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California lawmakers block effort to ban skin care products for young children

The bill was in response to the "Sephora kid" trend that has prompted concern among dermatologists.
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Posted at 2:41 PM, May 17, 2024

A California Assembly committee voted against advancing a billthat would have banned the sale of anti-aging skin products including retinols, glycolic acid, and ascorbic acid to children under the age of 13. The bill was in response to the "Sephora kid" trend that has prompted concern among dermatologists.

The ingredients used in these products help improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, but the legislation's sponsor argues the products can cause "skin irritations such as redness, itching, swelling, dryness, peeling, and potentially lead to topical dermatitis and eczema."

The Cleveland Clinic notes that these symptoms are generally temporary.

Dermatologist Dr. Michael Nazareth told Scripps News Buffalo that the Sephora kid trend has pros and cons. He said it's good that young people are concerned about their skin health, but those concerns come with risks.

"Prepubescent skin tends to be a little finer and doesn't have the oil glands and things to support those products, so they can do a little harm and get their skin too dry and irritated from those products," he said.

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The bill was put forward by Assemblymember Alex Lee. The text of the legislation also would have banned the online purchase of the products with prepaid credit cards and require an age verification.

“Anti-aging products with powerful active ingredients like retinol have become much more accessible in recent years,” said Lee. “They’re readily available at retail stores, and we’re seeing videos on social media of children as young as seven using anti-aging serums. The industry itself has made statements that kids do not need to use these strong products. But the multi-billion dollar beauty industry in the U.S. is failing to take meaningful action to address the issue, and companies are profiting off of kids who are unknowingly buying and using products that aren’t meant for them."

The Personal Care Products Council was among the groups opposing the bill.

“Safeguarding preteens from the pressures of social media and the inappropriate use of cosmetics is extremely important to our member companies. This bill would not provide such safeguards," said a statement by the Personal Care Products Council. "AB 2491 is a hastily drafted attempt to use legislative force to stop a social media trend. Every ingredient targeted by this bill is safe when used as directed at the appropriate age. In addition to reviewing product ingredients with each sale, this bill would require cashiers to know whether a product has been advertised as anti-aging and would further require them to verify a customer’s age at checkout."

Dr. Nazareth offered advice for children and parents looking for skin care products.

"There are age-appropriate products that do have moisturization, they have sunscreens, a little tinted makeup, whatever like that they want to use that's totally safe; I don't have a problem with that. We just want people doing what's appropriate for their skin," Nazareth told Scripps News Buffalo.