First thing’s first: Anyone, regardless of age, can benefit from a simple cleanse, moisturize, protect regimen. “Sunscreen is a must from birth onwards,” notes board-certified dermatologist Rebecca Marcus, M.D., founder of MaeiMD. “And antioxidant protection can benefit those at any age.”
Board-certified dermatologist Loretta Ciraldo, M.D., FAAD, agrees: “If the advice is what we dermatologists recommend—washing your face with gentle cleanser at least once, preferably twice a day, and using SPF 30 to 60 when outdoors—this is something that I support, and it is really never too early to start this,” she tells mindbodygreen.
It’s when pre-teens start to dabble in potent, photosensitizing actives—acids, retinols, and the like—that they start wreaking havoc on their skin barriers, she adds. However, depending on when a child hits adolescence, a derm might actually recommend these stronger ingredients to target specific skin concerns (namely, acne).
“Some 11 year olds are already experiencing skin changes associated with puberty, in which case retinoids and other acne-fighting ingredients are indicated,” notes Marcus. So the answer is a resounding it depends, but kids should always get the green light from a derm before slathering on potentially-irritating ingredients.
Now, things get tricky when it comes to hydrating, collagen-promoting ingredients—think peptides, growth factors, etc. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that these ingredients are receiving more air time on social media and reaching a younger demographic—after all, true skin longevity starts with early prevention methods! And while they don’t carry the same irritation potential as retinoids (assuming you use a high-quality formula), they also aren’t really that necessary for a much younger age group.
“We start to lose collagen in our 20s1, so that would be a good time to start using more advanced actives, such as peptides and growth factors, which function to help stimulate collagen,” Marcus says. When you’re very young and your skin is already chock-full of collagen, there’s not much to replenish.
Sorry to say, an 11-year-old slathering on an innovative peptide-infused formula is likely just wasting money (a lot of money, given the steep price tags on some of these innovative, biotech-derived confections). The serum will hydrate their skin, no doubt, but they don’t necessarily need the collagen-restoring capabilities those peptides provide.
An early adolescent would fare far better with focusing on sun protection (and perhaps acne, considering the skin starts to produce more oil due to hormonal changes), waiting until young adulthood when collagen maintenance becomes front and center to use specific antioxidants, retinols, and other collagen-stimulating actives.