love me love me

I’ve Actually Learned So Much About Self-Love From My Skincare-Obsessed Tweens

Watching my kids start to carve out non-negotiable time for themselves every evening feels huge to me. It is huge.

Ariela Basson/Scary Mommy; Getty Images, Shutterstock, Amazon
Teens & Tweens

Like most parents, I was a bit flummoxed when my 10-year-old twins began asking for lavish skincare products I wouldn’t even splurge on for my own 40-year-old skin. Largely driven by the YouTubers they follow, they presented me with an Amazon wishlist that made me howl with laughter. They have Nordstrom taste on a CVS budget.

Drunk Elephant’s $100 moisturizer was an immediate “no” from me; I also vetoed anti-aging products for their young, smooth skin. However, as a mom used to fighting battles to get my kids to do hygiene-related tasks, I decided to indulge this newfound interest. Of the many things my kids were begging to purchase, face wash felt like a simple “yes.”

After some research I discovered certain lines of products made just for tween and teen skin — I settled on Bubble and SQWAD to start — and set them loose to do their thing. Each evening their giggles drift from the bathroom as they stand, side by side, doing their nightly routine.

One night, my son said to his twin sister, “Come on, time for skincare!” She traipsed after him, and I decided to join them in front of the mirror.

I myself have not developed any type of skincare routine whatsoever, much to the horror of my friends who regularly tease me about this topic. But watching my kids made me reconsider.

As I stood there with my kids, I saw their smiles as they stared directly at their own reflections. Rather than looking like the vilified “Sephora tweens” that adults are dunking on these days, they just looked like happy and confident kids. I remember my own frame of mind as middle school loomed; I avoided mirrors and any situation that put me in the spotlight. I invested a lot of energy into making myself small and invisible.

Was this simple act, taking a few minutes out of each day to look themselves right in the eye and care for their growing bodies, revolutionary?

At that moment, it felt like it. I’ve spent my parenting journey praying my kids break cycles and disrupt unjust systems in ways big and small. “Be world changers,” we often tell them. While pushing them to do that, I’ve simultaneously created a world for myself where self-care and wellbeing come last.

My self-care has always taken a backseat to the impossible task of trying to be both a great mom and a successful professional. Watching my tweens start to carve out non-negotiable time for themselves every evening feels huge to me. It is huge.

Is their little evening routine also fueled by some of the tweenfluencers that drive me up a wall? Yes, and I would be lying if I said I don’t worry about the trends and opinions my kids absorb from the internet at times. We talk about it; I explain their favorite vloggers are paid to advertise things, for example. I share that some things other tweens are doing isn’t safe (retinol, for example), but that other choices are fine for kids.

I also recognize that while the products are new, the intense influence of culture on adolescents is not. We poured over Seventeen, scalded ourselves with Oxy pads before Bubble existed, and purchased Wet n’ Wild lipstick from K-Mart in garish colors, driven by that pubescent urge to learn about and define ourselves.

It may be too late for me to prevent the passage of time on my own skin, and I’m not even sure it matters to me; I’ve earned these lines raising four amazing kids. It’s not too late, though, for me to learn a lesson from my children about looking in the mirror with confidence and showing the face smiling back a little bit of love regardless, night after night.

Meg St-Esprit, M. Ed., is a journalist and essayist based in Pittsburgh, PA. She’s a mom to four kids via adoption as well as a twin mom. She loves to write about parenting, education, trends, and the general hilarity of raising little people.