Let’s talk about the “Sephora bullies.” I realize that’s a great way to lose half the readership (“What’s a Sephora? Why does she think I care? It’s probably liberal; where’s my Cryptoquote?”)

Let me explain. “Sephora bullies” refers to the toxic trend of preteen girls storming the mall staple beauty store to trash makeup samples, berate the clerks trying to rein them in and generally behaving like, well, the children they are.

Still there? Then you should know there are also “Sephora brats” which refers to the same preteen demo (think ages 9-12) casually dropping hundreds of their parents’ dollars on Drunk Elephant brand creams, hydration masks and plumping lip glosses, for instance. Who hasn’t seen the viral clip about the little girl shopping at Sephora recently who pouted, loudly, when her mom made her keep her skin care and fragrance purchases to $500 instead of the $900 she had hoped for? When told she had three of one product, her response was chilling: “I know.”

As someone who only buys Clinique when there’s a free gift with purchase, this last is foreign to me. That said, I don’t usually pounce on the young folk for behaving badly because, unlike many in my Boomer generation, I actually remember doing the same stupid stuff – or a primitive iteration of it. The big difference of course being there was no social media to record our foolishness and for that we should be enormously grateful.

Sephora, with its trademark black and white mini bags and solid commitment to never greeting anyone over 50 when they enter the store, must be wondering why this is happening. I mean, nobody says “Ulta bullies” or “Ulta brats.” Where is the fairness in that? I dunno. But I do know when I walk into Ulta they greet me with a face that looks more “We’re glad you’re here” and less “Ugh, we don’t even SELL laxatives.”

Sorry; it’s my personal experience. Perhaps yours is different. Truth is, I can’t even get Chico’s to greet me. CHICO’S!!!!! Could it be my resting B-face? My “I’m just here for the sales rack in the waaaaay back of the store” vibe? That’s fair.

To be clear, Sephora didn’t ask for any of this. They were humming along peddling mid-level to higher end cosmetics and hair care products for years without incident. Little did they know their stores would be gut-punched by packs of marauding preteen girls bent on testing the latest TikTok influencers’ reccs. Yes, TikTok. Despite its clumsy, hyper-defensive ad campaign acting like it’s going to, like, totally cure cancer or some stuff someday, TikTok continues to spawn too much bad behavior and stupid stunts. Normalizing beauty vandalism is just part of the problem.

I don’t blame the beauty “influencers” with their endless makeup tutorials. Many are helpful and fun to watch and were never intended for a pre-teen audience. But the kids were watching and now 9-year-olds are fluent in concealers and pore minimizers.

The parents that are the problem, of course. They need to, well, parent. Here’s a suggestion on how to handle your aspiring young hooligan.

Parent: “Going to Sephora with your pals?”

Daughter: “Yeah.”

Parent: “Hey! Did you know you can get an oozing lip fungus from those product testers? You can go blind from shared eyeshadow, too. Thousands of dirty hands have touched them. And the lotions? They’re so contaminated by all those people trying them if you use that stuff your skin will drip off your bones like queso dip. They’re making a “Final Destination” movie about it…”

Here’s a suggested “Sephora brat” script:

Daughter: “Mom, I’m going to Sephora so I need $250 for some lip plumpers, a perfume that makes me smell like Hailey Beiber and anti-aging serum.”

Parent: “Hahahahahahahahhahaha! Here’s ten bucks for Claire’s. Enjoy!”

Problem solved.