I am wondering when it is appropriate for my girls, ages 8 and 10, to start a skin-care regimen. They currently use Dove Sensitive Skin Soap for both face and body care. I noticed my 8-year-old is a bit oily in the scalp and face area. She also gets dry patches on her body in the winter. I think my older daughter is starting to get a little oily on her face, too. I don't want to saddle them with a long routine—they probably wouldn't do it anyway! Is it too soon to begin using separate facial products? Any suggestions?
Julie, via email
Your question is one I think about a lot. Young girls desperately want to be older, and often use lots of makeup to create that appearance. On the other hand, there are mothers who push their children to be overly concerned about their appearance from a very early age. Either way, a balance between these two issues is needed, and I appreciate your being concerned about what's appropriate. Thankfully, when it comes to skin care, what's appropriate is an easy decision and actually has little to do with age. (You'll have to write to me again when your girls want to start wearing makeup!)
Skin-care concerns and needs are not really age dependent. Skin care is simply about taking care of the skin, either to prevent problems from occurring or to treat problems after they have occurred. In fact, despite the way cosmetics companies segment skin-care needs into age groups, skin-care needs are relatively universal. Basically, skin needs to be clean and protected from the sun and environment. When skin-care problems show up, regardless of age, whether it's cradle cap, diaper rash, redness, dryness, wrinkles, or oily areas, you treat the condition. How you treat the condition is critical. Sensible, proven battle plans (sometimes including medical attention) and well-formulated products are essential for success.
Dry skin is first and foremost about avoiding products and conditions that make matters worse. Bar cleansers and soaps (even those from Dove), long, hot showers or baths, and overscrubbing skin can create dry skin or make matters worse. Using an elegantly formulated moisturizer (one with antioxidants and ingredients that mimic the structure of skin) over dry areas is extremely helpful. And if you live in an arid environment, you should consider using a humidifier in your home. During the day it is essential to protect the skin from sun with clothing, sun awareness, and a well-formulated sunscreen rated SPF 15 or higher.
Oily skin at the ages of 8 and 10 is probably related to hormone activity, but you should check with your physician about that. As long as blemishes aren't an issue, there isn't any real reason to treat oily skin. A flaky scalp can be caused by many things, from dry scalp to over-shampooing or using too much hair gel or mousse (that can cause flakes). It can also be a sign of dandruff or seborrhea, something else you should check with your physician about. For skin-care and hair-care products, Dove has some great options, but so do Clinique and Paula's Choice.
Source: Paula Begoun