What is the Appropriate Age to Wear Makeup?

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Do you remember dressing up in your mom's high heels? Putting on her dress? How about wearing her red lipstick and blue eye shadow? We live in a society that influences little girls to grow up fast. For a young lady, wearing makeup is often seen as a rite of passage to becoming a woman. The question is: At what age is it appropriate to wear makeup? What is the appropriate amount of makeup and what colors are best?

There is no "right" age to start wearing makeup. Some girls begin wearing minimal makeup at age 11, such as lipstick or eye shadow. Parents of young girls display controversy on the issue. Some parents are more conservative in their views stating that kids do not get to be kids anymore. More and more young girls are being influenced by music and the media to look, dress and act a certain way. You can find just about any cosmetic product in glitter: nail polishes, lotions, lip gloss, eye makeup, and bikinis are targeting girls ages 6-12.

Some psychologist state that wearing makeup at an early age leads to increased interest from males. Some believe it is sending a message that says you are mature and possibly interested in being in a physical relationship. Makeup changes the perceptions of the face to be similar to that of a mature woman.

You may have heard the famous words, "Everyone's wearing it in school," and "It's not fair." It is important to question why she truly wants to wear makeup. If it is because everyone else is doing it or so guys will notice her, these are dangerous signals. How you feel about her wearing makeup sets a precedent for everything else she does. Allowing a young girl to wear makeup sooner than when you feel she is ready, may send the message that she can partake in other "adult-like" activities sooner than she is ready for them. It is an inevitable fact that young girls are going to want to wear makeup at some point in their life. It is essential at the onset of wearing of makeup that clear boundaries are set on what types of makeup and the amount being worn is determined. How much makeup is too much? It is best when staring out, to keep the makeup subtle.

The following tips can help in applying the various types of makeup for teens or preteens:

  • Use for under the eyes and blemishes.
  • Use a light weight wand, pencil or stick.
  • Correct undertones by using yellow or green corrector for red tones and orange for blue tones.
  • Apply with your finger or an applicator brush.

Foundation and Powder
  • Use foundation only if needed.
  • Choose a lightweight, non-oily liquid or gel stick that matches your skin tone.
  • To add color to a light skin tone, add bronzer in stick, powder, gel or liquid to temples, cheeks, jaw and a dab on the nose, where the sun would most likely tan you.
  • Use a little foundation under the chin and neck to even out the look.
  • Loose or pressed powder should match your skin type.
  • Optional: Use translucent powder for all skin tones.
  • Keep a pressed powder or oil blotting papers with you during the day to stay fresh.
Eye Shadow
  • Complement the subtle color specks in the iris of your eyes.
  • Stay with neutral beige, bisque, soft lavender, peach and brown for daytime and add pizzazz for evening.
  • Using a sponge tip brush or your finger stroke the shadow across the lid and blend out.
  • Avoid going too dark.
  • Summer colors should be bronze, gold and rust.
  • Line the eyes with your focus color and keep the lid and crease neutral.
Mascara and Brow
  • Mascara should be clear or brown.
  • Brush on and separate lashes.
  • Avoid tweezing eyebrows. Keep full and rich.
  • Product comes in powder, gel, liquid or stick.
  • Using a brush or fingers, apply to the apple of your cheek and blend with a sponge, fingers or a cotton ball.
Lipstick and Lip gloss
  • Choose shades in coral, orange, brown, peach, brown pink, beige, pink and berry.
  • Avoid reds for now.
  • Not necessary to line lips at a young age.
  • Apply lip gloss over layer of lipstick to protect coverage.

Cosmetics can't work miracles, but certain products can help keep your skin clean and looking soft. Cosmetics are defined in the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act an "art soap". The intent is for cosmetics to be applied to the human body for cleansing, beautifying, attractiveness, or altering the appearance without affecting the body's structure. Young girls need to take caution when wearing a lot of make up at this stage. Keep it simple. Keep the face as natural as possible.