In this day of beauty bloggers, Instagram filters and celebrity beauty trends, young girls yearning to wear makeup are more prominent than ever. But as parents of the little girls who once played with lipstick and pranced around in mommy’s high heels, it can be tough to know when it’s the right time. Many parents struggle with the question: When should I allow my daughter to start wearing makeup?
It can be a tough balance to let children come into their own without letting them grow up too fast. And while there are no hard and fast rules on this topic, there are some expert guidelines you can look to for help.
More than skin deep
One of the best pieces of advice from experts is to simply use common sense. Clinical psychologist Jamie Howard says that a little common sensecan go a long way, particularly when it comes to a younger child.
She notes that certain events are appropriate for young girls to wear makeup, such as a performance or dance recital. Further, she says that if young girls or young teens want to get a manicure with friends or family or wear a light lip balm, there is no concern. However, she does express concern when makeup gets to a point of sexualizing the teen to look too old. That, she says, crosses a boundary. Things like dark lipstick, smoky shadows on the eyes, thick liner, etc., can be taken too far.
When it comes to slightly older teens, it can be tougher. While balancing being supportive and wanting your child to be able to feel confident in their appearance, it can get tricky.
Dr. Howard cautions parents that the wrong message could actually hamper their child’s self-confidence. So it is key to let your child know that you love her exactly how she is and that her appearance is not the most important thing about her.
Being a teen can be difficult these days. Throw in the pressures to look perfect brought on by social media and the likes of teens like Kylie Jenner who, seemingly, obsesses about beauty and shares it with her loyal young following, it can be even tougher.
However, expecting your daughter to avoid makeup forever is unrealistic.
Carol Tuttle, mother of five and author of “Dressing Your Truth” says to start with lip gloss around ages 10, 11 and 12. Then move on to foundation and concealer at about ages 13 and 14. She says that eye shadow, blush and eyeliner are appropriate by ages 15-17. After all, as your teen becomes an adult, she will want to know the proper way to apply makeup… and a few years of practice can prepare her.
According to the experts at Parents.com, parents and their children should set up a basis for makeup rules to avoid fighting about the topic. While, they say, elementary school is too young to wear makeup, a little lip balm is fine.
As kids grow into teens, suggest concealer to cover blemishes, a bit of powder (rather than caking on full-blown foundation), some gloss and maybe a swipe of mascara. Even a bit of natural-looking bronzer or naturally shaded blush is acceptable.
Concentrate on the items that accentuate your child’s natural beauty rather than hide it. For example, if your child has freckles, let her know that they are a unique and beautiful feature she has, therefore, she shouldn’t cover them up with heavy makeup.
Though we’re talking about makeup… let’s take one step back. The first part in feeling comfortable in your own skin (for your child, and yourself!) is high-quality skincare. As teens go through hormonal changes, acne or blemishes can hinder self-esteem. If your child’s skin is prone to breakouts, it’s a good idea to get a good cleanser that fights acne. And though it’s natural to have zits here and there, if your child is experiencing intense breakouts, a visit to the dermatologist may be necessary.
Further, it’s wise to teach kids early on about how to preserve their own beauty. Skincare products that offer superior hydration and replenishment can help nurture your teen’s skin long into the future. And it’s never too early to start taking good care of our faces with high-quality cleansers, toners and moisturizers. Don’t forget the SPF, particularly for teens who play outdoor sports. Always aim for SPF 30 or higher and reapply as needed.
Lead by example
Though they may not always admit it, your teen is watching you and taking to heart what you do. So be sure you have and display a healthy attitude toward beauty, makeup, skincare and self-confidence. Because no matter how many times you tell your child she’s beautiful, if you’re tearing yourself apart she will start looking for flaws in herself.
Above all, teaching your child to appreciate her natural beauty is the best advice. Everyone is beautiful in their own way and makeup should be used to highlight features, not go against them. At times, every one of us can feel insecure. But with the right tools — and the right support system — it can be easier to love ourselves.