‘Kardashian children are sharing skincare routines’: experts on gen Z’s ageing fixation

<span>‘Feminine identity is very much positioned in terms of appearance and the beauty standards culture and societies put upon us.’</span><span>Photograph: sarra22/Getty</span>
‘Feminine identity is very much positioned in terms of appearance and the beauty standards culture and societies put upon us.’Photograph: sarra22/Getty

Younger generations are known for sharing their extensive skincare habits online. Generation Z, those born between the mid-1990s and early-2010s, and the cohort succeeding them, known as Generation Alpha, appear to be obsessed with trying to halt the ageing effects of time. Even children as young as 10 are putting pressure on their parents to buy them expensive, anti-ageing products.

In the latest example of this fascination, gen Z has adopted another technique to stop wrinkles: a quirky-shaped straw. The trend has gone viral on TikTok.

So why are people in their 20s and younger so obsessed with getting older? We brought a panel of experts together to share their views.

The consumer expert

‘Access to social media is a big influence … TikTok has millions of videos’’

Josie O’Brien, health and beauty consumer insights director at consumer analysts Kantar

We have seen an increase in teenage girls using skincare … prematurely using anti-ageing products and increasingly valuing beauty and looking young. Access to social media will be a big influence here. TikTok, in particular, has millions of videos dedicated to this topic and we are starting to see the younger generations of influencers coming through: it’s now the children of the Kardashian family sharing skincare routines online.

Kantar data tells us that teens are specifically using social media for skincare and makeup recommendations. So they have access to that information, whether it is appropriate or not.

Another factor is the in-store experience. The ability to try samples, products that stand out on the shelf, and nice smells are big deciding factors for young people when choosing skincare. Brands such as Drunk Elephant and Sol de Janeiro are viral among this demographic at the minute, and if you look at the products you can see why they would appeal to younger people.

The GP

‘Social media massively influences how we perceive ourselves’

Dr Ross Perry, medical director of Cosmedics skin clinics and GP

Certain aspects of this are positive and other elements less so. The rise in people wearing sunscreen younger is positive and that awareness will hopefully bode well in adulthood.

Why are young people more interested in anti-ageing products? A big factor is social media. Everything is pointing towards looking as good as we can. There is that pressure now in marketing, and social media massively influences how we perceive ourselves. If people see perfect skin and perfect routines they are more likely to follow them.

There is no evidence to suggest these anti-wrinkle straws work at all. I’m in full agreement that continual pursing of the lips and sucking through a straw may contribute to fine lines appearing, especially as this area around the mouth is one of the first places to show signs of ageing. But [the straw] is a gimmick made popular on social media and is an absolute waste of money.

The psychologist

‘Botox is now advertised at the dentist’

Phillippa Diedrichs, professor of psychology at the University of the West of England

Feminine identity is very much positioned in terms of appearance and looking a certain way and the beauty standards culture and societies put upon us. We know girls and women, as well as gender-diverse people, are particularly affected by this. Historically, there is pressure on women to look a certain way as they are objectified in culture. There is a lot of pressure to manipulate and modify their bodies.

Related: ‘It’s disturbing’: the rise in UK children wanting anti-ageing products

As a result, we see a high rate of self-objectification among women and increasingly young girls. They have internalised this societal pressure and see their bodies as objects to be modified. They spend a lot of time focused on their appearance. That gets distilled down to girls being silly and vain or trivial, but there is a cultural pressure to do it, and they see people who conform to these standards. They are often held up as the most rewarded in society.

Cosmetic procedures are also more accessible financially and in terms of who offers them. For example, Botox is now advertised at the dentist.

The dermatologist

‘Brands encourage it and like the fact it’s become a luxury accessory’

Dr Emma Wedgeworth, of the British Cosmetic Dermatology Group

Unlike smoking or drinking, skincare is seen as an innocent way of playing with being older. It is not as obvious as makeup. I think brands encourage it, and like the fact it has become a luxury accessory and there are a lot of myths being peddled. People are told they must do certain things to keep their skin healthy and that exposure is good for brands sometimes.

It’s reflective of our obsession with ageing as a society. We are supposed to as a society evolve and become more enlightened but we are failing in terms of how we value older people and maturity.