Anti-ageing skincare should have clear age restriction labels to protect children, doctors warn

ITV News reporter Katharine Walker has been investigating how to protect young children and teenagers from using anti-ageing products that could damage their skin

Leading dermatologists are demanding to see clear age labels on anti-ageing skincare products warning that they are not suitable for children.

It comes after an ITV investigation revealed a rise in children experimenting with expensive skin care they’ve seen on social media. 

Many of the trendy creams are harmless, but there are concerns around products designed specifically for older skin.

In particular, strong ingredients like retinol, vitamin C, hydroxy acid, and anything labelled as "brightening" or "anti-ageing" can cause lasting damage to children if used incorrectly.

Dr Andrew Kane, from Newcastle, said: “Given the delicate nature of children's skin and the adverse effects of using products not designed for them it would be wise to introduce warning labels on anti-ageing skincare products.

He added: “I am finding there is overall a lack of awareness from parents over which products are and aren't suitable for their children to use."

Christina French, from Birmingham, works in the beauty industry as a manufacturer and compliance officer.

Her 11-year-old daughter, Mia, has become interested in skincare and started asking for products she has seen in videos online.

Under current regulations, there are no age restrictions on anti-ageing products. Instead, companies are only required to list the ingredients and provide safe instructions for use.

Ms French says there needs to be more information so that parents can work out what skincare products are safe their children.

She told ITV News: “The safety margins and safety assessments are based on adult skin. So we need to put 'over-18' on the label.

“There’s no scientific data or research about the impact of these ingredients on children's skin, so that means that we’ve got no idea on the damage it’s causing.

She added: “We need to tighten up the legislation and put the age limit its been tested for on the label.” 

Beauty lawyer Lisa Gilligan, a partner at Freeths, added: “The cosmetic regulations came into force back in 2010. When the regulations were being drafted, the power of social media could have ever been contemplated.

“Now, like in so many parts of our lives, legislation is now being forced to play catch up with the pace of change.”

What skincare should children avoid?

Experts say that children and teenagers should avoid:

  • Retinol (or anything with Vitamin A)

  • Vitamin C

  • Hydroxy acid

  • Anti-ageing products

  • Brightening products

What skincare is safe for children?

Experts recommend a simple skincare routine at a young age, including a gentle cleanser, a light moisturiser, and sunscreen if UV rays are high.

The trend for teenagers wanting anti-ageing products has taken many doctors by surprise, and is a big concern for those in the industry.

In a statement, the trade body for cosmetics and personal care companies, CTPA, said: “We are concerned by this and this is a not a trend that should be encouraged. It is not considered normal use for a child to use an anti-ageing product."

“It is important to highlight that there are some downsides associated with setting an age limit. It may imply that anti-ageing skincare products are appropriate to use as soon as that person is older than the age limit.

"However, late teens and early twenties are not the target brackets for many anti-ageing skincare products."

A government Business and Trade spokesperson said: “All cosmetic products must clearly and accurately list their ingredients so that consumers can see the exact contents. They must also provide suitable warnings or instructions for use to ensure the product is used safely.”

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