What Do I Do if My Daughter Wants to Start Wearing Makeup?

If your daughter wants to start wearing makeup, she'll need your guidance and direction to avoid physical and psychological damage.
What Do I Do if My Daughter Wants to Start Wearing Makeup?
Elena Sanz Martín

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz Martín.

Last update: 04 September, 2023

Throughout our children’s lives, there are many moments in which we must set limits, know how to negotiate, and understand their processes in order to guide them with respect.

One of the most common is when a daughters want to start putting on makeup. Faced with this request, fears, doubts, and confusion arise regarding how to respond.

And the fact is that, although we don’t completely agree with the idea, we don’t want to be too strict either. The truth is that the key is to find the right balance.

For this, we must take into account several factors. For example, the age of the child or the reasons why she wants to get involved in this activity.

If we approach the issue with interest, empathy, and emotional intelligence, it’ll be easier to care for and guide our daughters without generating conflict or damage to the relationship.

Why does my daughter want to start wearing makeup?

As we said, it’s key to understand where this desire comes from in order to manage it. A young girl’s reasons for wanting to put on makeup are different from those of a teenager.

For example, during childhood, it’s common for little girls to want to imitate what they see in their main reference figure: Mom. They want to identify with her, look up to her, and participate in everything she does.

So, if your daughter watches you apply makeup every morning or paint your nails in your free time, it’s natural for her to be interested in these activities. Moreover, as this is a creative, fun activity that’s full of colors and new elements, a genuine interest in these practices may arise.

In fact, according to a survey published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, many girls use makeup and cosmetics only for play purposes.

On the other hand, in the case of adolescent girls, other issues are considered. Personal image takes on great relevance in these years as a way of presenting oneself to the peer group.

Makeup is an element that helps to project a specific style and to express that personality that’s being formed or discovered. In addition, teenagers feel older, want to make the transition to the adult world, and feel freer and more independent. Through makeup, they can fulfill these goals.

What do I do if my daughter wants to start wearing makeup?

It’s normal that when your daughter asks you to use cosmetics, you get scared and have doubts: “Isn’t she too young?”, “She doesn’t need it!”, “What if it hurts her skin?”, “I’m afraid she’ll hypersexualize her image!”

These and other questions may be going round and round in your head, and it’s no wonder. For example, according to an article in Red Educa , the use of makeup and other precocious behaviors can cause a loss of childhood and install the idea that aesthetics is the most important thing, even above values.

We recommend you read: My Son Wants to Paint His Nails

For that reason, we’ll give you some guidelines and considerations that can help you decide what to do if your daughter wants to start wearing makeup.

Don’t forbid it

Forbidding isn’t usually the best educational strategy, especially if what your child’s asking for isn’t something harmful or absurd.

Your outright refusal will only make the child’s interest in makeup grow, which will generate a certain resentment toward you for not allowing it. Also, they may end up doing it on the sly with inappropriate products or practices.

Show interest in their desire

A good step to bring things closer together is to accept her interest in makeup and be open and willing to learn more and share it. Ask her what attracts her to the practice, why she wants to start wearing makeup, and what catches her attention.

If your daughter’s young, you can show her the different products and explain what they’re called and what they are used for. If she’s older, sign her up for a self-makeup course or watch her favorite makeup videos with her.

According to an article published in the Ibero-American Journal of Social and Humanistic Sciences,  this helps generate closeness and emotional connection and is a good starting point to negotiate, as she’ll understand that you’re interested in her tastes.

Negotiate and offer alternatives

However, this doesn’t mean that you should just give in and allow your daughter to wear makeup when she asks for it. As a mother, your job is to set limits, even if they cause anger or frustration in your daughter. However, you can do this by negotiating and offering alternatives.

For example, if she’s a toddler, putting on makeup for birthday parties and other special occasions are some options. She can also practice at home as a game, but make it clear that she’ll have to clean up before going out.

On the other hand, she may like to receive a doll as a gift that she can make up and paint her nails.

If your daughter is a teenager, the key is to approach it as a gradual process. That is, allow her to try certain age-appropriate products instead of flatly refusing or allowing her to put on too much makeup from the start.

Provide guidance and advice

If your daughter wants to start putting on makeup, one of the most important steps is to provide her with guidance. This means helping her buy the right products for her skin and age and informing her about some basic hygiene issues.

This will prevent her from using poor-quality cosmetics or sharing them with her friends, with all the risks that this entails.

This point shouldn’t be taken lightly, as, according to an article by the American Academy of Pediatrics, toxic ingredients have been found in many of the cosmetics marketed to teens and pre-teens.

Consider the context

At the same time, when making a decision, you need to consider the context. For example, if you have a daughter in her early teens (13 or 14 years old), it’s likely that her friends are already starting to wear makeup and she wants to do the same.

It’s not a matter of following what other parents do, but they can serve as a reference, as denying your daughter this possibility would make her feel different from her group.

In addition, you can negotiate by taking into account the environment. For example, it’s not very appropriate to go to school with makeup on (in fact, some schools even prohibit it); however, a weekend outing with friends to the mall is a more appropriate time.

Keep an open mind if your daughter wants to start wearing makeup

In short, there’s no specific age at which it’s appropriate or inappropriate for a minor to start wearing makeup. As we said, early adolescence is the time when this desire can emerge with more intensity, but each girl has her own rhythms and context.

The most important thing is to keep an open attitude about it, whether your daughter is a girl or a teenager. Dialoguing and showing interest will facilitate a rapprochement and possible negotiation.

However, remember that as an adult, you’re the one in charge of guiding and orienting and you shouldn’t be afraid to set the limits you consider necessary.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Korioth, T. (2019). Teens, tweens: Beware of cosmetics with toxic ingredients. American Academy of Pediatrics.  https://publications.aap.org/aapnews/news/14280?autologincheck=redirected
  • López, L. (2017). Hipersexualización infantil. Red Educa. https://redsocial.rededuca.net/hipersexualizacion-infantil
  • Macías Rodríguez, H. J. (2023). Entre el entretenimiento y la socialización: un acercamiento a la cultura digital adolescente a través de TikTok. RICSH Revista Iberoamericana de las Ciencias Sociales y Humanísticas12(23), 71-97.
  • Medley, E. A., Kruchten, K. E., Spratlen, M. J., Ureño, M., Cole, A., Joglekar, R., & Herbstman, J. B. (2023). Usage of Children’s Makeup and Body Products in the United States and Implications for Childhood Environmental Exposures. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health20(3), 2114.
  • Quispe, R.M., Díaz, R.J., Guerrero, S.E., & Arriola, M.C. (2017) Percepción de mujeres adolescentes sobre su corporalidad a través del vestir: rescate del pudor. Revista Paraninfo Digital, 27.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.