultimate goal is to be an editor at a major publication like TIME Magazine or one that highlights people/ events of different cultures and backgrounds. Outside my articles, I like to read, write, do yoga, paint, travel, and collect old books.

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