The Gerber Life Parenting Blog

When to Allow Your Child to Start Wearing Makeup

July 17, 2015

Teenage girls putting on makeupAccording to a recent article by Lauren Smith in Glamour magazine, girls are wearing makeup at younger ages than ever before. The article cites a survey among 1,000 women in the UK conducted by, an online beauty products retailer, found that many girls start to wear some kind of makeup product when they are as young as 11 years old. This might be shocking to some people, but probably not to many parents.

If you have a daughter who is about that age, she may have asked you if she can wear makeup. If she hasn’t, she soon may, which invites the question that many parents seek to answer:  At what age should girls wear makeup?

For parents still deciding how to answer that question, here are a few considerations:

There are no easy answers. According to Jan Faull, a parenting former parenting columnist at the Seattle Times and author who has a Master’s degree in early childhood education, a hard line should be drawn at the elementary school level. Once your daughter is in junior high or high school, she notes, there are no concrete rules about makeup, and so the parent and child need to agree on the conditions that determine which makeup can be worn and when.

Even if you say no, your child may not listen. Kids will be kids. If you have forbidden your daughter to wear makeup but she wants to wear makeup badly enough, she may find a way to sneak a tube of mascara to school or to borrow some from a friend who already wears it. You won’t be able to avoid the makeup issue forever, so it’s better to come to an agreement with your daughter and to set parameters, rather than letting it spiral into something that could damage the parent-child relationship.

Tell your daughter that she looks great with or without makeup. Young girls and women are under immense societal pressure to “look” a certain way. Explain to your daughter that images and videos in magazines, the Internet and TV are manipulated through design programs such as Photoshop and by clever editing, which create impossible standards of beauty to live up to. When the time comes, make sure to show your daughter how to apply makeup properly, and to have an honest discussion with her about why she feels she needs makeup in the first place.

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Categories: Parenting Tips
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