DGen Z is hyper-aware. Not only when it comes to political issues and sustainability, but also when it comes to their own bodies and well-being. While the generations before them skipped removing their makeup in the evening, young adults today take the time for their 7-step skincare routine.

“Do you know those girls who always look flawless, whose skin always glows, whose lips always shine?” The voice-over of the TikTok sound is soft, almost whispering. The underlying melody is reminiscent of the good world of a Disney romance. “You may not be one of them, but this is how you get their look.” One of the almost 3,600 young women who shared a video with the same sound has tied her dark blonde waves back from her face with a plush bunny ear headband. The girl – she looks barely older than 16 – takes off her eye patches to then present six more steps of her skin care routine: toner, snail slime, hyaluronic acid serum, moisturizer, eyebrow and eyelash serum and a rich lip mask. She says goodbye to the 160,000 TikTok users who viewed the video with an air kiss.

Creams for perfect skin? This is only of limited effectiveness in teenage years

Creams for perfect skin? This is only of limited effectiveness in teenage years

Source: Getty Images/Flashpop

The naturalness with which the young woman carries out this detailed routine is a phenomenon that can be found throughout Generation Z. Not only a surprising amount of time and effort is invested in perfect skin, but also money.

According to NielsenIQ, a company that collects consumer information, 61 percent of Gen Z buy beauty products in the high-price segment. “Generation Z gained purchasing power at an earlier age than previous generations,” the company summarizes. What is striking, however, is that 60 percent say they are “financially healthy,” i.e. able to cover their personal expenses while building up their savings. The financial barrier seems low. “It is therefore only logical that 61 percent of Generation Z buyers buy luxury beauty products,” according to NielsenIQ data. The older half of the age group, which includes those born between 1995 and 2010, is already firmly established in the job market. The youngest Gen Z representatives, on the other hand, are just 13 to 14 years old. Their parents’ wallets probably have to cover their expenses. But that does not mean that they forego high-quality products.

While millennials were still wearing their first “Neverfull” from Louis Vuitton until they dropped or saving up for Saint Laurent’s “Envelope”, Gen Z is investing in something they will never take off for the rest of their lives – their skin. From Dr. Barbara Sturm to Augustinus Bader and La Prairie: the higher the price of the product, the higher the investment in their own well-being – that’s their ultimate self-care formula. Given our digital world, this attitude and the desire for perfect skin is hardly surprising.

Dr. Barbara Sturm sets standards

Dr. Barbara Sturm will continue to serve as Chief Product Development Officer and brand ambassador. Terms of the deal were not disclosed

Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest and Co.: The generation grew up scrolling through a never-ending gallery of beautiful people with pore-free faces – whether edited or not. It is no longer a secret that social media leads to toxic comparisons of appearance and is therefore not good for many users. But it is not only the self-created pressure to resemble the “clean girls” and “Insta models” that triggers the intensity of the beauty routines.

Instead of studying the product pages of a women’s magazine or asking the nearest drugstore clerk, Gen Z gathers its knowledge from social media. They trust so-called “skin influencers” who give them advice in the style of a big sister, listen to celebrity beauty secrets in the Vogue bathroom and buy trendy products that change weekly – if not daily. An endless flood of information rushes through the Internet. When it comes to skin care, this leads to a real overload. What actually suits your own skin type? The skin care routines of people of the same age also give the impression that you urgently need to step up your beauty game – otherwise you might regret it in 30 years. The general uncertainty about the future also applies here.

4.7 million posts were shared under #skincareroutine on TikTok

4.7 million posts were shared under #skincareroutine on TikTok

Source: Getty Images/Westend61

Fear of aging is not a new phenomenon. Nevertheless, Gen Z is on average more concerned about the aging process and its impact on their appearance than the generations before them. According to market research company Circana, young adults are choosing makeup products with anti-aging effects such as reducing wrinkles early on. Around 70 percent already use anti-aging serums on a daily basis, according to the study. Young adults are adopting the skincare routine of an older generation. “I think the psychological aspect of starting an anti-aging routine at this age is damaging,” Dr. Anjali Mahto, a consultant dermatologist at Self London, told The Guardian. “Unfortunately, in my practice I am seeing more and more teenagers obsessed with the topic of aging. This is worrying and is no doubt being fueled by social media.”

The video “Things I do to slow down the aging process” went viral on TikTok last year. But not because of the creator’s helpful tips – but because of her age. A 14-year-old girl was standing where you would expect a mature woman to be. Her tips included applying face masks and retinol products – twice a day. Her motto: Better to slow down the aging process than to correct it later. But in most cases, intensive skin care and the premature use of anti-aging products are neither necessary nor useful. Instead, the skin is even over-cared for. Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, dermatologist at the British Cosmetic Dermatology Group, also told “The Guardian”: “It is good to take care of your skin, but not so much that you use lots of different products,” says the expert. “Most of them are not necessary, and some could even be harmful. Some skin is sensitive and some young people even use retinol, a form of vitamin A added to skin treatments that has an anti-aging effect, which can be harmful to sensitive skin.”

Is Gen Z really aging faster?

Mother and daughter in the sauna

Retinol – the holy grail of anti-aging. The active ingredient promotes collagen production and can help firmer skin in old age. However, it is useless when you are young. The reticular dermis (the thicker, lower layer of skin) is still developing in teenagers and already produces more collagen on its own. The attempt to stimulate this process, is therefore not only superfluous, there is even a risk that collagen production will be overstimulated and the skin’s natural cycle will become unbalanced. In the worst case scenario, this can lead to skin irritations such as redness, itching and flaky patches, as well as premature damage. The already thin skin becomes even finer and therefore more sensitive to light. Even everyday exposure to sunlight can damage the cells in this state. The consequence: premature aging. And even rich anti-aging creams can disrupt the skin barrier of young people. The many oils and fats that are needed as skin becomes increasingly drier with age clog the pores of young people. This can cause the sweat glands to become inflamed and cause pimples. Anti-aging care is therefore not recommended until the mid-twenties at the earliest, when the skin slowly loses moisture. The first signs of aging usually do not appear until the age of 30.

The desire for wrinkle-free skin – even at a young age

The desire for wrinkle-free skin – even at a young age

Source: Getty Images/Jupiterimages

Nevertheless, an age-appropriate skin care routine is a step in the right direction. Instead of fighting non-existent wrinkles, the focus should be on basic hygiene – especially for young people. Dermatologists recommend cleaning the skin twice a day and using light moisturizers. You should also make sure you use enough sun protection during the day. Yes, even in winter – even if that seems questionable given the heavy cloud cover. UV rays not only damage the skin and lead to premature aging, they can also cause skin cancer. If you still want to upgrade your skin care routine a little, you can add an additional serum. It makes the skin look fresh and radiant – without overtaxing it. The goal must be to feel good in your skin – no matter what age. You don’t need a whole drugstore inventory in the bathroom for that.

Editor’s note: Generation Z or Gen Z is the general term for all people born after 1995. Our author is one of them.