Is Your Child Too Young for a Skincare Routine?

As my kiddos jump into bed without properly washing their face (something I NEVER go to sleep without doing) I wonder, “How long can they get away with this? When do I need to establish a skincare routine for them?” Yes, they wash their faces during bath time, but what about those times when bath is skipped? Breezy Mama turns to Christy Prunier, founder of Willa Skincare, a new line which was developed specifically for young girls, for answers.

From Christy:

What encompasses a smart skincare routine is very personal and changes with the very specific skincare needs that evolve over time.  For a tween–a daily cleanser, a moisturizer like Willa Face the Day which is green tea, aloe and eucalyptus–are very light and formulated for young sensitive skin.  Also a natural SPF should become a daily ritual.  As a child gets older and hormones kick in and acne makes its unwelcome debut, spot treatments as well as masks can be a useful tool.

Currently, with my three and six year olds, I wash their face with a warm washcloth and mild soap—is that enough? At what age should we start a “skin care routine” with our children?

I think a skincare routine should begin as soon as your child is ready to take ownership of taking care of their skin.  My 5 year old daughter Julia craves responsibility and she now washes her face, moisturizes without a prompt–  and she loves putting on Willa sunscreen–even on a cloudy day.  The key is giving them natural products they enjoy using.  It’s the same with food.  Just telling your children “this is good for you” will never get a child to choose Kale over French Fries unless the kale tastes great.  The same for getting your children to embrace a healthy skincare habit…they have to love the ritual.

What ingredients do we need to avoid when looking for children’s skincare products?

Avoid chemicals.  Look for natural products–no parabens, sulfates, phthalates.   Holmostate, Oxybenzone –these ingredients in chemical sunscreens have been show to be endocrine disruptors.  What goes on the skin goes in the skin–and that is especially true with children who absorb more as a share of their body weight than adults do. Environmental Working Group is a great resource for product information.

What age do children start to experience the dreaded breakouts?

I can only speak from observation here but it seems to coincide with onset of puberty, but embracing a healthy skincare routine should not begin when there is a problem. You shouldn’t wait until your child gets a breakout or a sunburn to encourage them to start taking care of their skin. After all, we don’t wait until our children are diabetic to say eat fruits and vegetables and we certainly don’t wait until they have a cavity to suggest they brush their teeth. But with the skin, our largest organ, the relationship begins with a “problem”–and that is the troubling lifestyle pattern Willa addresses.

So one way to minimize breakouts as kids get older is to practice healthy skincare habits–namely keeping skin clean.  But the other critical pieces are getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, keeping stress to a minimum and making healthy food choices.

If they start cleansing their face early in age, will that minimize breakouts as they get older?

Genetics have a huge impact on the skin we have, so to a certain extent it is predetermined. But genes are only the starting point and beautiful skin is also about healthy skin care habits practiced daily.

There are no foods that directly CAUSE acne. I’ve learned from dermatologists that acne is caused by blood sugar, chronic inflammation and stress.  Many foods exacerbate these conditions and can thus trigger acne.  So knowing that, eating too much fat is one of the biggest reasons for blood sugar problems . . . meaning the blood sugar levels fluctuate too much which causes a hormonal reaction that leads to increased oil production and blocked pores.  Also, refined carbohydrates which enter the bloodstream quickly spike blood sugar levels.  Caffeine too can be a trigger since it sets off the adrenalin glands to release stress hormones which are bad for your general healthy and skin.  And of course caffeine affects sleep which is critical for your body to detox and repair. Easiest rule of thumb is to avoid food that comes from a factory . . . the closer you stay to the “whole food”–for example apples vs. applesauce–the better off you’ll be.

When I think of skin care, I think of females, but our boys should be started on a skin care regimen as well, right?

Girls love product.  We are sensory by nature and are predisposed to savor the ritual of caring for our skin.  Boys are no different in the need to start young caring for their skin…I have a son who is now ten.  He uses the Willa Start Fresh Foaming Face Wash, the natural lip butters and loves the SPF Face the Day–But he’d likely enjoy it more if the packaging wasn’t purple.

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About Christy Prunier: Christy spent 10 years in LA making feature films for Phoenix Pictures where she was Senior Vice President of Production.  On her watch they developed films with directors including Oliver Stone, Bryan Singer, Terry Malick and Kathryn Bigelow.  The last spec script she developed was BLACK SWAN–and she attached Darren Aaronfsky to the project over ten years ago after seeing his student film.

She was in a bi-coastal marriage for 3 years with her husband David Doss who was the executive producer of NBC NIGHTLY NEWS with Tom Brokaw in NYC.  Both she and her husband were married to their careers as much as each other which is why they flew every weekend for 5 years coast to coast.

Christy then worked for MoMA where she curated a film series called “Great Collaborations” where she enlisted talent including  Quentin and Uma as well as  Alexander Payne (SIDEWAYS/THE DESCENDENTS) and his writing partner Jim Taylor.

So it wasn’t an obvious line to creating the skincare line WILLA.  Rather it was ‘one of those moments’  Christy shared with her then 8 year old daughter, Willa.  One evening after taking a bath Willa asked why she had to use “babyish” skincare products.  It was a turning point.  Christy has had 3 facial skin cancers, Mohs surgery, had horrible acne as a girl;  she didn’t want her own daughter to repeat her history.  So they looked for natural skincare products Willa would love and Christy could trust.  There were none!  And from there WILLA was born.  For 3 years Christy worked with chemists, a dermatologist, as well as Willa and her friends on the formulations that would ensure girls took ownership of caring for their skin.  They had to love using the products because Christy knew no amount of “nagging” from Mom would work.

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  1. Hey Alex,
    I am the owner of Good For You Girls the leader in all natural and organic skincare for girls. Established in 2008 we were the first company to bring beautiful effective and safe products to girls. I will warn all your readers to please read labels. The FDA does not regulate personal care products and any company can claim to be natural or have natural ingredients in them but they do not have to back it up. Girls are extremely susceptible to even trace levels of hormone altering chemicals found in personal care products due to the delicate changes happening in their bodies during puberty. So I urge all moms to do your homework. Please read the labels. Be sure not to use products with fragrance as the word “fragrance” can mask hundreds of chemicals.


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