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When's the right age for teens to start using make-up?

With an insistent young daughter, Claire Spreadbury asks an expert when it's okay for the beauty rituals to begin

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'Despite my 'take it some days, leave it others' attitude though, both my daughters, aged 10 and seven, are very interested in looks and make-up'

'Despite my 'take it some days, leave it others' attitude though, both my daughters, aged 10 and seven, are very interested in looks and make-up'

PA

Brow and lash gel, £10, The Body Shop

Brow and lash gel, £10, The Body Shop

PA

Florence By Mills get glossed lip gloss in magnetic mills, £12, Boots

Florence By Mills get glossed lip gloss in magnetic mills, £12, Boots

PA

Wired palette, £39, Urban Decay

Wired palette, £39, Urban Decay

PA

Tea tree skin clearing facial wash, £6.50, The Body Shop

Tea tree skin clearing facial wash, £6.50, The Body Shop

PA

'Despite my 'take it some days, leave it others' attitude though, both my daughters, aged 10 and seven, are very interested in looks and make-up'

Children seem to grow up so fast. Parents have been saying this for decades. But in 2020, when kids are so grown-up they're leading the climate change movement, running a hectic social life and constantly surrounded by imagery on TV and social media, wanting to look a certain way can start seeming important at a young age.

I'm a fan of fashion and beauty but I'm also keen on slobbing around in my comfies and wearing no make-up.

Despite my 'take it some days, leave it others' attitude though, both my daughters, aged 10 and seven, are very interested in looks and make-up.

So, is it time to succumb? Should I let them have a little make-up stash of their own, or tell them to stop asking until they're teenagers?

"From the moment we first glimpse a glamorous woman carefully applying her lipstick, most of us know it's something we want to try sooner rather than later," says make-up artist and mum-of-two, Susan Fox.

"From the age of 11 or 12, most teenagers are already using gloss, concealer and mascara.

"I know every generation has gone through this, but we're now faced with kids who have better knowledge, better products, and much better skills than we ever had.

"However, I do believe make-up before the age of 12 should be reserved for Halloween and dress-up games.

"It is so important to allow our children to enjoy the freedom of childhood."

Starting out

When and if the time comes, and your children want to start wearing make-up, it's really important to talk to them. Ask them about it - what do they like about make-up and why do they want to start wearing it?

If you don't feel comfortable with them wearing anything too grown-up, you could compromise. Giving them a make-up bag containing tinted lip balm, some face and body moisturiser, and a brow and lash gel might make them incredibly happy, but will barely be noticeable to anyone else.

  • Brow and lash gel, £10, The Body Shop
  • Essence fruit kiss lip balm, £1.50, Wilko

Don't let make-up become a mask

As parents, it's important to guide our kids, while at the same time not taking away their creativity and confidence, says Fox.

"Being a make-up artist, I wanted to let my girls enjoy make-up, and when they insisted on using the black eyeliner on the inside of the eye waterline, I left them to it - only to be asked a year later why I let them out like that. Trial and error, ladies!"

Do instil body confidence in your kids whenever you can. Some might want to wear make-up because they're not happy with themselves.

"There is no doubt make-up can give confidence when a little extra is needed," notes Fox. "However, when it starts to become a mask, then it might be a good idea to have a chat and make sure there are no other issues going on."

  • Essence Bye Bye Panda Eyes Mascara, £3.50, Wilko
  • Florence By Mills get glossed lip gloss in magnetic mills, £12, Boots
  • Matte clay concealer, £7, The Body Shop

Teen-friendly make-up brands

Fox lists NYX as "a great affordable range, full of loads of colours", while "Catrice is a budget-friendly option, with super products".

She also rates Barry M (especially for foundation) and Urban Decay: "It's a bit more expensive, but their products really work well and their range is superb - it will satisfy even the most creative."

  • Wired palette, £39, Urban Decay
  • NYX Professional Makeup powder puff lip cream, £8, Boots
  • Staycation bronzer palette, £5.99, Barry M

Prioritise looking after your skin

"The Body Shop Tea Tree range has been around for many years now but it's a really fantastic product for teenage skin, as well as being very budget-friendly," says Fox.

For those able to splash the cash, she recommends Elemis' Super Food skincare range, and says the La Roche-Posay Toleriane Sensitive 3-step Routine is a very good starter kit for teenage skin.

  • Tea tree skin clearing facial wash, £6.50, The Body Shop
  • Superfood cica calm cleansing foam, £25, Elemis
  • Seaweed oil-control lotion SPF 15, £15, The Body Shop
  • La Roche-Posay toleriane 3-step system, £16.85, LookFantastic.com
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