A social media firestorm is swirling around beauty retailer Sephora in response to the US locations’ apparent shifting demographic.

Teen and adult beauty shoppers have been uploading post after post on social media complaining that tween girls under 12 are flooding stores such as Sephora and Ulta Beauty. On TikTok and Instagram, the hashtags #sephora or #sephorakids reveal the conflict in full force, showing messed-up stores and product displays, and recounting run-ins in which young shoppers were rude to other customers and employees alike.

According to the complaints, this behaviour even includes grabbing products right from other shoppers’ hands, as one TikTok user shared. She specifically called out Drunk Elephant, a brand Glamour magazine recently called a “tween obsession”.

These same social media posts, many of which have gone viral, point out that Gen Alpha are busy buying products containing ingredients such as retinol, harsh exfoliating acids or pricey moisturisers, toners and serums designed to minimise the effects of aging. In other words, products that traditionally have been aimed at slightly older consumers.

Drunk Elephant, a self-described “clean beauty” brand acquired by Japanese conglomerate Shiseido in 2019 for $845m (£665m), responded to the attention by explaining on Instagram in December which of its products, specifically, would be recommended for kids.

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