Exploring Makeup for the First Time

By Lucille Lannigan

I can remember the excitement that came with exploring makeup as a child — sneaking into my mom’s lipsticks or playing with colorful, sparkly eyeshadow palettes. For a while, makeup was merely a dress-up component. As I entered middle school and began consuming more media, I wanted to start implementing it into my daily routine, but it was a bit of a battle with my mom who was hesitant to let me grow up in this way. 

Makeup is a form of self-expression. It allows people to develop their own tastes and styles. It’s a way to feel beautiful and confident. As children enter their tween years, they may be exposed to more examples of people wearing makeup and have their curiosity peaked. A study by Mintel Press Office found that 80% of tweens in the US used beauty and personal care products in 2016. You might be wondering if there is a specific age to allow your child to wear makeup, and the answer is: there isn’t one. Both you and your child can work together to know when it is the right time. If your child is beginning to take interest in makeup, it’s important to make sure they are exploring in a healthy and appropriate way. 

First, have a discussion about makeup. Ask your child why they want to start wearing makeup. While makeup is a great way to express oneself, it’s important that they don’t feel pressured. Research conducted in the UK by Cosmetify revealed that girls as young as six are asking to wear makeup for reasons like bullying if they aren’t wearing it, feeling ugly or social media. It’s important to instill in your child early on that they don’t need makeup to be beautiful or accepted.

In this discussion, you can also voice your own concerns about your child wearing makeup. Maybe you are hesitant to let them go to school with a full face of makeup or makeup that is too dark or bold. Explain why, but avoid reasons like it being too appropriate or attracting unwanted male attention. This is a harmful rhetoric to place into the mind of your child as they aren’t responsible for inappropriate sexualization or judgments from others. Conduct an open conversation where you both are expressing your wants and needs relating to makeup. Compromise, but make sure you are giving your child the freedom to express themselves.

Next, find products and brands that are safe for young, sensitive skin — it might be best to avoid foundation or heavy concealers altogether. Some makeup products have harmful ingredients so do your research, and invest in products that will be kind to your childs’ skin. Using hypoallergenic makeup is a good option to avoid ingredients that may irritate.

Along with beginning a makeup routine, introduce your child to skincare as well. Improper removal of makeup can lead to acne or infection. Make sure your child knows to fully remove their makeup using safe makeup removal. Like with makeup products, some removal products might be too harsh for your child’s skin. It also might be time to start using face wash and moisturizer. Teach your child how to implement these things into their morning or night routines to help keep their skin healthy.

Finally, begin brainstorming which products your child should start using and some that can maybe wait until they’re older. Mascara and lip gloss are some of the most basic makeup products and the easiest to use. Looking for neutral toned or even colorful shadow palettes can also be fun products for your tween to try out. If they’re wanting to experiment with eye products like eyeliner, mascara or eyelash curlers, make sure to teach them how to safely use the tools.

Ultimately, the best thing you can do for your tween or teen is encourage them. Create a space for them to comfortably self-express and develop their own style. This can look like telling them you’re proud of them for being themselves or complimenting their makeup looks (even the questionable ones) so that they feel supported at home first and foremost. If they walk out of the house with confidence, they are more likely to carry it with them throughout their entire day.


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