How young is too young for your daughter to do this?

This mum never worried about her little girl digging into her lipstick and blusher. But now she has a teen who won’t leave the house without it.

When I was a teenager, I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup. At all. Ever.

In fact, not only was it forbidden, my mother seemed to become irrationally angry at the mere suggestion of it. This, of course, only made me all the more determined to buy some and wear it. The first thing you need to know about teenagers – ban it and they will only want it more.

Now that it’s my turn to be mother, I have allowed my daughter to experiment with makeup since she was quite young. I’ve let her dig into my lipsticks and perfume and blusher and ‘make up her face’ for fun.

She started to wear lipstick in her first year of high school and although, I’ll admit, some of the shades she initially chose screamed ‘red light district’, we had a chat and she seems to have found a combination that suited and complimented her features.

In that, her experimentation means she can already do something I can’t –  I just do not know how to make my eyes look amazing or apply foundation so I don’t appear to have just escaped a lunatic asylum.

As a now 14-year-old in Year 9, she wears foundation, mascara and lipstick every day. If I thought she was the only one doing this, I would intervene. But wearing makeup at her age is the norm.

Teen girls say they feel most comfortable without make-up at home, and least comfortable at friends' houses.

But I was surprised the other day when we needed to leave the house in a hurry and she refused to come until she’d “done her face”. She was adamant she couldn’t leave the house without makeup. And for the first time I started to question my loose parenting when it came to 'playing' with makeup.

Had I inadvertently allowed her to become insecure? Did she no longer believe she was pretty without what is essentially a mask upon her face?

From a survey conducted by the Renfrew Center Foundation in 2013, it has been discovered that one in five girls who have worn makeup between the ages of 8 and 18  have negative feelings about their looks when they don't wear makeup.


They report feeling self-conscious, unattractive or as if something is missing from their faces. Of the girls who wear makeup, 65 per cent started wearing it between the ages of 8 and 13 and 27 per cent hardly ever leave the house without wearing any. The places most girls feel are okay to be bare-faced are at home, the pool or beach and the gym. The least acceptable places to be bare-faced are friends' houses and school.

I've always worn foundation to cover blemishes, acne and scars. I had terrible acne as a teen, and if foundation made me feel a little less self conscious about, then I was going to wear it.

I think if wearing acne, tinted moisturiser, cover-up or whatever makes you feel a little less self conscious during your awkward years, go for it.

Experimenting with coloured eyeliner, eye shadow blush and tinted lip gloss can be a part of experimenting and discovering who you are.

Experimenting with makeup can be part of finding out who you are.

But other argument against girls in makeup of course, is that it over-sexualises children. Which unless you’re letting them plaster on makeup as if they are preparing for a beauty pageant, Honey Boo Boo style, I’m not sure I agree with.

If your daughter (or son) asks if they can slap on some of your pink lippie before you go out to lunch, is this really such a bad thing? That they want to feel pretty? Is this any different to wearing their favourite hair clip or skirt?

US image activist Michaela Angela Davis believes that perhaps it’s natural for a young girl to want to use her body for self-expression, however her biggest concern is that daughters might be pulled into adulthood too fast, saying that:

"There should be a line between [the makeup used by] a girl and a woman. Wearing too much makeup too soon can open the doors to street harassment and people thinking young girls are grown women.”

Davis not only wants makeup to be a rite of passage for her daughter, she also wishes young girls wouldn't be so quick to cover up their faces:

There's something emotional about seeing your skin as it is and getting to love it," she said. "You can never get young skin back."

Her advice to tweens who want to wear makeup as soon as possible is: "Look closely in the mirror and gaze at all the natural colors in your face; tell yourself daily how beautiful you are and realise how much your face shines by itself. You may be anxious to wear makeup early on, but what you naturally have now is what older generations are trying to get back later in life.

It’s certainly food for thought. And maybe, without any guidance, I let my own daughter start wearing it too early.

Is encouraging our girls to go makeup-free a war worth waging, or should we be picking our battles elsewhere?

So when ideally, do you believe girls should start wearing makeup? Where should they be allowed to wear it and how much?