My 14-Year-Old Niece Talked Me Through Her Beauty Route, and I Was Shocked by What She Told Me

beauty products owned by 14 year old

I recently had the chance to sit down and interview my 14-year-old niece (specifically, my best friend’s elder daughter) about her beauty routine, and it was fascinating. Casey is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, which I’m not saying just because I love her, and I was struck by both the relief she feels when using these products and her concomitant certainty that they’re not doing very much for her skin. (Which they totally can’t! Because she is 14! And as she knows I don’t think she needs any of these!)

I’m sure this won’t be surprising to people who spend a lot of time with teenagers, but I don’t, so I was really interested in what she told me. And also sold by it, too: As I flew home from meeting up with her family in Miami, I headed to the airport on a few hours’ sleep, I noticed how puffy my face was at the airport bathroom — and I made a note to buy that Milk cooling gel.

So, Casey, tell me about your beauty routine.

We’re gonna start out with the NYX Jumbo Highlighter ($5.50). I think this is actually very good, but sometimes it shows up, sometimes it just blends away and doesn’t do anything. But it’s good for, like, inner highlights.

Wait, I need some context. Is this what you do every day?

No. I don’t highlight every day.

Can you start by showing me your morning routine?

Okay. This is the Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream ($68). It’s very nice, see? [Casey depresses the pump.]

[To be fair, it’s a really nice way to dispense product.] Oh wow, very deluxe.

It’s very nice moisturizer. Sometimes it feels like, I don’t know how much it’s moisturized my skin, but it makes me feel special having it.

What about it makes you feel special?

Because it’s so fancy. You know, I feel like most of these products are just to be preppy and not to actually do anything to my skin.

When you say “preppy,” what do you mean?

I mean most of the people on TikTok and like all my friends have this stuff.

Okay, but what is preppy? A style?

Kind of.

Or a way of life?

[Casey’s mom interjects: “Preppy to teenagers in 2023 is not what preppy used to be!”]

Preppy is like girly-girl style. Cowgirl is preppy.

When you say “cowgirl,” do you mean literally cowboy boots?

Cowboy boots and a cowgirl hat. That’s preppy. Kendra Scott is preppy. It’s like pink and bubbly.

Where do you buy preppy things?

Lululemon.

Casey, are you serious? How about Aerie?

Yeah, I guess.

Pink? [The Victoria’s Secret adjacent store.]

Yeah.

Not really?

Yeah, nobody really uses Pink anymore. Oh, Aritzia’s very preppy.

I used to work for Aritzia. So it’s weird, trendy, online, popular, girly stuff.

Yeah, fancy girl.

And you like this style?

Yes.

Are there rival styles in your school?

No. There’s only 32 kids in my whole eighth grade.

So everyone’s doing some kind of preppy?

Almost everybody.

One’s Hello Kitty and the other one’s like, “I’m eight years old and I have my mom pick out my outfit.”

So, preppy can refer to beauty products and clothing. Are there other things that can be preppy or not preppy?

Yeah, like, aesthetic stuff. Like, this bottle [of Miss Dior perfume] is aesthetically pleasing. With a sunset view.

Right.

See, aesthetic. It’s aesthetically pleasing, do you understand? It’s got a nice view behind it, and this just is aesthetic and beautiful.

But it’s also partly because it looks wealthy, right?

Yeah. You can tell if someone’s not rich because they can’t do preppy well. Oh, you know what else is preppy? These flower clips. [I love these.] Claw clips are very preppy.

Back to your beauty products.

So I used the moisturizer. This is super preppy and aesthetic, right? Everybody likes Drunk Elephant. And then I use Glow Recipe [Blur Drops] ($32) — which actually, come to think of it, it squirts out a lot, and it kind of smells like mold. [Casey is exactly right about this and bizarrely I had the same problem with too much squirting product — possibly this isn’t a bug but a feature, Glow Recipe??]

Do you feel like you need a moisturizer?

Yeah. I guess.

But you don’t really?

I guess. Well, I kinda do. I mean, I don’t know. I feel like everybody should have a moisturizer.

Where did you learn that? TikTok?

Okay, let’s move on. Then I use the Milk Makeup [Cooling Water, $28], which is a cooling gel.

Why do you need a cooling gel?

Stop.

I’m interested.

Because Milk’s a pretty brand, and I had to get one.

Okay, wait, wait, wait, wait. Do you like that because of how it looks, or do you like it because of how it works?

Um, how it looks.

Right.

It works. They all work, okay. Like, none of them make me break out, and none of them are doing wrong to my skin.

So they don’t hurt, you’re saying?

They’re not hurting me in a way.

And it’s enjoyable to use them? Do you associate, like, any difference at all?

I don’t know. I feel like I actually have been seeing a little bit of a difference. My skin has cleared up.

Really? What was wrong with it before?

I had a lot of acne. I mean, I still have a few acne, but it went away when we went to Miami.

I think the humidity and stuff is good for you.

My mom got this on clearance at Marshall’s but I bought it off her — Fenty Beauty’s contour stick ($32). I used this, like, just to feel cool. It does do stuff, but I don’t like to put a lot on. Then I have this from Rare Beauty [Soft Pinch Liquid Blush, $23], but look, it’s kind of chalky.

Do you like Selena Gomez? Do you buy Rare Beauty because of her or because you like the products?

I just like this. I like Rare Beauty. I have their highlighter ($25), which is a little dark, but it’s actually pretty.

How are you learning how to apply these products? TicTac? [Yeah, I said TicTac.]

With my brain.

No, seriously, where do you figure it out?

Like literally with my brain.

Okay, okay.

Then I have the [Sol de Janeiro] 40 or the 68. And I have these [Dior Addict Lip Glow lip balms, $40], which I really love.

I’m noticing that everything here, except for the Drunk Elephant moisturizer and the Milk thing, is pink.

Yeah, a lot of it’s pink. And then I have this little mini Drunk Elephant stuff, which I just brought. This is a night serum ($90). I have the Isle of Paradise drops ($32), which gave me a fake tan.

So tell me, which of these do you use every day?

I use this [Dior lip balm] every day. This [the Fenty contour stick] I use every other day. I use this [Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask, $24] when I don’t want to waste my Dior. And this [Bom Dia cream, $22] — I don’t like using a lot because it’s so small.

So you’re rationing it?

Yeah, basically. It smells really good — it just feels sweet and pretty.

What’s your favorite product here? Like if you had to choose one, what could you not lose?

[She chooses the Dior lip gloss.] It just makes me feel clean, you know? Most of these products just make me feel clean.

So it’s psychological?

I think the Milk cooling gel does work.

When you go into Sephora, how do you choose what products to buy?

You know, you go to your best friends’ house and you use a bunch of their stuff, and then you kind of like it and then you just go buy it. See, [her best friend] really liked this. And I went to the Sephora and I got another one. Like today I got the Drunk Elephant drops [the rose ones, $38] because they’re always sold out, but I really wanted the bronze drops ($38) and they were sold out. I feel like [the rose ones] are kind of useless, I’m not gonna lie.

So a lot of this is just you feeling better because you have it.

Yeah. I don’t know — it’s just like, yeah.

Are you trying to look pretty?

No. I don’t know.

What are you accomplishing, do you think?

Nothing. I don’t know. I don’t think any of this makes me look pretty. Except these [the Dior lip glosses] actually do make you look pretty. It kind of gives, like… I don’t know. It’s clean.

It’s important to you that it feels really clean?

Yeah. Okay. And then this makes you feel really clean. I like perfume. My mom doesn’t like that. She would never buy any of this stuff. She’s very — have you met her? She’s so artificial.

Casey, I don’t know if that’s the word you want. [Casey’s mom literally has one of those apps that gives you the safety warnings for sunscreens in CVS.]

Oh wait! Not artificial. Yeah, the opposite of artificial. She doesn’t like any of this stuff. Did you see my sister’s deodorant? It’s a freaking crystal. It’s a literal crystal. Mine’s a normal Dove.

Do you have anything else to say about your products?

I think they all work decently well. None of them made me break out, which is a plus.

And they make you feel better.

They do. I feel like I’m a very elaborate person.

So you like pretty things that are aesthetic, ideally. Where did you get that from? Because I don’t feel like your mom has expensive taste.

She doesn’t. She loves a deal. I’m very high quality. I don’t like crafty stuff.

Do you think you picked this up from TikTok or from your friends?

If I don’t like it, I’m not gonna buy it.

Does it make you feel kind of safe? To know that everything’s together and you look, like, together and stuff like that?

Yeah, I like being together. Nobody in my family is very organized or like, put together, and it’s really gross. It just makes me feel good about myself. And I feel like if I don’t do this, I feel absolutely gross.

Casey, this has been extremely fascinating. Is it OK with you if I put this interview on my blog?

Okay. As long as I get the money [from affiliate sales, as we had agreed], that’s cool. Do you want to see my TikTok dance?

Yeah, of course.

Here, let me show you. [She shows me.] That’s like preppy — like, aesthetic.

Do you want to be famous on TikTok?

No. It’s not special. I don’t want to be known for TikTok. That’s not successful. That’s just posting a dance, and then trying to get people to think you’re cool.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

An interior designer. I think that’s a very cool job. Or a real estate agent. I would like to find houses for people.

Casey’s product list:

Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream, $68
NYX Jumbo Highlighter, $5.50
Glow Recipe Blur Drops, $32
Milk Makeup Cooling Water, $28
Fenty Beauty’s contour stick, $32
Rare Beauty Soft Pinch Liquid Blush, $23
Rare Beauty highlighter, $25
Drunk Elephant night serum, $90
Isle of Paradise drops, $32
Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Crush Cheirosa fragrance mist, $24
Sol de Janeiro Bom Dia cream, $22
Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask, $24
Drunk Elephant bronze drops ($38)
Drunk Elephant Rosi drops, $38