Cosmetics & Make-Up for Teens & Preteens

Parent Q&A

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  • Assistance with cosmetics for 13yo

    (1 reply)

    My 13 yo daughter is into make up now and I'd like to bring her to someone who knows about and is willing to teach her how to apply make up and create a tasteful look. I've gone to department stores where different brands have counters but they often are just trying to sell their products so it's more general skin care stuff and not much about how to apply make up artfully.

    any suggestions? how much does this kind of thing cost?

    [moderator note] Here is past advice, including a similar question from last year:

    Youtube has videos, that might be helpful!  Maybe if you go to a wedding planning site, you can find a makeup artist that will teach your daughter.  I would guess it might be expensive to hire an actual makeup artist though.

  • Hello, my daughter is in junior high and is experimenting with make up. I'd like to take her to get some expert support from someone who can show her how to put on make up in a way that isn't too heavy and enhances her features. I'm interested in going to someone who has a focus on natural products and healthy skin. The emphasis should be more on the consult and getting some help with application and less about buying a bunch of products. Thanks for your suggestions!

    I can't recommend a particular makeup artist, but check out the brand Glossier for skin care products and minimalist makeup that enhances your features but allows your actual skin and natural beauty to show through.  I think their natural/minimalist aesthetic is perfect for young teenage girls who are interested in makeup. 

    If it were me, I would stay out of it. Junior High aged girls who are interested in makeup are experimenting; they generally aren't looking to use makeup for the same ends as an adult might be. They learn from one another, and separating your daughter's experience of makeup from those of her peers could put strain on those relationships. When my daughter (now almost 20) started playing with makeup she was interested in using it for exaggeration - drawing eyelashes on like Twiggy, wearing super-bright lipstick. She was always amazed when I wore makeup (which I do infrequently) at how little it changed my appearance.

    If you really want someone to teach her about "proper" application of makeup, consider hosting a makeover party for her and her friends. You'll likely have to pay someone for their time, but if it is a group activity then she and her friends might be excited about incorporating what they learned. Alternately, take her and a friend or two to Sephora - makeovers are free, and the artists are knowledgable about the products. 

    If you are concerned about the content of the products your daughter is using, do some research and come up with a list of brands that you are OK with her using. My daughter also wanted "natural" makeup and found it very difficult to locate products that met her criteria. Cruelty-free was everywhere, but natural, not so much. Also, keep in mind that most girls that age are using cheap drugstore makeup because it is what they can afford. You are proposing she use much more expensive products than she likely uses now. I would consider supplementing her makeup budget if she is going to have to spend 3X-5X what she pays now to purchase products.

    Health-wise, I think teaching her about healthy skin (and health precautions to use with makeup) is very important. You can do this yourself, perhaps by explaining that it is part of the more adult responsibility that comes with wearing makeup. Make sure she has cleansing, sun screening, and moisturizing products and is using them, and have consequences for not taking care of her skin - perhaps a temporary loss of makeup privileges, or something else appropriate. Also drive home the importance of getting rid of eye makeup frequently not sharing things like mascara to avoid eye infections. Teach her how to recognize symptoms of allergic reaction to makeup, and if she wears contacts have her eye doctor talk to her about precautions.

    Mostly, let her have fun. Think of garish makeup as the junior high equivalent of preschool's garish outfits. They outgrow wearing bright clashing plaids and stripes together, and eventually they learn to use makeup as enhancement.

    +1, have fun! 

    I took my daughter to Bare Minerals in the Stanford Shopping Center.  I'm sure there's one close to wherever you live.  Their product lines are very clean in terms of ingredients used.  The young woman who helped my daughter did an excellent job of likely accentuating her features in a very natural way.  You might want to go first and find a sales consultant you like.

    My daughter became interested in make up at the end of 8th grade, knowing most girls in her class would wear it for graduation activities.  The trip to Bare Minerals was a special treat.  I purchased the initial products for her.  She now uses her allowance to fill in either at Bare Minerals, or CVS.  However, when she shops at CVS, she is very careful to seek out cleaner brands.  Once she got comfortable with the Bare Minerals, I showed her the website to research products herself.

    Every now and then she over does it.  I keep silent.  She generally seems a bit uncomfortable and goes back to a light hand.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Where can teen learn to apply make-up?

Jan 2002

Some of my daughter's friends have been experimenting with make-up (not usually for school, but for parties, dances, special occasions). My daughter really wants to start playing around with it, too. I know nothing about make-up. I'd like her to get started using appropriate products, colors, and techniques. Does anyone have any ideas or resource people? People who can show a young teen how to apply make-up properly and help her select the right products? What about department store demos? Anyone have any recommendations for particular stores, people, products? By the way, my daughter is biracial and has some acne problems. Thanks, Donna

Reply to mother looking for makeup help for 14 year old. I gave my daughter Bobbi Brown's Teenage Beauty... It's a tremendous book dealing with average looking kids with braces, skin issues etc. It's given her confidence with it's great ideas about what to do for make up in all situations. The book addresses differences in skin tone as well as how to both enhance and play down facial features. Highly recommneded! Barbara

I have two separate recommendations for your daughter: if she has acne problems, seeing a dermatologist will make a huge difference as well as provide her with good tools to learn how to take care of her face. The over-the-counter acne products tend to be either over-drying or simply not that effective in my experience.

For make-up advice, the make-up pros at Sephora (cosmetic heaven at the corner of Market Street and O'Farrell St in San Francisco, right across from Virgin Megastore) will make up your daughter free of charge. We have done this a few times. It feels more professional than at a department store and there is no pressure to buy anything in the store.

Department stores are an easier option (preferably not on a Saturday when lots of teens line up for this). Just find a cosmetics counter where the colors and style selection appeal to your daughter, and ask them to make her up. At least it gives her a basis to decide what she likes and doesn't like.

Another nice source is a book by makeup pro Bobbi Brown called Teenage Beauty; it is written for teenagers and covers the basics of color selection, make up application technique, etc. On the subject of color, beware, teenagers love to experiment and the concept of subtle makeup doesn't seem to interest them one bit! Laura

You might want to look at a book called Bobbi Brown Teenage Beauty. It addresses all the skin care concerns that teens have (breakouts, etc.). It's also good because it has specific sections for teens of all ethnicities vis-a-vis makeup tricks, etc. Nancy

Try going to one of Macy's make-over's. I have a lot of adult friends who swear by them when looking for new cosmetics. I tend to have allergic reactions to most makeup and there are lines sold for that specific problem.

A lot depends on how much you are willing to spend. Macy's can be pricey. You can also go the Avon route. A good Avon lady (one not just interested in selling products but also in showing you how to use them) can come to your house and show you all the products and work with you to find the best look for your daughter. I believe Avon is in the phone book. You can call them up and tell them what you want and they can recommend one of their representatives in your area. I know Mary Kay(?) does the same thing, but I believe they are pricey as well. Pricey is alright, but you don't have to spend a fortune on makeup. Just stay away from the cheap stuff if you want to do your skin a favor.

There's also that informercial on the Victoria Jackson line where they sell you the video that shows you how to do the most for the least amount of time. I believe they carry hypoallergetic makeup as well and her line is supposed to work on anyone. I have one friend who buys nothing but this and she always looks the same, but she looks great.

For a first time, I'd go to a department store or beauty shop for a makeover so your daughter can learn the techniques for a nice classic look and steer clear of all the fad makeup styles out there. It'll be better for her self-esteem and also her skin. Marianne

Hi Donna, I would like to offer my services to you and your daughter. I am a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant. My services include skin care management and make-up tips. Since your daughter has acne, I would like to see her first work on the problem areas before working with make-up. That way, her skin is in healthy condition before applying any cosmetics. What's great about Mary Kay is that we have a new line of skin care for teenage girls that want to learn more about healthy skin. Romy

When do girls start wearing makeup?

Feb 2002

What are parents' views and experiences around pre-teen and young-teen girls wearing make-up? At what age/grade level does your family consider it okay -- for special occasions (like school dances or special functions) and/or for every-day wearing to school? What seems to be the norm in your child's social circles? Does anyone set rules around when cosmetics can be worn, how much, etc.? Help: I need comparative views!

I attached permission to wear make-up to getting her period (except lip gloss for a special occasion). I felt it was an appropriate way to mark that passage. Of course, she had experimented during sleepovers, but it completely took away the begging. When it happened, I felt it was too early, especially when a neighbor dad informed me that my daughter was wearing makeup! She wore too much for about a week and now, at nearly 15, hardly wears any, ever.

Aug 2000

Just when do girls start wearing lipstick and eye makekup? To parties? To school? We've been conservative, so far (6th grade), but interest in lipstick and makeup is rising.

My thoughts are that 6th grade is too young for lipstick. She may be mature for her age but its still too young. My daughter has to wait till she turn 16 to start with makeup and then I will teach her moderation is best. Good Luck. Margaret

As a girl, I was the recipient of a lot of hand-me-down makeup from my aunts; I used it when playing dress-up and putting on plays in my living room. By the time I was in sixth grade, a lot of the girls in my class were wearing make-up to school. The rule for me was: you can experiment at home, but don't wear it to school. So I did a lot of experimentation: green and orange striped eyeshadow, purple lipstick. Truly hideous stuff. When I was in seventh grade I was allowed to start wearing makeup to school, whatever I wanted. But by then I'd gotten the craziness out of my system, so my facial conconctions weren't too embarrassing. I think the best thing my grandmother (who raised me) did was take me to the Clinique counter, soon after I was allowed to begin wearing makeup in public, and let me have a make-over. They taught me how to really apply makeup in a way that looked natural and low-key.

I think the best thing to do is to encourage girls to experiment at home for a good long time before they are allowed to start wearing stuff out. They get to exercise their curiosity without embarrassment to either themselves or their parents (wink, wink). I know that when I look back on my sixth grade class picture, I see a lot of girls with crooked, bright blue eyelids and freaky wavy lips. And then I see myself...awkward, bad perm, crooked teeth, but compared to the painted ones I look positively lovely! :) heather