8 Derm-Approved Skin Care Products for Tweens

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Unlikely consumers are taking over the skin care industry: tweens. Scroll on TikTok for five minutes, and you’ll likely see 10-, 11-, and 12-year-olds showing off their latest—and often expensive—skin care purchases from popular beauty stores like Sephora and Ulta, including trendy brands like Drunk Elephant. While some of these products may be harmless for older kids and tweens, many are designed for adults and can harm young, sensitive skin

Teaching older kids and tweens how to care for their skin properly is important, but keeping their routine simple is key. We spoke with a dermatologist—and parent of a preteen—about the “Sephora kid” trend, what ingredients to avoid, and how to choose safe skin care products for tween’s sensitive skin. From classics like Aquaphor and CeraVe to select items from Drunk Elephant, Bubble, and Glow Recipe, these eight tween-safe products start at $4.

Best Derm-Approved Skin Care Products for Tweens

Drunk Elephant UmbraSheer Physical Daily Defense Protection Sunscreen

Ulta


If you or your child have been following recent skin care trends, you’ve likely heard of Drunk Elephant. “Drunk Elephant has gained extreme popularity among younger consumers, likely because of the colorful packaging and the trend to combine the products making ‘skincare smoothies,’” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, Associate Professor and Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at the Department of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. While some of the brand’s products are best suited for mature, adult skin, Drunk Elephant’s moisturizing products and sunscreens are “great for all people to use, even younger consumers,” he says.

If your tween wants to get their hands on a Drunk Elephant skincare product, opt for the brand’s SPF 30 sunscreen. It contains 20% zinc oxide to help protect against UVA and UVB rays and leaves behind a sheer finish rather than the dreaded white cast. Keep an eye on other Drunk Elephant products that aren’t ideal for young skin, though: “Any of the exfoliating, brightening, or anti-aging products have the potential to cause irritation, so they should be used cautiously or avoided altogether in tweens,” says Dr. Zeichner.

To buy: Drunk Elephant UmbraSheer Physical Daily Defense Protection Sunscreen $34; drunkelephant.com and ulta.com

CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion 

Amazon


Dr. Zeichner focuses on gentle cleansing, moisturizing, and sun protection with his younger patients. The CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion is a two-in-one skincare product—moisturizer and sunscreen—loved by parents and dermatologists alike. According to one of our editors, a mom of three teens, this lotion is a family favorite because it provides “protection without irritating their skin or worsening their acne.” 

In addition to SPF 30 sunscreen, this CeraVe moisturizer contains three ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide. “There are a lot of trendy ingredients that kids see on social media. The biggest is perhaps hyaluronic acid,” Dr. Zeichner says.”You can think of how [the] acid [is] like a sponge that pulls in hydration to the outer skin layer to moisturize the skin. This ingredient is completely fine for tweens to use.” As for niacinamide, Dr. Ziechner says this is a form of vitamin B3 with soothing effects. “It is well tolerated, and I have no issues with younger consumers applying it to the skin.”  

Bonus: The CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion is non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog your tween’s pores. 

To buy: CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion $13; amazon.com

Bubble Slam Dunk Hydrating Moisturizer

Amazon


Thanks to TikTok, there’s a reason this Bubble moisturizer is called “slam dunk.” It has nearly 1,300 five-star ratings on Amazon, including one reviewer who shared that the moisturizer “absorbs into my skin very quickly and doesn’t feel too heavy.” 

The Bubble Slam Dunk Moisturizer is a plant-based facial cream that hydrates and restores nutrients to the skin. It works well for many skin types, including sensitive, because it lacks fragrances and doesn’t clog pores. 

To buy: Bubble Slam Dunk Hydrating Moisturizer $15; amazon.comulta.com

Aquaphor Lip Repair Balm with Sunscreen

Amazon


When it comes to tween skincare, “the simpler the better,” says Dr. Zeichner. “Irritation can be even worse when multiple active [ingredients] are combined,” he says. Start older kids off with a basic (yet essential) piece of skin care: lip balm. The Aquaphor Lip Repair Balm not only soothes and heals dry lips, but also has SPF 30 sunscreen for additional protection against the sun’s harmful rays.

One of our writers swears by this Aquaphor lip balm herself because of its gentle formula, which is free of fragrance and parabens. The consistency is thick, so a little goes a long way—and it’s already affordable at $4. Tweens will love the small tube size that fits perfectly in a jean pocket or Lululemon belt bag.

To buy: Aquaphor Lip Balm with Sunscreen $4 (was $5); amazon.com

Byoma Creamy Jelly Cleanser

Ulta


Byoma is a popular brand among tweens, including Dr. Zeichner’s preteen. The Byoma Creamy Jelly Cleanser gently removes dirt, excess oil, and makeup. Tweens of all skin types can use this product daily for skin hydration and standard cleaning. 

We appreciate the vegan, cruelty-free formula of this Byoma cleanser, which is also free of alcohol and fragrances. Another favorite feature? The thoughtful design of the cleanser’s colorful bottle: it’s recyclable. 

To buy: Byoma Creamy Jelly Cleanser $14; ulta.com

Glow Recipe Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser

Sephora


Glow Recipe is a “must-have,” according to Dr. Zeichner, who says his 11-year-old loves the brand. The Glow Recipe Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser has three products in one: a makeup eraser, a cleanser, and a clarifying mask. The cleanser’s versatile formula hydrates the skin without taking away any of the skin’s necessary oils and nutrients. 

The Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser is free of synthetic dyes, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and alcohol. It’s important to note that the cleanser contains fragrance—an ingredient Dr. Zeichner says may cause skin irritation for some tweens. However, the company says the fragrance is less than .5% of their formulations, and the little they use is vegan and free of acetone and other harmful ingredients. Plus, it smells really good and will make tweens look forward to using it. 

To buy: Glow Recipe Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleaner $10; sephora.com and glowrecipe.com

Skin1004 Centella Hyalu-Cica Water-Fit Sun Serum

Amazon


Say goodbye to the oily feel and white casts of sunscreen. The Centella Sun Serum features a light texture that works on all skin types, which is why it won over one of our editors’ teen daughters. “[The sunscreen’s texture] differs from others that feel heavy or sticky on the face. I also like that my sunscreen is scent-free and chemical-free, which is reassuring because most of the time, sunscreen makes my skin react,” she says. “I also like how the sunscreen is buildable in appearance without ever looking too oily or greasy.”

The Skin1004 sun serum provides UVA and UVB protection of SPF 50+. We love that it’s “reef safe,” meaning it doesn’t contain harmful ingredients that can damage or hurt the marine ecosystem. 

To buy: Skin1004 Centella Hyalu-Cica Water-Fit Sun Serum $17; amazon.com

CeraVe Acne Foaming Cleanser

Amazon


Older kids and tweens often start breaking out with acne around this age, so be aware that exfoliators, acids, or retinol can potentially cause skin irritation. “In some cases, if the kids have acne, these types of ingredients may be useful, but make sure to touch base with your dermatologist for recommendations,” Dr. Zeichner adds. 

The CeraVe Acne Foaming Cleanser contains 4% benzoyl peroxide, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide. As preteens enter puberty, their faces may need a more straightforward product to target acne. We love that this pick clears pimples and blackheads while preventing new acne from forming. The creamy texture turns into foam as tweens lather the fragrance-free and non-comedogenic formula.

To buy: CeraVe Acne Foaming Cleanser $14 (was $18); amazon.com

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