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My Tween Doesn't Need a Makeover!

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These days, girls are salon vets before they even enter elementary school. It's no wonder then that tweens insisting on wearing makeup to school are getting younger and younger. When is it OK for your daughter to begin her beauty routine? Our expert weighs in.

young girl applying make up

When it comes to beauty, times have definitely changed: 43% of 6- to 9-year-olds reportedly use lipgloss, and according to Newsweek, by the time your ten-year-old is 50, she'll have spent $300,000 on just her hair and face. Are girls getting caught up too young? Momlogic expert Dr. Cara Gardenswartz talks to us about tween beauty -- how soon is too soon, and what to say when your tween insists on wearing lipstick to school.

ML: When is a typical time for girls to start wearing makeup?
Dr. Cara: It's typical for girls to start wearing makeup around 12 or 13 years old. Speak to your tween daughter about makeup and ask her what it means to her -- why she wants to wear it. You can even play around with it together. You can offer suggestions, while being careful not to be critical. Express that the idea of makeup is not to disguise her youth or make her look older, but to show off her eyes and smile. If you listen with a keen ear, your tween may feel safe enough to voice her feelings and thoughts about becoming a woman, her appearance, and growing up.

ML: What if what she wants to wear isn't tasteful?
Dr. Cara: Children often learn from their peers about makeup. If you feel your teen is not wearing makeup tastefully, it is appropriate to tell her your concern. Let her know you care about her and want what's best for her. You can tell her how you feel and why. Be careful about judging her or her friends on their choices. Though it's important to recognize makeup as a social custom of her age group, it's also your responsibility as a mom to set limits.

ML: What if everyone in my daughter's group is wearing it?
Dr. Cara: It will be challenging for her to follow the rules of no makeup if everyone else is wearing it already. Perhaps you should ask yourself why your rules are different, and if you have a good answer, stick with it. However, if it is because you have mixed feelings about your child growing up, then understand that your views are influenced by your wishes -- not by what is best for her. Your daughter will likely do what she wants to do (i.e., putting makeup on at school) if you are too strict.

ML: What about waxing/shaving/deodorant?
Dr. Cara: Bring up the issue of grooming with your tween because you are not only guiding her around the "how to's" but also letting her know that she can turn to you for anything, and you will accept and help her. If your child is on the young side of shaving age but has more body hair than her peers, listen for cues that she is self-conscious. If she is not, there is no need to highlight what makes you feel uncomfortable.

ML: How do you start the conversation?
Dr. Cara: Open-ended questions and topics about how each of you feel about appearance and self-esteem will give her an opportunity to bring up grooming, if it is on her mind. This kind of conversation can also model your own comfort in talking about your body to her and decrease bodily shame.

ML: What if my daughter has an issue like body odor?
Dr. Cara: Let her know that you notice that as girls get older, their bodies go through changes, including their smells. You can give her options that you yourself use, like deodorant, now that she is "old" enough. This is a non-shaming way of presenting a sensitive topic.

6 comments so far | Post a comment now
MelissaB June 1, 2009, 5:50 PM

$300,000 over 50 years is about $115 a week, every week of your life. Bump it to a more likely starting age of 15, you get $164 A WEEK! I don’t think so. That’s just ridiculous! I spend about $15 for a haircut maybe 4 times a year. Maybe $25 for makeup 4 times a year. That’s it. Anything else is just silly.

ame i. June 1, 2009, 8:17 PM

My 9 year old has had her nails polished a couple of times while I was at the salon. My 11 year old hasn’t had on nail polish since she was an infant and I painted her toes.
I have to drag them to the hair salon 3-4 times a year for a trim, although I’m in the salon every 6-8 weeks for the complete cover the gray/slap on some highlighs/cut.
Girls like the ones mentioned are only the products of their mothers.

messymom June 1, 2009, 8:34 PM

I’m against makeup, but it makes sense that this is more of my issue (if i prevent my daughter from wearing it) than hers…. i guess i just don’t want her to overdue it

jennifer June 1, 2009, 11:17 PM

great article, useful info for me and my tween step-daughter!

jane June 21, 2009, 10:52 AM

Much of this is common sense but when it comes to mothers and daughters, how easily that goes out the window. Thanks for the reminder of how to think and talk logically rather than react emotionally.

anonymus August 6, 2009, 3:51 AM

well i had a single dad only, i showed him how much are pit i had once without saying anything and he handed me a rasor!

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