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  • Writer's pictureSkyla Clarke

Sephora 10 Year Olds Are Wasting Their Childhoods

We have all seen the Tiktoks. Children no older than 12 ravaging through beauty stores, mixing products, destroying testers and being rude to other customers. But why? To acquire the latest skincare product, to ensure that that one scent is in stock, or simply just to get their way? If by chance you have no idea what I am talking about, chances are you have never encountered or heard of the infamous “Sephora ten year olds”. As per the name, these children are known for going into beauty stores, such as Sephora and Mecca as we know them in New Zealand, and causing total destruction, despite the fact that they are only 8-12 year olds. 

The one thing that the Gen Z audience of Tiktok can’t figure out is why. Why are literal children wanting to buy these products that were specifically made for adults, and focus their whole childhood on making sure that they have the perfect skincare and makeup routine? There are multiple contributing factors to this reason, but the main one is exposure to social media. 

Social media is gaining an increasingly younger audience, many platforms lowering their joining age from 18 to 13 over the course of the past few years. After all, it was the way that we communicated with others during the pandemic. It was the only way to find out what was happening in pop culture, what clothes people were wearing and what songs they were listening to, but also was one of our only sources of ‘human’ interaction. Apart from our immediate families, we couldn’t communicate with anyone else without social media. And so, social media was a place where people could go for a laugh, for a chat or for anything that really couldn’t be provided in the conditions in which we had to live. 

And, if you turn away from the bullying, it was a great place. People enjoyed getting their dose of the world without actually going out in it. It prevented many people from feeling (too) lonely. But after we left our bubbles and returned to reality, social media became a bit of a different place. 

Now, the focus on many social media outlets, particularly Tiktok, has moved away from comedy and relatable content, to more extravagant and jealousy-worthy posts. Influencers have become richer and richer, and the “get ready with me” trend has taken off. And so people are exposed to the lives that they think they should be living, rather than posts that are more similar to the lives that they are currently living. 

It’s also clear to see that the age of the audience is becoming younger and younger, with the pandemic and increasing accessibility to technology. During the pandemic, at least ⅓ of Tiktok’s audience of 49 million people were under 14. And so, after we returned to reality and these unrealistic trends started increasing in popularity, these children were being exposed to them for multiple hours, daily. 

This means that when a 20-something-year-old influencer jumps on the app and posts about her skincare routine or her outfits and a trend starts catching on, it starts influencing these kids, especially girls. It creates an expectation that these girls should be dressing a certain way every day, using certain skin care products, even drinking out of certain water bottles. 

And this leads into our problem: the formation of Sephora Ten Year Olds. When brands like Drunk Elephant, Glow Recipe, Sol De Janeiro etc start to become trendy, these kids feel the need to participate in the trend, and therefore buy the products. Not only is the use of these products actually damaging for their skin (as most skincare products are created for an older market) the influenceability of these kids is creating a bratty and dull generation. 

The children that are watching videos of influencers and their “get ready with me” clips are being recommended products (which are targeted at an older audience—but how are they supposed to know that?) and starting to think they need them. They are watching people mix products together to create a certain skincare potion, and starting to want to do the same. They are watching people buy Stanley Cups, watching people wear particular outfits, watching them do their makeup, watching them complain about this and that—and wanting to do the same. However, it’s incomprehensible to them that this 15-second snapshot they are getting isn’t this whole person’s life, and so they start to think that their lives need to look like the person’s in the short video. 

This has created the Sephora Children. All they want to do is grow up and be like their favourite influencer. They feel an urge to get everything they have been shown online—a sort of Veruca Salt “I want it all” type attitude. And for what? Not for the latest Smiggle Pencil Case, strawberry-flavoured bubble bath or Friends Lego set, but for skincare, makeup and dull things that children should just find boring?

But what about us? What about our childhood? Personally, when I see one of these kids buying skincare they don’t need or walking around all dressed up in trendy clothes the only thing I can think of is the song “Never Grow Up” by Taylor Swift. I wish I’d never grown up. It sucks, because sometimes I sense things that remind me of my childhood, but I can never go back. The princess dresses, the light-up sketchers, the My Little Pony lunch boxes, the scented erasers, and the Rainbow Magic books will never return. We will never get it back. 

And so while we sit in front of the mirror, using makeup to cover things we are told to be insecure about, all we can think about is how we wish we only had to wear face paint to look like a fairy or a unicorn. The magic disappears when you grow up. This is the reason why Gen Z is having a difficult time comprehending why these children are wasting their precious childhood doing adult things that we don’t really enjoy compared to the things we used to do at their age. It feels like it’s our responsibility to tell them that growing up sucks and that they should just enjoy the childhood that’s right in front of them. 

But, we don’t have the power to fix a whole broken generation. It is really up to stricter social media rules and parents to ensure that their kid doesn’t become a Sephora ten year old. Social media, while great in some respects, has taken the childhood away from millions of children across the globe. And will continue to do so unless parents actually control their children’s use of technology. They need to make sure that their children don’t grow up before they have to. 

I wish I’d never grown up.

"Take pictures in your mind of your childhood room. Memorise what it sounded like when your dad gets home. Remember the footsteps, remember the words said, and all your little brother's favourite songs. I just realised everything I have is someday gonna be gone." 

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