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What Age Do Girls Start Wearing Makeup?

What do you do when your 10-year-old daughter is asking to wear makeup?

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Q: My 10-year-old daughter has suddenly become obsessed with makeup. It seems to have gone beyond “playing dress up” to wanting to “be” older.  I can’t take her shopping with me without her pointing out makeup she wants. Now she is asking for pointers on how to wear it. It is way too soon for me. How can I handle this?

A: Your daughter’s interest is normal and often starts at 9 and 10 years of age. Our children are curious, watching our every move. If you wear makeup, you have been indirectly showing her all you know about how to wear it. You have shown her when to “dress up” and when to have a more natural look by what you do. The issue now is when to start what makeup, and why.

She might have already done the pretend stage of putting on blush, lipstick and mascara when she was younger. Was it clear at that time that this was only dress-up? If so, you have already done some boundary setting with her.

Which brings us back to why she might want to wear makeup now. Is she hoping to feel more confident? Does she want someone special to notice her? Does she think it will create some difference in her relationships with her friends? What about wearing makeup will create this desired change? Are there other ways to meet her needs without wearing makeup? What will she do if the makeup doesn’t create the change she wants?

An NYU Child Study Center (NYUCSC) study reports that 73 percent of girls ages 8 to 12 act and talk like teenagers. They start experiencing teenage worries and concerns about their appearance, their confidence and their body image. Teen pressures can be influencing your daughter’s desire to wear makeup. This study emphasizes our need to listen carefully to the way we talk to our daughters. We need to avoid common stereotypes that focus on looks more than intellect and skills. We need to expose them to understanding how cars and plumbing work rather than focusing on appearance and telling them how good they look.