The California Bill Hoping to Ban Children From Buying Anti-Aging Skin Care Has Failed

The California Bill Hoping to Ban Children From Buying Anti-Aging Skin Care Has Failed featured image
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Ever since the videos of teens and tweens taking over Sephoras nationwide began to dominate our “for you” pages, the debate about teen skin care has been one of the hottest in the world of beauty. While some feel that the harsh scrutiny of these young beauty consumers is doing more harm than good, many—dermatologists included—worry that children anti-aging with serious ingredients could lead to skin damage.

While there is no harm in taking care of your skin from a young age, the main concern in the teen skin-care debate revolves around the fear that young users could be overloading their delicate skin with harsh actives. In response to this concern, the California legislature put forward a bill that would ban children under 13 from purchasing certain skin-care products. The bill failed to move forward after it was brought to the State Assembly Appropriations Committee on Thursday, May 16.

“Although I’m disappointed in today’s result, I’m committed to protecting children from the unnecessary harms of anti-aging products,” author of the bill and assembly member Alex Lee wrote in a statement.

California AB 2491: The Bill Addressing Teen Skin Care

Last month, California AB 2491—the bill in question—gained the approval of the state’s Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee and has now moved on to the Appropriations Committee, meaning the bill is slowly getting closer to real life application. What does the bill propose, though? In essence, the new legislation would ban children under 13 from purchasing skin-care products that are advertised as anti-aging formulas, preventing teens from obtaining any products containing vitamin A, retinol, retinoids and AHAs, like glycolic acid and citric acid.

Lee previously explained the bill’s reasoning in a statement from his office, “Anti-aging products with powerful active ingredients like retinol have become much more ccessible in recent years. 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 US 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. Kids don’t need anti-aging products, and AB 2491 will protect children and preteens from the potential harms of using products that may lead to short- or long-term skin challenges they wouldn’t otherwise have.”

If the bill were enacted, retailers in the state would be required to take “reasonable” steps to prevent children from purchasing these active-heavy products, which could include placing signage next to these products indicating they are not intended for use in teens, requiring the customer to provide proof of age before buying or even requiring the purchaser to use a non prepaid credit card for payment.

Why Didn’t the Bill Advance?

One of the biggest hurdles the legislation faced was the reaction from the industry.

Trade Association Personal Care Products Council, which represents the parent company of Sephora, Ulta Beauty and around 600 other cosmetic and personal care products, released a statement in April. They argued that the bill, while “well intentioned,” was “impossible to enforce” and “falls short of addressing the real issue.”

Their statement notes that children anti-aging is a serious concern, but that the proposed bill could lead to the over regulation of products like sunscreen.

Is Anti-Aging Skin Care for Kids Dangerous?

Some ingredients can be harsh on the sensitive skin of teens and kids.

“Some teens come in with over-exfoliated skin, sensitivity or reactions from using too many products,” says Melvine, NY dermatologist Kally Papantoniou. “I simplify their routine, focus on skin-barrier restoration, and bring their routine back to the basics.”

Northville, MI dermatologist Farhaad Riyaz, MD, says pre-teen is too young for ingredients that are formulated for adults. “At 10-12 years old, children’s skin is still developing and is more sensitive than adult skin. However, they are old enough to learn healthy habits. I ask parents to encourage a focus on skin health, not a beauty routine. Many products marketed to younger audiences may contain ingredients that are too harsh for young skin. Stick to simple, hypoallergenic products.”

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