What is the right age for your child to start wearing makeup?

When your child transitions into their pre-adolescent years, they’ll start to express themselves in different ways. One of these ways is wearing makeup. It’s a safe and healthy way for your child to build their personality, but what age is the right time to start wearing it? And should you let them? Take a look at our helpful parenting tips below for help on talking to your child about makeup.

At what age will my child turn to makeup?

Around the age of 11 and beyond, your child might get interested in makeup. When they were small, chances are you let them experiment with a toy version of a makeup palette or let them apply a dab of lipstick for fun.

But at 11, they’re starting to feel self-aware and internalizing the influences around them. This includes their family, friends, and of course, celebrities. While not all celebrities wear makeup and they may not at all times, they’re often glammed up or retouched for events and photos.

This might push your child to want to experiment with makeup. They might also be encouraged by makeup gurus they watch online or follow on social media if they have active social media accounts. 

mother and daughter makeup
Julia Pleskachevskaia/Shutterstock

One study found that around 40% to 50% of 12- to 14-year-olds wear makeup. This includes staples like eyebrow pencils, mascara, eyeliner, and more coverage products like foundation, concealer, blush, and bronzer. It seems this is the common age range when your child will most likely ask you if they can finally try some beauty products.

But not to worry you can prepare with a bulleted list of topics you can discuss with your tween or teen. When you show that you’re open to dialogue, they’re more likely to develop healthy beauty habits and compromise with you instead of going behind your back doing whatever it is they wanted to do in the first place.

How can I talk to my child about makeup?

One important question you can ask your child before talking about makeup is why they’re interested in makeup in the first place:

  • Wanting to improve self-esteem
  • Wanting to fit in with their peers
  • Wanting to express themselves in a creative way
  • Wanting to impress someone they’re attracted to
  • Wanting to mimic a role model
  • Wanting to cover up skin imperfections

If you as a parent don’t feel comfortable with your child going to school in a full face of makeup, you can let your child know how you feel. Perhaps letting them wear something like a tinted lip balm and eyebrow pencil or skin-tone appropriate blush and lip gloss is better than saying no altogether.

You might also set boundaries for when and where it’s OK to wear makeup. For instance, you might give them the green light for special occasions like school dances, parties, or family gatherings, but not every single day at school.

We know makeup is often seen as an inappropriate tool used to increase sex appeal, and perhaps that’s why so many parents are reluctant to allow their children to even go near it. But let’s face it: Tweens will likely go full rebel mode if you double down on their makeup privileges. The ideal tone you want to set is understanding and relatable, so your child can feel comfortable talking to you about what they would like to try. 

This is not an exhaustive list of the possible reasons your child might want to try makeup. The main thing to remember is you and your child’s makeup discussion will benefit the best if you find a good middle ground.

What are helpful makeup basics? 

Instead of steering your child away from makeup completely, you can teach them safe habits they can develop until they’re ready to wear makeup during their teen years. Some common tips you can impart are cleaning brushes and tools regularly to avoid infections.

Another big thing is to use products by their expiration dates. For starters, an opened mascara will typically last between three and six months. On the other hand, powder eye shadow can last up to two years. The expiration date also depends on your makeup brand, so checking with the manufacturer is a good idea.

You should also warn your child about sharing makeup and tools with other people. For sanitary reasons, they should use their own kits and tools at all times. 

Besides cleanliness, you can impart some makeup application wisdom. If you’re not a makeup enthusiast, many beauty counters and department store cosmetic sections offer free application demonstrations. At these sessions, you and your child can discover natural looks that are age-appropriate. 

mother and daughter makeup
Shift Drive/Shutterstock

Lastly, explain to your child that skin care is a big part of makeup. This step is especially helpful if they want to use makeup to cover up blemishes like acne or uneven skin tone. Your family can shop for natural facial cleansers, moisturizers, and face masks together so your tween can learn about healthy skin care.

Are there other alternatives to makeup? 

Many makeup brands contain questionable ingredients. Department store makeup alternatives include food-based products like fruit-tinted lip balms and cheek tints. There are countless makeup do-it-yourself projects you and your child can try out at home. This is a great opportunity to open up a dialogue about makeup with less pressure.

If you feel that your child is too young for makeup, you can encourage them to try other ways of self-expression. This can mean trying out new clothing, getting a hair makeover, enrolling them in online art classes, or guiding them toward using makeup as a creative tool instead of a self-esteem booster. 

So there you have it. The makeup discussion between you and your child can be relaxed and engaging. It can even turn into a learning activity if you decide to craft your own products at home. Just remember that your sweet child is growing up, but you can be the role model they look up to by teaching them healthy makeup habits.

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