Is there an appropriate age to start wearing makeup?

Kind of? I think it’s important that one develops a healthy attitude towards the physical/exterior concept of beauty, but people mature at different ages, go through different experiences at different times. I think if it’s someone very young, makeup as a creative outlet makes sense, and of course, young people experience things like acne and teasing. They should feel comfortable (and confident) using concealer or wearing a brighter lipstick if it helps restore some confidence as well. It’s tough at any age, because one has to balance the idea of the fun/creative side of makeup and that makeup is, in many ways, designed to improve what you have.

— Christine
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I may not be the best one to ask, because I was allowed to wear makeup out of the house at 13, and turned around many years later and allowed my daughter to wear it out at 12. Not that everyone does so young. Or allows their children to at those ages. On the flip side, it did give me and my own time to hone our makeup skills. And in my case, cover some bad acne while I was at it!

Great answer. I think the girl’s maturity has a lot to do with it. I think if she has expressed an interest then I would take her shopping to buy lipgloss, a mascara, something like bare minerals and a blush. I think that would make a good starter kit.

I’d say a little lipgloss or lipstick around 15. That’s when I allowed my daughter to wear a little makeup. But she’s not really into much makeup anyway . I think it looks odd when a child wears obvious makeup. Most kids are so beautiful naturally it’s unnecessary !

Yes I would say so. I know it’s really arbitrary but I’d say 15 years old to wear noticeable makeup outside the house, especially at school. One thing that I think is really not healthy is when very young girls wear makeup to try to look older.

I don’t know that I could say it any better, Christine! I was allowed to play with makeup as far back as I remember, but I was never made to feel like I needed to. It was just for fun, and when acne emerged, it was a way to feel less insecure. But even during the awkward teenage years, I was never pressured by family to cover up–that was something I asked to do for the sake of my own self-esteem.

Wow, this is a tough one! I have a toddler, she’s already eyeing my stash (looking for “crayons” and “markers”), trying to wear my shoes and carry my purses, so I’m sure makeup will be down the road. IDK, but I’m thinking maybe some natural looking makeup around pre-teen years, like light gloss, a little powder but nothing too crazy. I think there’s too much pressure on girls, even young ones, to look sexy and pretty, I don’t want her to get too focused on that. I think it’s really important to build her self-esteem so that she feels beautiful and confident INSIDE, and if she feels a little makeup will make her look better on outside, then fine, but looks shouldn’t be her whole focus.

I think it depends on the person and the circumstances. It isn’t the lipstick at 12 that makes girls struggle with confidence or body image, but the surrounding women and men and the message they deliver.

I SO agree with your statement, Linda! This is why I’m thankful that, for me, my Mom made the process more of a “coming-of-age” process instead of “this will make you feel beautiful, dear!” type of disquieting must-do thing! I made sure that my own daughter also saw this as such.

I’m not saying that there is one universal appropriate age for girls to start wearing make-up, but I don’t think it’s right or healthy to start TOO young. Seeing pre-teens or even toddlers wear make-up (ya know, like in those kids’ pageant reality shows) really makes me uncomfortable. It just doesn’t look right.

Probably not age but circumstances. Covering spots as a teenager felt more of a necessity than regular (colorful, visible) makeup to me. And before that came the Nivea fruity and then the tinted lip balms. I never considered those makeup.

I also do not mind bits of colours in hair or nail polish on kids. Not everyday but just for fun.
On the other hand a pro full face would probably be too much for even 18 years old.

Makeup isn’t that big of deal to me. It is all about the right time and place. It’s amazing to me that talc, wax and pigment can take on so much meaning. Yes you have to love the real you but makeup is also about fun and self expression. I always let my daughter play with makeup. I try not to give it more importance than it should have. My rule with it is you have to look your age and it has to be situation appropriate. For ex, in 5th grade, it was not allowed in school. Okay we need to respect that. And in 5th grade, being 10, you have to look 10 not 25 so no mascara or foundation, but in the right place like home or going out to lunch, a light e/s and nails painted is no big deal. The bigger deal you make about things , esp trivial things, the greater issues they become. Makeup won’t make you a slut. It won’t make you do drugs. It doesn’t mean you’ll grow up too fast. It is silly what we project onto inanimate objects. So I don’t have an age limit for makeup. It depends on the person. And what they are attempting to achieve with that makeup. I’d feel differently if my daughter was using that makeup at 13 to get into a bar but she has been raised better than that! Lol

I’ve thought about this one quite a bit. I let my 11 year old wear very light makeup to a wedding. Basically lip gloss, light mascara, and a touch of concealer to hide redness on her nose (she had a cold). I was allowed to wear lipgloss and mascara at 12. But my baby will be 12 in a few months and she seems so little! And, I turned 12 a few months into 7th grade, but she turns 12 in 6th grade. I’m thinking 13 for makeup (so 7th grade). Not too much, but she can start experimenting a bit. I actually have some UD shadows waiting for her to play when she is ready!

No. I think children and teens should be free to explore their creative side with non-permanent beauty and fashion items. I think things such as piercings and tats would be much more difficult parenting decisions. I had to negotiate my ear piercings (grade 5).

Makeup: whatever..it washes off. If your kid goes overboard, chances are one of their peers is going to help them see the light before you will.

i think it depends on what it is. if i had a young daughter who at, say, 10, wanted to wear some sparkly lipgloss or nail polish, i would be inclined to say ok. if i had a 5 year old who wanted to play with mummy’s makeup, fine. I didn’t start wearing makeup until i was 18, i think but that’s mostly because i didn’t really care. i think it comes down to, like you said, the individual. if my child has issues with their skin and they want something to make themselves feel better about themselves, that’s fine. πŸ™‚ time, place, person, moderation, reason, and the makeup itself should all be taken into consideration!

The other day I had the same question since my sister has twelve years and I was talking with a friend about that.

In my opinion I agree with you there isn’t a “correct” age to start wearing makeup I think is all about how do you feel about them. That’s why I prefer that she uses my makeup when she want to experiment or has something important to do and even in those cases she doesn’t wear a lot of things.

I love your answer Christine! I couldn’t have worded it any better! I remember my mother buying my first concealer at 13-14. It was clinique acne-care range…I really wanted it! Unless make-up (such as eyeshadows and powders) destroys developing skin at an early age (before 16) , I think any age is appropriate! πŸ˜€

(For transparency, I am a student researcher studying digital communities, specifically the online makeup blogging/vlogging community). I agree that it’s not a one size fits all judgement, you have to consider the maturity of of the individual. I also think what type of makeup you’re talking about is important. There’s definitely a difference between the lip gloss that a twelve year old might have and the eyeliner, mascara and lipstick a fifteen or sixteen year old might use.

Hi Jane! My research is part of a final ethnography assignment for my digital culture class. I already loved makeup blogs and vlogs so it seemed like the obvious choice!

That’s a tough question. I don’t have any daughters, and my sons didn’t choose to wear makeup outside of Halloween or school plays, so I haven’t actually dealt with this myself. Just like with clothes and almost anything else, I think it’s part maturity, part the child’s own preferences, and part what their peers are doing. However, if my kids wore makeup, I wouldn’t want to them to be sexualized too early. I don’t think kids need to go outside the house in a full face of sultry makeup at 12, ya know? Otherwise, I’m a big believer in letting a kid express their looks/personalities how they want, as long as they follow school/program rules and keep it safe, non-permanent., and age- and occasion-appropriate.

My younger son went through a phase as a pre-schooler where he’d steal my makeup. I gave him stuff I didn’t want and bought him a few things from the Dollar Tree. If scribbling over his face with sparkly Power Puff Girl eyeshadow pencils and wearing sheer pink lip gloss made him happy and saved my makeup, I found no harm in it. If he’d wanted to wear makeup as he got older, I would have supported it.

I wore clear, scented lip balms and glosses as a tween (Village Lip Lickers in the tins and Maybelline Kissing Potion). I graduated to lightly colored glosses and cream blush at about 11. At 12, I was allowed light pink and peach lipstick. At 14, I was allowed mascara, and eyeliner in brown, blue, and purple. By 15 I was wearing a full face and brighter colors (it was the 80s, after all). That progression worked for me, and I’d be comfortable with my kid doing something similar if he or she wanted.

Oh my gosh. I could never recall what the lip glosses in the tin were called. My sisters were obsessed with these πŸ™‚ They smelled so good.

Yeah I agree.

Also if you’re in performance art as a kid you often start wearing makeup young. I was in ballet, and we wore makeup for our performances starting about age 7. Some of it was to match our costumes or the theme of the dance, but some was just so we didn’t look so washed out under stage lighting. A lot of those girls started wearing makeup every day in their early teens, but I didn’t start wearing makeup outside of performances (I was also in various choirs, symphonic/orchestral groups, and bands from 5th grade through college) until I was in my mid 20s.

I agree with what’s been stated so far and want to suggest that parents and other influential adults consider the child’s ability to handle critical comments (“it’s superficial,” “only girls wear makeup,” “you’ll attract the wrong kind of boy,” etc.) about makeup before allowing him/her to wear it. A vulnerable or unprepared child might internalize such judgmental statements and feel that he/she is somehow “wrong” for wanting to wear makeup.

I started wearing makeup to school around 13 (blue eyeshadow! lilac eyeshadow! badly-coloured physician’s formula foundation powder!), but I had been wearing it for dance recitals for quite a bit longer (I vividly remember wearing mascara and pulling the “crunchies” off my lashes at age 7 or so!). My mum is not and never was a big makeup person, and my sister only saw it as part of her costumes for rhythmic gymnastics rather than a daily thing. I also developed very bad cystic acne – and I wanted it covered up, because it was awful and embarrassing and while I was never bullied for it severely, it was definitely something I perceived as “gross” about myself. That said, I was never into the “fourteen layers of smudged, unwashed black eyeliner” many of my friends were in high school even though I was kind of a scene kid.

IDK, I guess I don’t think it’s harmful at all as long as it’s made clear that it’s not required, that bad skin isn’t a reflection on your morality (and neither is your desire to want it less visible so you don’t have to explain it to people). For me, it was a way to avoid having to deal with criticism from idiots about my acne, and a way to make every day a little more like a Fancy Performance Day (which helps, when you have social anxiety and every day with people can feel like acting). I still insist on full makeup + dresses + tights when I have major presentations because the rituals of “getting into costume” really help my anxiety go away and help me get into character as Tarzi With Her Life Together.

I agree with you! I started wearing makeup in the the 3rd grade to cover horrible acne. I was one of those girls who matured at 8 and had the mentality of someone in my early 20s at that age too. I was often mistaken for a teen. I didn’t start wearing color product often outside of pictures or events where pics would be snapped until I was in my early teens. My go to look since then has always been a little base, a punchy lip, and a swipe of mascara!

I don’t have any kids myself, but I personally started wearing makeup at age 11. I recall my mom being not too thrilled about it and me not really caring either way (poor mom, but I was that kid). Although after a bit she did start asking me to do her eyeshadow when she went out on dates, so I think it worked out. Anyways, it was just pure fun. In particular I had this metallic silver lipstick that I adored and I would rotate between wearing it as a lipstick or as an eyeshadow (I honestly don’t know how I stood that, but I guess 11 year olds have different experiences with makeup)-most of the time at school. No teachers ever said anything to me about it, which is kind of amazing when I think about the dress codes we had. I think I probably got/started wearing mascara around that time too. Through my teenage years I kind of went back and forth with wearing makeup/not wearing makeup. The only makeup items I never wore before I became an adult were foundation and concealer, mostly because they weren’t “fun” items to me and I couldn’t be bothered.

All of that basically to say that my experience wearing bold, obvious makeup at a young age didn’t do anything bad to me. It didn’t make me feel like an adult, it didn’t make me feel like I was “drawing bad attention” to myself. It was something that I enjoyed, that I did for myself. Maybe that’s the key. I mean, whenever people talk about children being sexualized by virtue of wearing makeup, they don’t distinguish between whether the makeup being worn is something the child/teenager wants to do or whether it’s something that they’re being made to do. I really do feel like that’s an important difference, not because of how it appears to the outside world but because of how it feels to the individual.

I guess the thing is, every person has their own idea of what it means to wear makeup. That doesn’t stop at any age (I’m in my mid-20’s and I still have strangers giving me “the look” when I go out wearing noticeable makeup) and at any age you can’t control the way that other people react. It’s difficult, because of course you want all kids to be safe and not have to handle more than they’re capable of. It’s just that, having the experiences that I have, I’ve realized that not doing something you love or even are just curious about because of what other people might think/say/do is not a sound way of staying safe in the world. Having a clean face is in no way insurance against being hurt by mean words or violent people. I just think it’s so much better to really instill in a child the knowledge that they deserve and have a right to demand respect and safety regardless of what someone else thinks about their appearance, then let them experiment and let their experiments develop along with their confidence and abilities. Of course that goes for not wearing makeup too. Makeup shouldn’t be an obligation!

I hope they’re aren’t too many typos in my ridiculously long response. Allergy medications are not conducive to writing.

I really agree with your response to this question – particularly your second paragraph about children/teenagers wearing makeup. I started wearing makeup when I was 12 and it didn’t make me feel like an adult either. At the same time, many of the girls at my school were just not interested in makeup at all. It is how you feel.

i think it depends on what you’re trying to achieve…if you have nice skin in general & its just for everyday wear, i say college bc you don’t need it! oh if i could have my skin now that i had back in high school! If you’re trying to be glam, then i’d say depends on the occasion and late high school years. But if you have skin issues you’re trying to cover up then anytime.

I hate to see 14 and 15 year old girls look 20+ in their makeup. Whatever the makeup that teens choose to wear, I like to see them look their age.

Maturity definitely plays a part in the decision of allowing a younger girl to wear makeup. End of middle school sounds appropriate. As for me I think I began wearing lipstick and mascara at around 12. When I was around 13 mom let me incorporate eye shadow. I’ve always loved makeup even as a little girl playing with my mom’s stash at home and she never forbade me from wearing it either, that helps!

I have a seven year old daughter that already loves makeup and she has her own little stash of makeup and brushes that I allow her to play with at home under my supervision.
What I’ve decided is that I will allow her to wear blush, mascara and lip gloss starting in seventh grade and she can wear shadow, liner, etc when she’s in high school.

To be honest I was never interested in makeup when I was younger, I became artistically interested when I was 22 but before then didn’t know the difference between foundation and primer, I actually got made fun of for it, so I’m probably not the best person to give an opinion on this. I think as long as the child isn’t being extorted or made to feel that her worth is dependent on makeup then it’s okay. As long as the parent and child are happy and it’s used as a creative outlet and something that’s fun and a confidence booster instead of a crutch.

I started early with foundation, concealer, and powder (my mom insisted on Clinique foundation, but had drugstore concealer and powder), probably around 11 or 12 when I started getting acne. Didn’t wear anything else until high school at 14, and even then it was minimal unless we were doing pictures or something. Didn’t go crazy til college hehe. I was a competitive dancer so I also got to wear heavy makeup from age six on for recitals and competitions, and false eyelashes for them starting around 11.

I think that the main focus first should be on sunscreen and a good skincare regime, eating right, drinking lots of water especially during the early teens. From 13-14 a light blush and gloss. 15-17 a light BB or CC cream, then a light coat of mascara. Makeup works also as a skin protector. Very light and natural looking. 17+ I think it’s OK to go with more color or whatever. I see girls 12 years old all done up like 25+. It’s too much if you ask me.

You are assuming that is their intention. For many makeup is art. It is creativity. Not every girl wears makeup bc she feels ugly or wants to hide what she doesn’t like nor is she wearing it to be more mature. I have always been fascinated with makeup. I remember stealing my mom’s lipstick and wearing it to school in kindergarten. I remember going thru my grandma’s medicine cabinet to look at her makeup. I got into my older sister’s makeup all the time much to her frustration. It surely was not about growing up too fast. I have let my daughter play with makeup. She has worn more as she has grown. She is soon to be 14. I think we project too much on makeup and our girls. I let my daughter experiment. That is how self discovery occurs. For all I know she’ll be the next Kevin Aucoin or Pat McGrath. I don’t want to stifle that.

It depends on the young person. Maturity and range of interest is what is key. Some girls are itching to start wearing makeup at a younger age and therefore should not be discouraged, but rather encouraged gradually. I had a schedule in mind with my daughter but I always let her play with my makeup when she was younger than that starting age I had in mind. When she asked questions I answered them as best as I could, and we always went to Sephora together to “play with the colors” as she would call them.

Probably high school age, which is when I began wearing makeup. If I have a daughter one day, 14-16 (prob. 15-16 more so) is the age I’d let her if she wanted to, start wearing makeup.

I started to wear make-up at the age of 5 because I was in figure skating and dancing, and when I was 9 I joined competitive dance so I was wearing a lot more make-up more often (fake eyelashes, foundation, blush, bronzer, red lipstick, eyeshadow etc etc etc). I was probably around 10 or 11 when I started to go into my dance make-up bag and use things like concealer or lip gloss. It wasn’t until I was about 12 that I was wearing more, like eyeliner, mascara, foundation, concealer, powder, and maybe a nude/pink lipstick. I was teased big time for my acne and how pale I was so I developed a liking to make-up early on. I never really wore more than that til second year university when I made my first Sephora purchase. So honestly, make-up at any time, probably around 11 or 12. My mother was never “into” make-up but she never restricted my make-up use, she only encouraged me to use it properly (get the right shade foundation, don’t cake it on) and honestly was probably the best thing versus out right telling me that there was appropriate age to wear make-up.

When I was a teenager I remember to wear a no color mascara and lipgloss. On my early 20th I remember to wear black mascara, blush as a bronzer, eyeliner and lipgloss, I also remember I girl that worked with me saying that makeup was a addiction! Well I had to jump in because I had horrendous black eyes, although I resist to wear “really makup” so I started with 23 and got better and better….I think I got on top on makeup with 26th
After all I donΒ΄t think there is an appropriate age but certain products are clearly not necessary for a teenager for example a high coverage foundation…moderation is the word here

The desire to wear makeup should come from within and most likely it will occur during the teenage years.
Good skincare routines (particularly those with acne) need to be established first. Learning what makeup you need and how to apply these products is important too.
I started wearing makeup when I was 12 and in Year 9 at a Catholic Girls school, we were given makeup and skincare lessons. Nobody was sick on a Wednesday afternoon. The Head Nun, Sister Helen, was so horrified by the way we put on makeup during a free dress day, that she organised the 10 week course. It really helped us.

I started, very minimally, at 13-14. A little gloss one day, mascara the next day. By high school I was wearing makeup full time! In retrospect, I think that 13 may be slightly too young. Fourteen is a good age to start wearing cosmetics.

Some of you will get a kick out of this and others may be horrified — I didn’t have a particular problem with makeup or with others wearing makeup, but I never really cared enough about it to put in the effort and time (much to my mother’s dismay). When I was 41 years old (yes, 41) I looked hard in the mirror and realized I was getting older and may not be able any more to rely entirely on good skin and decent eyes to look okay, so I finally started dabbling in makeup. Still dabbling at 44 years old (haha) and probably still at beginner level as compared to regular makeup wearers, but I have to agree that makeup is fun and can also transform your attitude if you feel that you look good (even if you’re exhausted or don’t feel good). I have a much larger stash than I am worthy of (mostly eye and lippie stuff); but that means I have plenty to play with!
Anyone else out there that discovered makeup pretty late?

OMG… Reading all the replies, I feel I was born in the stone age. I remember getting a lipgloss and a pastel nail polish after i cleared my 10 th grade. After that, between studies and uni… I never even gave it a thought or bought anything except an occasional moisturiser and sunscreen, maybe sometimes a lip gloss and np. It was after uni when I got married and actually started working professionally and earning… That i started using makeup.. Bit by bit. The first time i was applied pro makeup.., was when I got married. Over the last few years, I have used makeup, made a hotch potch of makeup, applied too much … Finally got the right combo. I guess the main reason i bypassed my teens without makeup; was becoz my mom always took good care of hers and my skin( she always preferred a good skin care to makeup)… And i really didnt feel any need for makeup. Even now i apply sheer makeup… Though with time, i do experiment with colors. But my primary concern still remains a good skin care.

Great response, Christine!

What I most appreciate is how you manage to use inclusive language-not all young people (or adults) who experiment with makeup are girls. It’s easy to miss, but so appreciated.

Thoughtful responses like this will keep me reading Temptalia for years to come.

I think this is a very tough question but here goes. I think I would start my children on a good, thorough, gentle skin care habit at maybe age eight. If they were consistent with the program, I would allow a clear, light tinted lip balm at about 12. I would consider allowing a simple brown mascara at about the same age if there eyelashes were invisible, like mine. In high school, I would allow blush if needed and more but still gentle lip balm like Clinique’s translucent colored balls. Eyeshadow for night but primarily neutrals.
I think this sounds young but this is when I started about fifty years ago but with noodles guidance. Horrible results.
I think they will sneak anyway but at least I would get skin care and lip balm in early.

I have a 13 year old daughter. She always wears eyeliner (just on the top lid, whithout a wing), mascara and a bit of concealer or light bbcream to cover spots. And sometimes a bit of eyeshadow. It looks good, certanly not too much in the way she does it. She’s really doing a good job with her eyeliner!
She started wearing mascara about two years ago. I think it’s important how they do it, but they have to find their own way, as long as it’s not inappropriate for their age or the occasion, it’s fine by me.

old lady talking here. lol I hate seeing school age kids in makeup and heels. One mother let her girls wear colored contacts(no Rx) at age 9 and 10. Don’t let them grow up so fast and furious. I think its for 13 or 14 and up. I teach a class on makeup, skin care and hygiene for young ladies. If you are ready to wear it at least learn to apply correctly and with a light hand. No child needs to be in full makeup. be a kid go play!!!!

Wel, I think they should be old enough to read and write, and add subtract. So single digit years are a big no no in my book. There is so much learning to do for them that looking madeup shouldnt be on thier list. Heck they need to learn to bathe everyday! I do not support children beauty pagent. Ever.
Children are so beautiful as is. Thier freckles, thier breakouts, thier small fragile lashes. Thats what makes them children and beautiful and innocent. Covering that up isnt right. Dont you want to see thier real faces when looking back in the family albums 30 years from now?
Makeup as an art and part of growing up. Every child is going to want to be just like thier mom nd dad. Its natural. Its also a time for kids to learn not to grow up too early. Play makeup is fine, just like play kitchen or a play truck. But to expect them to makeup for school is not. If they want to and they have enough self esteem and self confident to, and old enough, by all means.
Wearing makeup will not shield them for bullying or teasing. As easy as it is to make fun of someone for pimples, its just as easy to make fun of them for wearing makeup to cover them up. Makeup shouldnt be taught as a shield but an art. And something you do for yourself, not others.

I honestly feel that 16 is the best age and that’s mildly. Unless my daughter or nieces are in dance competitions, it’s a no for me.

I was allowed to wear makeup when I was 12 and going into high school, and had previously worn it on a few special occasions and for fun at home. I was also quite mature for my age, which probably played a part in my mums decision to let me wear makeup. I mainly wore a mineral powder, eyeshadow and lipgloss but did add some blush sometime shortly after. I mainly used mineral products as my base, because mum said they were better for my skin. 2 years later I transferred to a school where wearing makeup wasn’t allowed so then very rarely wore makeup except on the occasional weekend outing. I then didn’t get into makeup again really until I was 17 when I really got interested in it, and started to be more experimental with what I wore. Im now 19 and wear makeup most days that I leave the house (i spend a lot of time at home though) although I do it for fun and am completely confident in leaving the house without makeup.

I am a middle schooler who developed an interest in makeup in sixth grade. Although many of the girls in my school started wearing foundation/concealer/mascara to conceal acne, I was the first one, and still the only in my grade, to wear bright noticeable lipstick. I think that girls AND boys should be allowed to wear makeup whenever they wish to, and are able to competently apply it- nothing that looks just ridiculous. But if I had to set an age limit, I would say ten at the earliest, and building from there.

Yes. I think a lot of young girls are too much in a hurry to grow up. Makeup should be a rite of passage. I started wearing makeup when I was 15. I’m so glad I wasn’t in a rush to grow up. Too many young girls looking like grown women before their time.

I decided to go with a natural lip gloss for when my daughter first started wanted to wear makeup. I got for her the Somaluxe Raspberry Red Lip Gloss – and she loves it!! It comes in a cute jar, and it doesnt have any chemicals in it. The red is like a tint – not too much – perfect for a new teenager.

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