Self care/hygiene products for tween girls?
April 16, 2020 12:50 PM   Subscribe

My daughter is looking down the barrel of puberty, and has started talking about wanting skin care products, etc. but won't use mine and has no input as to what she actually would like to use. What are the 11-13 year old kids these days using on their skin/as deodorant/ anything else that I can think of, etc? (What's new in the world of menstrual products?) Cheers!
posted by gaspode to Health & Fitness (26 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
For menstrual products there’s of course the classic pads and tampons but also Thinx period underwear and reusable menstrual cups.

There are also reusable pads but I think those are less desirable for preteens
posted by raccoon409 at 12:56 PM on April 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

My tween loves Lush, so many choices and the stores are fun. Pretty pricey so that’s only once in a while. She finds stuff she likes at 5 Below. There are kits for making bath bombs if that’s a thing she would like. I have found that the less input from me the better and these options let her discover her own stuff.
posted by waving at 1:05 PM on April 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

Everything about Glossier screams pre-teen to me. And the store - my god the store was filled to the brim with teens and their moms. I only went once - it's a whole visual experience which I guess is what things are these days. It's cruelty free which is nice.
posted by rdnnyc at 1:08 PM on April 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

It sounds like she wants to start exploring 'grown-up' things but doesn't know where to start (except not her parents' stuff, because who wants to be their parents at 13?). I'd approach this as a chance to set her up to succeed in figuring out what she wants to try and then figuring out if she likes it once she's tried it. Maybe you can explore together and you'll find something you like better than your current products too!

Water-based nail polish? There are lots of colors and it doesn't have so many potential bad interactions with nails and is considered more safe for accidental nail-chewing. Bath bombs and scented or glittery body washes? Be careful to get cosmetic-safe ones, not just whatever appears on Amazon.

Other than that, maybe a good time to talk with her about general things like how to tell what type of skin she has and what issue different products address? See if you can get travel or trial sized packages of different cleansers and lotions for her to try?

Menstrual cups in a not-fully-grown vagina operated by someone who is going through physical changes & doesn't know her own body yet sounds like a bad idea. I would not suggest them for someone who is just learning to deal with periods.
posted by Ahniya at 1:09 PM on April 16, 2020 [11 favorites]

Best answer: For deodorant: the tweens I know use Tom's or Schmidt's.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:15 PM on April 16, 2020

Millie Bobby Brown has her own makeup line, Florence by Mills, with products that would be fun for preteens and teens.
posted by Mouse Army at 1:37 PM on April 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: When my youngest was in this situation, and asked for my advice, we went together to the drugstore and asked for advice there. The idea was that the staff there know what they are talking about, but also want to sell stuff, so I was there to check that, and also help my daughter articulate her skin problems (she has fantastic skin, but it tends to dry up, so not typical for teens). It makes sense that you can't use the same products, she is in a period of her life where hormones rage, you are perhaps in one of the more stable times, hormonally.
One thing we discussed was that many teen-focused products have little value and lots of chemicals, and we agreed that was not what she was looking for.
At this point in time, she uses a menstrual cup, but Ahniya is probably right that is for a slightly older demographic.
For deodorant she uses the cheapest non-perfumed generic stuff she can find. She buys perfume/cologne separately. It seems to be the cool thing to do.
My daughter's best friend has practically lived with us since they were 13, and now she officially lives with us. She has completely different skin issues, and needs to use specialized products to deal with them. When she was younger, we went to a pharmacy, now as she earns her own money and makes her own priorities, she uses high end salon products. This is one of her favorite brands.

One thing I'd like to say from personal experience: note that organic/vegetal products can be just as allergenic as big-chemistry products, or perhaps more. When I was a teen with sensitive skin and allergies, I was advised to use Biotherm or Clinique. I don't use those brands today, unless I'm in an airport and the choice is narrow, but I still think it is good advice, and I noticed that my girls with very different skin issues were given the same advice by doctors, all these years later.
posted by mumimor at 2:26 PM on April 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The Always Infinity Flex Foam pads are a huge improvement over the thicker classic ones. Other brands might have something equivalent.

For skin problems, like acne and rosacea, I think it's best to see a dermatologist - I spent a lot of time experimenting with various suggestions from skincare and beauty subreddits, but it's only the prescription stuff which really worked for me.
posted by airmail at 2:49 PM on April 16, 2020

I started using menstrual cups as an older teen, and I think it would be appropriate to include in the list of options and see if your kid is up for it. People have similar opinions about tampons and younger girls, and it comes from a place of not wanting them to touch their genitals, frankly. If she discovers she's not into it now, she can always put it aside for a few years.

Since your daughter probably doesn't have much money of her own, I think it's appropriate for you to make suggestions here (especially if she's likely to have sensitive skin), but be flexible. If you have something like Sephora or Ulta (samples! you can both get them!), that might be a fun trip once trips are a thing again. For now, maybe a skincare subscription box or a stop at the store to pick out sheet masks and a style magazine she's drawn to?

YouTube is full of horrifying skincare advice, try to keep her off it / inoculate her with the idea that gentle skincare is a good place to start and harsh treatments will irritate her skin and make it look redder.
posted by momus_window at 3:05 PM on April 16, 2020

As a 40 year old woman, I found it challenging to use a Flex menstrual cup, and would have found it impossible as a teen. It's not really comfort with the body, cause I'm fine with that..but it's a bit tricky to get right. I wouldn't recommend it for 1st time period havers.
posted by tiny frying pan at 3:25 PM on April 16, 2020

Mod note: PSA - menstrual cups are one of those areas where people's experience varies. People have different bodies, different assets re privacy, facilities, etc, different things that are a problem for them, and so on.... So just a reminder to skip the mind-reading spin on "what's the deal with those people" whose experience differs from yours, and instead focus on sharing your own experiences that're useful to the OP.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:44 PM on April 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

I love my menstrual cup but they are not for everyone and they are not the only game in town. Look into washable pads maybe, or period panties. There are tons of new options and it never hurts to be informed.
Of course your daughter may not be interested in reusable options and that's fine too!
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:59 PM on April 16, 2020

Best answer: Here is a list of my 11-year-old's "products" which (after some trial and error) we chose to be effective, reasonably-priced, and easy for her to use, in order to give her some control over her own hygiene etc. She's content with all of these. I really didn't want her getting (yet) into status brands like Lush and Glossier...

Links are Amazon but order elsewhere if you prefer:
- Ursa Major Deodorant
- ThinkSport Deodorant
TBH Face Wipes
- KidSkin Face Cleanser
- Cetaphil Lotion
- Nivea Lip Balm
- Boar bristle hair brush (one of these knockoffs of Mason & Pearson) to deal with the newly-greasy hair situation
posted by nkknkk at 4:32 PM on April 16, 2020

They also sell hypoallergenic pads and tampons now! The L. brand ones are great. Total game-changer for those with sensitive skin.
posted by marfa, texas at 4:55 PM on April 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Micellar water is a magical makeup remover that would be very gentle on young skin.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 4:56 PM on April 16, 2020 [3 favorites]

oh! and if you think her hair is always "frizzy" consider that she actually just had curly/ wavy hair even if her hair has been straight previously. So many years wasted trying to tame "frizzy" hair because they were brushed out curls
posted by raccoon409 at 5:49 PM on April 16, 2020 [4 favorites]

Face masks! Very fun, can be relatively inexpensive and it’s easy to try a whole bunch, plus a face mask selfie is always good. I’d let her pick out a bunch of sheet masks from Sephora/ Target/ your local drugstore. You can also make your own with clay, I’d be wary of any diy exfoliating masks as those can be harsh on sensitive skin.
posted by Pretty Good Talker at 6:01 PM on April 16, 2020

Target has a wide variety of trendy products that you can't go wrong with. I love their line of Versed skincare products, but Burt's Bees and the "Say Yes to..." are popular lines that Target carries. They share aisle space with younger products like LipSmackers that your daughter probably enjoyed in elementary school, which might help her feel more confident in choosing her own products. Target has a fancy-enough air for a tween girl while still being affordable, so it's a good learning zone.
posted by lilac girl at 6:17 PM on April 16, 2020

If it's of interest to her - there's a huge variety different kinds of cloth menstrual pads, many in really cute fabrics, on Etsy. In my experience, disposable menstrual pads in the US have been getting steadily worse in quality and comfort over the past ~15 years. Cloth pads might not be practical for her in a school situation if she has to change them during the day, but as backup or for when she's expecting her period, they could be useful.
posted by needs more cowbell at 6:30 PM on April 16, 2020

Re: Tom's deodorant.... it makes me smell awful. So give it a try if you want but make sure she doesn't feel awkward asking for another one if it doesn't work, or maybe do a stealthy sniff test to make sure she's not walking around stinky. Same goes for other deodorants. The only one that works for me is Lume but I think as a teen I would have needed an antiperspirant.

Show her how to wash out blood (hydrogen peroxide, cold water).

Clear mascara is a nice small step that looks natural if she is interested in mascara.

I had really oily skin as a teen and was super self conscious about it so I bought powder for my face.

Explain to her how to use a tampon with an applicator if she is interested because it's not super obvious even with instructions.
posted by at 7:18 PM on April 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: All useful answers, thank you! Maybe we'll do some online browsing tomorrow, as we're obvs not really in a position to go browse at a CVS or similar :)
posted by gaspode at 8:15 PM on April 16, 2020

When I was a teen and a new tampon user, I found OB tampons much easier to use (as I could clearly feel if they were in the right place) than applicator tampons. I know many folks have had the opposite experience, but I would strongly recommend having both applicator and non-applicator options available so she had the opportunity to try both.

Strong second that Always Infinity pads blow the other brands out of the water. They're kind of expensive, but I believe that they're worth it.

I got my period pretty late (15) and I was using menstrual cups by 16/17- one of the advantages of being late is that I was already mature enough not to be particularly squicked out by my period (and old enough to google for help effectively - there's a learning curve to cups for sure). I don't know what I'd recommend for someone who gets their period at a more typical age, but I'd definitely explain the option to her and let her explore it if she feels interested/up to it.

When I was struggling with acne as a teenage, I spent so long loading up my skin with more and more drugstore salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide without moisturizing or repairing it at all, and it did not go well. Turns out what I really needed was some topical prescription treatment and a good moisturizer to balance things out, but it took me way too many years to learn that. Whatever brands/products you initially go with (I love the amazingly affordable products from The Ordinary, though it might be kind of overwhelming to someone who is new to skincare - I concur that Target has a lot of great mid-range brands and may be a good place to start), if she's struggling with anything really persistent, please please go to a dermatologist rather than letting her just use harsher and harsher products without adequate guidance.

Also, daily sunscreen is a great idea (particularly if/when she's using any acne-fighting ingredients, many of which can increase photosensitivity).

My hair changed a lot during puberty - I wish someone had started taking me to "grown-up" salons a bit sooner (I had long hair that rarely got cut at all). I got great advice from hair stylists who were able to help me deal a lot better with my changing hair than my parents were. Whether or not it comes from a professional, help her adjust her haircare routine appropriately as her hair changes.
posted by mosst at 11:24 AM on April 17, 2020

Someone mentioned Always Infinity pads earlier in the thread - I WISH those had existed when I started my period at age 11! My period memories at that age involve massive pads that made me feel really self conscious. Your daughter's experience may vary, of course, but she may appreciate either the Always pads or the reusable options that others have mentioned.

My skin care routine was really simple at that age - usually Cetaphil facial cleanser and the matching lotion. I do remember seeing a dermatologist for bumps on my face (cheeks) that turned out to be keratosis pilaris, and Cetaphil was what they recommended for a basic routine.
posted by cp311 at 1:33 PM on April 17, 2020

Your tween might enjoy a 3 month subscription to Birchbox or Ipsy. They fill out a profile and get a personalized box of sample-sized products each month. It's a fun way to try out new products, and it's a little surprise that comes in the mail each month.
I got 3-month subscriptions for my nieces a while ago and they loved them.
posted by cleverevans at 4:17 PM on April 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

I am sensitive to fragrance so I've been ride or die for Clinique since I was a tween.
posted by notjustthefish at 7:00 PM on April 17, 2020

If she's not interested in a cup, but is into a sustainable option there is also cloth pads. They are washable and reusable. You can get them from Etsy sellers, Party in my Pants, Gladrags, period aisle (formerly luna), etc. I find them more comfortable and absorbant than regular pads. Teh downside, especially for a tween, might be having to have a small wet bag on hand to bring one home from school or whereever.

For skincare, now if the time for her to form good habits which would basically be to gently wash your face in the AM (maybe with just water) and apply a basic moisturizer and to wash your face with some kind of cleanser or soap at night and apply a basic moisturizer again (no SPF in the night). My peers at that age with the most jacked up skin seemed to think they didn't need moisturizer because their skin was "oily" and then would use harsh stripping treatments and it was just a mess all around.

Also, skincare is such a rabbit hole, but I really really recommend at least trying to wait out pimples before throwing a bunch of shit at the problem. If she can stick to washing and moisturizer AND NOT TOUCH HER FACE, pimples may just show up and subside in a few days/ weeks when they occur. I don't think there's any dream product that can truely keep teens in puberty free of all pimples at all times unfortunately. Try to help her judge between "normal" and "needs a derm".
posted by WeekendJen at 3:45 AM on April 18, 2020

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