Skip to main content

5 useful tips for when your teen wants to wear makeup

You may be taken by surprise when, one day, your tween or teen is suddenly interested in wearing makeup. In your parental eyes, that little girl of yours is not ready for a bold red lip or a curling mascara, but — lo and behold — she may have other, more sophisticated ideas in mind.

This is all a part of growing up, and it’s your job to encourage your child’s creativity, boost their confidence, and help lead them on an age-appropriate path. It’s a tricky line to straddle, and you’ll want to balance playing the part of their bestie and being the responsible parent. So before you jump on your instinct to either ban all the makeup products or give in and buy palettes filled with glittery eye shadows, think through the repercussions and take these tips into consideration.

teens applying makeup
Solid photos/ Shutterstock

Understand your child’s motivation

How old should you be to wear makeup? This is a question with subjective answers — and there is no definitive right or wrong here. So, instead of setting a strict age restriction, ask a few more productive questions. Even if your child is on the younger side, you can use this opportunity to communicate openly. Why do they want to start wearing makeup? What is motivating this decision? Are their friends wearing makeup to school? Are they insecure about the sudden appearance of acne? Do they enjoy watching beauty tutorials on YouTube? This can help steer you both in the right direction and start a dialogue about inner beauty, aesthetics, confidence, and adolescence.

Start simple

Makeup for tweens can be super simple — and subtle. So, before you put up a fight, consider a few basic options. Some lightly tinted lip balm, a coat of clear mascara, and a hint of cheek color may be the compromise you’re both looking for. It is not a total transformation, but it’s a good beginner routine. Your makeup rookie will be excited to add some products into their daily repertoire, and you won’t have to worry — you kiddo will still look like your kiddo.

Shop together

Don’t want your child wearing blue eyeliner and neon eye shadow just yet — or, you know, ever? Go to the store with them and help gently guide them through the available options. If your child scoffs at your mild aesthetic, seek out the help of a professional. An employee at a department store makeup counter should be able to help you both find that happy medium. Let’s be honest, sometimes a teenager just wants to be treated like adult by someone who is not their primary caregiver.

mom applying makeup to teenage daughter
Syda Productions/Shutterstock

Make it a bonding experience

Want to make this a sweet moment and a fun milestone? Give each other crazy makeovers. Raid your collection, and paint up those eyes, lips, and cheeks. Let your teen go a little wild with your look, but maybe go simple and understated with theirs. Show them that you know what you’re doing, and that you understand that — when it comes to makeup — less can be more. But don’t ruin their fun — let them pick out the craziest outfit for you, do your hair whatever way they please, and set up a whole photo-shoot session. It’s all in good fun.

Emphasize skin care

While you are slowly adding products to your tween or teen’s makeup arsenal, be sure to emphasize the importance of skin-care health and hygiene. If they think they’re old enough to wear makeup, then they need to be responsible about their skin. First, they need to remember to remove makeup at the end of the day. Cleansing, moisturizing, and using SPF should be a normal part of their daily routine.

What’s more, if they’re turning to makeup because of breakouts (hello, adolescence!), be sure they understand that, while some products can mask imperfections, they won’t get rid of them. Introduce better cleansers, targeted moisturizers, and gentle acne treatments to help them get through this potentially awkward phase. If your child’s confidence is really plummeting because of skin issues, take them to see a dermatologist. Over time, proper care will help them look and feel far better than any single makeup product can.

You want your tween or teen to turn to you for comfort, care, and consideration. You want their trust and their ear, so be willing to have the makeup conversation — even if you’re not willing to accept the fact that they are growing up quickly. A little makeup might help give them the boost they’re looking for. With your advice, encouragement, and steady mascara-wielding hand, you’ll be able to help them understand the basics, so they can more readily embrace their beauty — on the inside and out.

Editors' Recommendations

Lauren Barth
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Lauren Barth is a freelance writer and digital editor with over a decade of experience creating lifestyle, parenting, travel…
5 genius house rules for teenagers you’ll wish you’d adopted yesterday
Make life easier with these house rules
Parents holding hands with daughter and son follows behind

Despite eye-rolling and verbal protest, most houses need a set of house rules for their teens to abide by. Establishing these house rules for teenagers presents a challenge to both parents and teens, but it’s a necessary step toward teaching your kids a vital life skill — which is taking accountability for one’s own actions. Plus, you’re also keeping your teen grounded in reality by establishing boundaries and communicating the message that every place and every situation has ground rules.

House rules may be a pain for your kids, but implementing them doesn't have to be. We've compiled some great ideas that’ll make the process less painful. Furthermore, if you involve your teen in setting up the rules and consequences, then most likely, you’ll get more buy-in.

Read more
How many calories should I let my teen eat per day? The answer is complicated
How to understand your teen's calorie needs
Teenage boy taking food from fridge

When children are young, parents are focused on their nutritional needs and ensuring they are growing, gaining weight, and hitting their physical milestones for their age. But, as kids get older and become teens, their nutritional needs change from what they were in the toddler, elementary, and tween years. Teens go through phases where they never seem to be interested in eating at all, or they seem to never stop eating, leaving many parents to wonder how many calories they should let their teens eat per day.
Every teen is different, which means their caloric needs are also different, so there's no one answer as to many calories a teen should eat in a day. Diet culture and disordered eating are also things parents need to be aware of when discussing a teen's diet, especially if obesity or weight is an issue. Helping teens focus on healthy eating habits is the key to ensuring they are eating enough calories a day, as well as maintaining a healthy weight, and ensuring they are developing a good relationship with food.

How many calories should a teenager eat a day to lose weight?
There are many factors that can impact a teen's weight, including diet, activity levels, and genetics. According to The Children's Medical Group, 21% of teenagers in America are obese, and a sensible diet that focuses on gradual weight loss is the best method to ensure lasting weight loss success for teens.

Read more
13 amazing books that celebrate Black culture to add to your kid’s library this Juneteenth
Add these books to your cart to celebrate Juneteenth this month
A mother reading her young child a bedtime story

When it comes to celebrating Juneteenth with your family and children, it can quickly get overwhelming. First, the newly cemented holiday remains a new historical fact for a lot of people. Some people look at it as a time to promote diversity, while others look at it as a time to celebrate freedom for all. Regardless, it's important to always focus on the history of Black Americans, particularly Texans, for this holiday.

Juneteenth should serve as a remembrance for Americans. President Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, declaring that all enslaved people should be free. Even though slavery was abolished on January 31, 1865, enslaved Black Americans in the state of Texas didn't know they were free until June. 19, 1865. Thousands of soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, and it was there they were met by enslaved people. They told them that they were all free. Even though that day would mark almost two years after slavery was abolished, Black Texans celebrated their freedom. Now known as Black Independence Day, Juneteenth serves as a reminder that freedom and equality are human rights that everyone deserves.

Read more