On TikTok, young girls are increasingly influenced by cosmetic marketing usually intended for an older audience.

Sephora — a cosmetics franchise known for selling trendy products like “Drunk Elephant” — is seeing a spike in interest.

On Dec. 31, TikTok influencer and first-year New York City fashion student Gianna Caldera described her experience shopping for Drunk Elephant at her hometown Sephora on her account with over 185,000 followers. A video shows her reaching for the last box when suddenly, a young girl snatches it. With already two Drunk Elephant products in hand, the young girl taunted Caldera, “Beat you to it.”

“I don’t normally go in store, but for the reason of the video I decided to go in one day and that’s what sparked it,” Caldera said in response to the viral video. “I was so taken aback when I saw literal 10-year-olds running around yelling, ‘Where’s toner, where’s retinol cream?!’”

The video, with over 18 million views and three million likes has reached audiences globally and inspired others to speak out on their “Sephora girl” experiences. Both employees and customers have spoken out, in New York and beyond. 

Hadicha Muminova, a Sephora employee in Katy, Texas, reported busier stores, loss of inventory due to damaged testers and increased theft — mostly by adolescents. 

“Our entire section of Sol de Janeiro was ruined this weekend because of how many girls were there trying to get samples, playing with it,” she said, recalling the release of a new fragrance and moisturizer. “That was the first time I saw the side effects because before when a company would release a new product it wouldn’t get that much attention from girls that age.”

13-year-old Sephora shopper Makayla Gorley said that using skincare products such as Drunk Elephant makes her feel more confident and has fewer blemishes on her face. 

“I find things I think are cool, then buy it if I like the reviews,” she said, adding that she finds her inspiration by scrolling through TikTok.

Caldera and Muminova agreed that social media and parenting are shaping adolescent behavior today. Caldera pointed out that the new generation, raised during quarantine, turned to social media for influence, leading to underdeveloped social skills and often rude behavior towards customers and employees.

 “It’s the fact that these 10-year-olds are seeing the product on TikTok … I feel like parents should definitely look at what their children are watching on social media and monitor that,” she said. 

Similarly, Muminova admitted that “there are only one or two times whenever the kids are monitored by their parents, but most of the time the kids just come in freely, the guardians are not around and they act out.” 

Not only has the ‘Sephora girls’ phenomenon been difficult for some Sephora employees and customers, but also for the younger consumers themselves. 

Board-certified dermatologist Brooke Jeffy has been active on Instagram with her account, @brookejeffymd which has over 51,000 followers. On her account, Jeffy has been breaking down the side effects of the “excessive skincare tween trend.” She said that “some of these products in some of these lines that are more developed for adults have ingredients that are very harsh for younger skin … The concern is that when tweens and younger teens use these products it can hurt the skin barrier.” 

According to Jeffy, kids using products created for anti-aging purposes that are present in many of the “Drunk Elephant” products may be causing more damage to their skin in the long run. 

However, this doesn’t mean that younger girls can’t participate in skincare at all. 

“The most important thing that kids can do is protect their skin from sun exposure and take care of it with gentle cleansers and moisturizers,” Jeffy said.

It is recommended that adolescents avoid products with retinol, exfoliating acids and vitamin C, which are the most common active ingredients found in the most recent trending skincare products. Jeffy emphasized, “we shouldn’t be using those [products] when there is no problem to address.”

In 2022, Drunk Elephant reached over $100 million in global net sales.