Should I let my 12 year old wear makeup? Yes or No?

Your 12-year-old has decided that she wants to wear makeup. You have to decide if you are comfortable with this. Here is how we went about the makeup situation in our house

You need to be sure you are happy with whichever decision you make because if you agree you won’t be able to change your mind! The argument will be immense. Here are some tips to consider.
1. Do you wear makeup?
2. Does she feel left out?
3. Is it a special occasion?
4. Show her how
5. Looking after her skin

It’s a big decision. You are really deciding on whether your daughter is becoming a tween. You need to be ready for all that entails. Here’s how we went about the introduction of makeup with our daughter.

Do you wear makeup?

It may seem an obvious question but if you wear makeup on a daily basis it may be quite the challenge to convince your daughter that they can’t. My daughter was quite little when she first tried makeup.

Little girls love to experiment with lipstick and eye makeup. She was involved in a dance company and so had to wear makeup on stage. However, at such a young age I wasn’t encouraging the wearing of makeup off stage.

And if she was experimenting she certainly didn’t leave the house with it on. But as she got a little bit older – 11/12 – she wanted to wear makeup for different reasons.

I’m not a huge wearer of makeup but I do generally wear foundation and mascara, every day, and more if I’m going out to an event or dinner in the evening.

I found that my makeup was disappearing into her room, along with my brushes and other items. So we had a chat about why she wanted to wear it.

And the answer was I think the typical answer. She liked the way she looked with it on. She enjoyed experimenting, watching, and doing along with youtube, and she felt she was old enough to be allowed to wear it.

But these were her reasons and I also had to be in agreement. We had to decide if was she old enough to wear it.

This has to be an adult decision. I tried not to give in just because I didn’t want an argument. But I also knew if the answer was going to be no, then the reasons had to be valid.
The older they get the harder they are to convince you of your decision.

If you are interested, I also wrote about my top tips for teens not listening.

Does she feel left out?

No one wants their daughter to feel left out in school. School is hard enough for teens/ tweens. Much harder than when we were at school.

Girls especially are totally in the spotlight. What they are wearing, what kind of satchel they have, what kind of phone they have, the list is endless.

And so all it takes is for one girl in their class to start wearing makeup and they all then feel the pressure to conform.

But I didn’t want our daughter to feel she had to wear makeup just because everyone else was. I wanted her to be as individual as she wanted to be and not to feel she had to wear makeup just because her peer group was.

At 12 years old her skin was beautiful and with all the hormones that we knew were in the pipeline we didn’t want to aggravate it.

She was a strong-willed tween. I knew an outright ‘no’ wasn’t going to cut it, so we tried to figure out a compromise.

First things first we needed to know was makeup allowed to be worn in school. If the answer was no then that was final.

I wasn’t going to allow her to be in trouble just because she wanted to wear some lipstick. Rules in school had to be abided by. I always have advocated that if it says it in the rulebook then they need to be followed.

They are not my rules, and only our own house rules are up for discussion.
I checked and yes, although lots of girls were wearing makeup to school, it was not allowed as per the rule book.

So we agreed that if she was going somewhere on the weekend then she could wear some mascara and lip balm, but no foundation.

Another issue that arose around the same time as the makeup dilemma was my daughter wanting to get piercings. You can find that here if you are interested, should I let my daughter have a piercing?

Is it a special occasion?

Young tweens are surrounded by makeup ads, influencers, and YouTube sensations.

All telling them about the way they should look and feel. While it was ok for our daughter to be watching how-to’s and trying them out we didn’t want her to feel that she was less of a person to not want to wear them.

We didn’t want her to grow up too quickly but being dressed up and wearing makeup is what most little girls love to do. As her mom, I had to keep this in check.

It was ok to play dress up but leaving the house with 3 inches of makeup on just wasn’t happening. So although we had made the compromise about a little mascara and lippy, depending on your daughter you may be able to limit that even further.

We had also agreed that if there was a special occasion, like a family celebration that a little more could be applied, like some eye make-up.

I know this was frowned upon by other members of my family when my daughter arrived for the first time with mascara on.

It was thought I was losing the run of myself. How could I allow this? But at the end of the day, she is our child and ultimately our decision on how we parent her.

Don’t be pressurised into thinking you have made the wrong decision.

And vice versa, if cousins are wearing makeup and your daughter is not. No one knows your kid as you do, and you will always make the correct decision by them.

Show her how

If you have decided that you are going to allow makeup to be worn, you certainly don’t want her leaving the house looking like Coco the Clown or worse. So make sure she knows how to apply it properly. Sit with her if you wear make-up yourself and show her step by step.

The importance of not sticking the mascara wand in your eye! We’ve all done it and know how much it hurts like a …! And if you’re applying lippy, that less is always more. Chances are she already knows how to apply it like a pro, my daughter still laughs at how I apply my makeup so quickly, but as a busy mom, who has time to sit there so an hour – only a teenager!

If you’re not confident in showing her how there are so many how-to videos online that you can watch together. Or if funds allow, make a mother-daughter date and go to a salon for a lesson.

Looking after her skin

As I said, my daughter’s skin was still prepuberty at 11/12 but I didn’t want unremoved makeup to clog her pores.

Showing her how to apply makeup I also had to show her how to remove it. Another important point was if she’s going to be wearing makeup then it must be her own makeup.

No sharing of mine or her friends. We didn’t need any pink eye or a cold sore epidemic. I found the best solution for removal is wet wipes.

There are no lotions or bottles involved that can spill everywhere and they are relatively cheap.
Two or three wipes should have everything removed so no skin gets clogged and hopefully no mascara on your bed linen.

The decision is ultimately yours as her mother. My daughter told me that a friend of hers wasn’t allowed to wear any makeup at all and so put it on when she got to her friend’s house and took it off before she went home. The very last thing we want is our children lying to us or feeling that they can’t tell us things. I felt that a little mascara and a little lippy weren’t going to ruin her innocence or childhood. It was the initial phase of her becoming the beautiful human she is today.

Tara Cunningham

Tara Cunningham is a Mum and Graphic Designer. My children's education has always been very important to me. I feel that if you are willing to put in the time they will appreciate the effort. I hope that you find our thoughts and ideas useful and interesting.

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