Fresh Look, Fresh Take: Exploring Makeup With Your Teenager

May 31, 2019

Fresh Look, Fresh Take:

Exploring Makeup With Your Teenager

By Jennifer Axley


With 58% of girls between 8-18 wearing makeup - and 65% of those girls starting with makeup between the ages of 8-13 - the age at which parents are talking to their kids about their appearance is getting younger and younger. Many parents are letting their kids wear a variety of makeup products from as young as 3 years old; at the same time, some struggle to understand how to set good boundaries on their child’s wardrobe. As parents, it’s our job to be aware that there are predators out there that may read into the way our teens/kids present themselves, so in the same way as we set rules and boundaries to protect our children from online dangers, we may need some boundaries around their physical presentation. With that in mind, however, it’s also our role to ensure our children have good, healthy relationships with all the aspects of their appearance. It’s time to look at the makeup and beauty industry through a fresh new lens, to provide the best advice for our children.

What Appearance Means

Physical appearance is a natural way for teenagers to express themselves as they grow up, a way to tell others something about themselves just by looks alone. In fact, over half of teenagers consider appearance a major part of their personal identity. Adjusted appearances can help children explore looks that may be more gender-coded, and parents should understand and allow that kind of expression.

The Makeup And Beauty Trap

The beauty industry in Australia is valued near $6.5 billion, and even though it’s important for your children to feel that they can express themselves, it’s also important to talk with your kids about how advertising and social media may be pressuring them to look a certain way. They’re old enough to learn a bit about how beauty standards can put extra pressure on working women, for example, or how certain adults might have inappropriate reactions towards an outfit your kid sees as cool.

Photo by Marcelo Moreira from Pexels

Solidify the Basics

Since your teenager’s entering the hormone years, it can help to pair the makeup topic with a discussion on creating a skin care regimen. Reassure them that it’s about being healthy, because children with skin problems like acne can be extra-sensitive to judgement of their looks. Up to 85% of people between the ages of 12-24 experience acne problems at some point, so it's important to help your child treat it, while making sure they understand it's a natural part of growing up. However, if the acne is severe, persistent and/or causing significant self-esteem issues, it’s always wise to seek professional advice from your GP.

Allow Safe Experimentation

When it comes down to it, makeup is a pretty low-risk place for your child to experiment with their looks. It’s a cheap, non-permanent thing that can make them feel special without serious repercussions. So draw some basic lines - for example, you may not want your twelve-year-old in full foundation - but then let them have some fun with it. What’s going to happen if your daughter wants to wear that purple lipstick out, or if your son wants to try a bit of eyeliner? The most likely result is that your kid will be happy.


Exploring the boundaries of makeup with your teenager doesn't have cause friction, it can be a fun activity for you both. It’s a chance for everyone to learn something new about the world’s expectations, and if they don't like it, there’s always makeup remover.


Author bio: Jennifer left her corporate finance job to pursue her true passions of writing and being a good mother. She now works from home, teaching her kids and offering her knowledge to readers on a range of topics.

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