The Great Makeup Debate: How Young is Too Young?

should you let your daughter wear makeup?

Wasn’t it yesterday when your daughter didn’t even want to get her face painted at the carnival because it scared her?
In a flash, she is immersed in the world of fashion. She has traded in her ‘Kids National Geographic Magazine’ for a subscription to ‘Seventeen’ although she is only 13.

If you are lucky, your daughter has made it to high school without showing an over-the-top interest in fashion or make-up.  
Just as development during the tween to early teen years tends to vary greatly from individual to individual, so do more mature interests in appearance and the affairs of the outside world.

This can make the makeup dilemma even more difficult. What age is too early? The answer to this question relies on several factors.
If your daughter does show an early interest in makeup, dealing with this issue can be quite difficult. So, what do you do?

Related: Study: Younger Girls Are Eager To Wear More Makeup

Here are some thoughts and guidelines to help you determine how you want to handle the issue:

1. Go with your gut, but offer an explanation. If you have strong feelings against her wearing makeup it is important to discuss your reasoning with your child. She doesn’t have to agree with your concerns, but by discussing the issue with her you are at least acknowledging that you respect her enough to offer an explanation.

2. Look to school policies for a guide. Many Middle Schools(and even some High Schools), for example, clearly prohibit the wearing of makeup during school hours.

3. There is room for compromise. There is a big difference between wearing a little massacra and blush versus full-face makeup. If you are willing to let your daughter use makeup, discuss what  types of products and how much.

4. Help her learn how to do it right. Learning how to correctly apply makeup is indeed an art, hence the term ‘makeup artist.’ Take her to the makeup counter at your local department store so she can learn how to appropriately apply makeup. Even resources such as You Tube offer some good demonstrations on this fine art.

Related: 8 Ways To Help Kids Regain the Childhood

5. Regardless of whether you are allowing her to wear makeup or not, rules regarding this issue are a must. If for example you are prohibiting her, make sure she knows the consequences if she disobeys you. If you are okay with her wearing makeup, create clear guidelines that define what you mean.

Making the decision about makeup can be difficult. This is especially true if your daughter has developed early.

Physical development does not necessarily correlate with emotional or intellectual development. Your young daughter may want to look like the heroine in her favorite television show, but does she truly understand how she appears to the outside world?

In general, early developing girls are more prone to depression and self-esteem issues. This can be especially difficult if they dress and act beyond their years.
While they may be able to sport the look, they are often ill prepared to manage the reactions of the world at large, especially the attention of older boys and men. This can lead to confusion, misunderstanding and in some cases dangerous situations for these young girls.

Making the makeup decision is just one more rite of passage as a parent. Remember, while you may not be ready for your little girl to grow up, she will do it anyway.
Communication is the key to ensuring that even if your daughter does not agree with your decision at least she will understand your reasoning.

How young is too young to let your daughter wear makeup?

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Jennifer Powell-Lunder and Barbara Greenberg are authors of the hit book, "Teenage as a Second Language: A Parent's Guide to Becoming Bilingual."  They've set up an interactive website for parents and teens to listen, learn and discuss hot topics and daily dilemmas. You can find it at

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