A couple of us in the office today were talking about young girls and makeup. One mentioned that his daughter is thirteen and already wearing makeup, another mentioned her niece wears makeup as well and is about the same age. However, growing up, I was not allowed to wear makeup until I had graduated from high school. I'm curious if this has to do with cultural norms, is unique to my parents, or just a relative maturity thing.

So, at what age is it appropriate to begin allowing one's daughter to wear makeup?

  • Remember to think about why the child wants to wear makeup (I am assuming parents are telling children that they should wear makeup). It could be a self esteem, I feel ugly issue (which is what commercials teach) if it is this must be dealt with and discussed. Feb 2, 2012 at 14:39

4 Answers 4


Every family will need to decide the age for wearing make-up for themselves.

It seems that marketers target, younger and younger children with beauty/make-up toys and products including glamour make-up dolls, "play" make-up and glamor photo shoots for very young children, and glamor magazines for preteens.

Perhaps rather than set a precise age, parents should focus on teaching proper use of make-up from a young age long before actually wearing it. Discussing what is "artificial" verses "natural" and having general discussions about who "wears it well" vs. "too much".

Some parents may choose to allow certain types of make up at a younger age. Tinted lip gloss seems to be a good place to begin. Adding other types of make-up for "special events" or to deal with blemishes as needed or appropriate to enhance ones beauty. These are wonderful conversations and training opportunities for parents to have.

When to wear make-up may best be decided (like so many other parenting decisions) by demonstration of maturity and family preference rather than a specific age.

  • 1
    +1 This says it all to me, it's all about what you as a parent feel is right. Every child is different.
    – MichaelF
    Sep 23, 2011 at 12:21
  • Yep marie wins. not just because of the "you're the parent, you decide when it's best" statement, but for mentioning the very sticky subject of the marketing of different products.
    – monsto
    Oct 2, 2011 at 18:14

Another approach is to ask why you wouldn't allow your daughter to wear make-up, as social stigmas around make-up use are largely generational. That also means that what worked for your mother, what worked for you, and what will work for your daughter don't have to be similar at all. Make-up has a number of different varieties and applications, and these days letting a girl put cover-up on a blemish in middle-school seems almost universally approved, though you mentioned that you weren't allowed to use make-up until you were out of high school.

If she visits my wife while she's getting ready, my 3 year old daughter will often walk out of the bathroom with eyeliner, blush, and lip gloss. Aside from being adorable, it's a fun monther-daughter thing they can share at an age when my daughter often focuses on "dad stuff".

By allowing our daughter to learn about make-up as a normal part of feminine behavior, we plan to contrast my sisters' leaving the house dutifully without makeup only to dollop it on in the bathroom at school relying only on peer review in the absence of parental instruction.

In other words, there's not a right answer and each family and community has its own norms that you can accept or challenge as you see fit, but if you acknowledge that make-up will likely become a regular part of her beauty routine it may be something best modeled by and learned from you anytime she shows an interest.

  • 1
    +1 because it's really all about the attitude and social views rather than the make-up itself.
    – Sarato
    Sep 28, 2011 at 3:10

This post is advocating make-up as a tool/instrument for artistic and self-expression given situational context.

I think it is important to set boundaries about what is appropriate and what is not. Answering the question: "what are you trying to say" with the way you are presenting yourself can help start conversations about what kind of make-up is appropriate for the situation.

Kids can learn about colour, highlighting, lowlighting, outlining to draw attention to or away from something of interest through the use of make-up. There is also the opportunity to "try-on" different personas. I remember being introduced to make-up as part of a school play and wishing I could look like that all the time. However, make-up appropriate for the chorus in Pirates of Penzance (tarts) is not appropriate for school, which I teach my children is the equivalent of the workplace.

They can also learn that it takes time. If you want to wear make-up to school, all the other preparations need to be done first. Repairing works of facial art can be aggravating. What happens after swimming lessons or sports? This might encourage them to be better time managers and also to prioritize function over form.

I encourage all ages of my Girl Guides to experiment with make-up because it helps them practice their hand-eye coordination and explore different aspects of their self-identity. They are also much more forgiving when they make mistakes on themselves than when I do (i.e., "A butterfly doesn't look like that!).

So, in short, it's worthwhile to ask "what is the purpose of the make-up?" and encourage context appropriate use. By encouraging appropriate use, it gives parents/care givers the opportunity to comment and give feedback on their choice rather than support secretive, uncensored behaviour.

  • +1 for "encourage context appropriate use", that is very well said! Also the notion of school being equivalent with work, in regard to make-up. Oct 3, 2011 at 18:05

Well, My mom won't let me wear make up.... I only wear lipgloss/lip stick and mascara. I am 14 by the way:) I think it's okay, depending on how much.

12: Mascara,lipgloss 13: mascara,lipgloss,concealer 14-16: LIGHT eyeshadow,brown eyeliner, mascara lipgloss, 17 and up let them experiment!!!!!!!

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