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Powder Puff Girls

04/01/2014 02:58PM ● By Melissa Gulden
By Melissa Gulden

Age-Appropriate Makeup for Tweens and Teens

I remember being in eighth grade  and sneaking a little bit of makeup in the bathroom at school—I wasn’t allowed to wear any until high school. So when I was a freshman, I went crazy, and not in a good way. I had no idea what I was doing. Sometimes, as in my case, the combination of young girls and makeup leads to disaster. Tweens just don’t have the experience they need to use makeup properly.

Having taught middle school and high school, I notice that these days, the rules are quite different. Often, the celebrities young girls look to for fashion are rocking looks normally reserved for women who are much older. When you talk about 13, it is really different than 15 and 17.  Back-to-school time seems to be the fight with mom over what is and isn’t age- and school-appropriate. It’s normal for girls to want to wear makeup and take an interest in fashion in general. Even if your tween daughter has always leaned more toward “tomboy,” she may take an interest at some point. Be sure to check your school’s handbook for what is and is not allowed. Keep in mind, makeup should be appropriate to both the occasion and the age of the teen. Consider taking your daughter to a makeup class geared toward girls her age. Many department stores offer such courses, as do independent beauty consultants. Set up an appointment and go with your daughter so that you can communicate with the artist. You can also find many helpful makeup tutorials on YouTube.

1. Instead of forbidding your daughter from wearing makeup, you might want to consider allowing her to use products that will make her feel more grown up, but that aren’t super obvious. For example, a light pink lip gloss or a tinted moisturizer are good options for a tween. The new CC and BB creams offer a touch of coverage without a mask-like appearance. If she is a bit older, you might consider allowing her to use a neutral eye shadow and some mascara. That should appease her and keep you fairly comfortable. There is really no reason a 12-year-old should have on heavy eye makeup and a full face of makeup, unless she is competing or performing. 

2. Just as important as makeup application is proper skin care. Be sure your teenager (boy or girl) has a good cleanser to use day and night, as well as makeup remover pads. Keep a body acne wash in the shower and a separate cleanser on the counter for the face. Teach your teen that she must take care of her skin and that means always cleaning her face before she applies makeup, and cleansing before bed. Never go to bed with makeup on! (That goes for you, too, mom.) With all these cleansing wipes on the market, there is simply no excuse. 

3. We know beauty is derived from who you are as a person—it’s from the inside out. But instead of dreading this coming-of-age ritual, use it as an opportunity to educate your daughter on the role of beauty. And while you may have your own feelings about makeup, chances are your daughter will want to wear some. You can always give her the “makeup doesn’t make you pretty” speech, but think about things from her perspective: If all of her friends are wearing it, she may feel self-conscious going “au natural.” It’s your decision, but teenagers have a lot to worry about these days, and if a little makeup makes her feel like she can face the day, you may want to consider it.