When Jaime Volk’s daughter Emily, 10, began to show an interest in wearing makeup, the Oakville, Ont. mom was set against it. “It all started when Emily wanted to wear makeup and could do so at her dad’s house,” Jaime said. “Originally, this was not allowed at my place.”
Jaime was not alone in her struggle with Emily. With Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, tweens have easy access to the wealth of knowledge that today’s beauty gurus possess. Gone are the LipSmackers-and roll-on-glitter-wearing tweens of our generation. In our place are 10-, 11-, and 12-year-olds who know how to score the perfect cat eye and contour with precision.
In fact, a 2012 survey conducted on behalf of Renfrew Center Foundation, a US-based non-profit charitable organization dedicated to advancing the education, prevention, research, advocacy and treatment of eating disorders, found that 58 percent of girls between the ages of 8 and 18 wore makeup and of those girls, 65 percent started wearing makeup between the ages of 8 and 13. Another study by NPD Group, a US-based consumer research company, found that purchases of staple cosmetics like mascara, eyeliner and lipstick made by tweens nearly doubled from 2007 to 2009.
Though some parents may argue that the tween years are too early to allow a child to wear makeup, others support the change, seeing it as a rite of passage into life as a teen.
Challenged with different rules at different homes, and the easy accessibility of beauty products, Jaime changed her mind, allowing Emily to wear makeup, but with some restrictions. “Girls these days are far older than I ever was at that age. It’s tough when stores like Justice sell the makeup, kits and so on,” says Jaime. “So I do allow it in some quantity.”
If you give your tween daughter (or son) permission to wear makeup, here are a few tips to help the transition go smoothly:
DO Take Time to Talk
Whether you want it to or not, wearing makeup can alter your appearance, so it’s a good idea to have a conversation with your daughter about the concept of beauty and how wearing makeup could influence the way she’s viewed by others.
DO Share the Golden Rule
When it comes to wearing makeup less is more, especially for tweens. With relatively blemish-free skin, a little bit of mascara, BB cream and tinted lip balm can go a long way. Teach your tween that she doesn’t need much to achieve her desired look. If you don’t feel confident with the material, consult a friend or family member to show your tween the ropes. A one-on-one with a makeup artist at Sephora, MAC or even Shoppers Drug Mart is a great place to start.
With a little guidance, Jaime is now confident in Emily’s makeup-related decisions. “Since explaining to Emily that she needs to only use very little product and that she wash her face properly, it’s been fine,” says Jaime. “Emily’s respectful enough of her face not to layer it on – she’s actually very good at applying.”
DO Respect the Rules of Others
Though makeup use is allowed in her home, Jaime recognizes that this is not the norm with all of Emily’s friends and has taught her to be respectful of friends and family members who may not yet have the same freedom. “My sister has a daughter the same age as Emily and she isn’t allowed,” says Jaime. “So Emily and I have also had conversations about what’s acceptable outside of home and what isn’t.”
DO Watch for Skin Reactions
With first applications, watch for allergic reactions or even acne breakouts. Put the makeup on hold for a while or switch products if skin irritation occurs.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, Spring 2017.