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A young woman evaluates her makeup in a mirror

At What Age Should a Girl Start Wearing Makeup?

By Kathie FitzPatrick

Yes, I have a long history with wearing makeup, and applying makeup on others as a both a beauty consultant and makeup artist for TV. I have made up many a face before they stepped in front of the camera both in the studio and on-location. I was also an on camera talent for a magazine show called “California Tonight,” back in the 1980’s-early 90’s. Unlike some of my broadcast media colleagues, I did my own makeup and wore my own clothes.

Like many makeup artists and beauty consultants that were posed with this question, I reflected on my own life and personal experience as a young girl who began to be fascinated with makeup at that young tender age. Something magical happens when a girl starts looking forward to womanhood!

To wear makeup or not to wear makeup, that is the question!

I came from a very good home and had a good relationship with both my Dad and my Mom, but quite frankly, I don’t remember asking about wearing makeup. From the early years, I loved to dress in beautiful and classy clothes, and looked quite a bit older than my age. It was not long before I wanted to add the finishing touches with the finished look of makeup. In my case, at age 16 I worked part time in a Merle Norman skin care studio downtown in Walnut Creek, CA. I was trained by the owner to do facials and makeup for customers. But I’ll admit, in my case the soft make up began appearing on my face at about the age of 12.

It looked spectacular on me. However,  because I was 5’4″ and had a 36-24-36 figure…it made me look like a grown adult woman.

At one point when my family moved as we had just bought a new home, I was suddenly the new kid in the 6th grade class. After the teacher introduced me to the class, a student approached me…a boy.

I’m not sure I heard what she said.  Are you the new student, or the new teacher?”

Kathie with horse Rex at the age of 15

That was at the age of 12. Well, all through high school I looked more like a 25 year old college student or young professional. Even the teachers kidded me about it.” This had both good points and bad points. The boys in my high school seemed to look like babies in comparison. I did tend to attract the older college aged boys. Once again, this had both good points and bad points. It was especially comical when I went to work after high school at the age of 17 in an all men’s college, St. Mary’s College in Moraga, CA.

 Boy’s were cutting classes in school to try to come find me on my breaks. Young priests, one in particular, were wanting to leave the priesthood to marry me. I wound up quitting the job after a few months as the young men and students chasing me around on the job was getting to be far too ridiculous.

Episode in Hollywood

When I was working with a Writer/Editor from “Fair and Frantic Hollywood,” at the age of 16, a scout from the Beatles came to recruit me to come to a “small intimate party” after the Hollywood Bowl show to join them personally at their secretly guarded hotel room. Circumstances had me in Southern California that week, but I knew better than to blindly accept the invitation.

“Which one do you like the best?” the man asked me with an impish gleam in his eye. We had business planned in my hometown area of San Francisco the following week. However, it fell through as I was now known as the “girl who would not come to the party.” I found out later that their Manager, Brian Epstein, would not be joining them until the following Monday in San Francisco. They wanted to have their party before then that Friday night. I already had a ticket to go home that Friday, so I did.

I was somehow found to be more than just attractive to them, but it was ruining our potential business arrangement

 I have to admit, this may not have happened if I had been just wearing lip gloss. I was pretty “glam” for a girl who was just a teenager. I looked about 25, but was 16. They sure didn’t bother to ask.  John Lennon didn’t seem to care. They loved my literary and artistic work about them, but they forgot all about it once they saw me. The writer who was promoting me, and was writing about them and their travels for the Hollywood magazine, got fired because he failed to deliver me to the party. The project fell apart, basically.

It was the BW picture on the left in my Author’s profile that created the fascination with the “famous 4” and spurred the “invitation.”

This is one danger I will admit to: a young girl wearing a full face of makeup can attract older men, but she may not be able to handle it. Yes, it can even be dangerous in some cases. Now today we have men snatching girls in malls and other public places and then forcing them into human trafficking situations. What a nightmare!

In my case, I guess I will always wonder what would have happened if I had gone to the party. This was the same venue in which Paul McCartney actually met his wife, Linda. Personally, I can’t imagine me fitting into that lifestyle and value system, however. The meeting would have been super-charged at the very least. But I wasn’t sure I was ready for what they had in mind.

Back to the subject of young women deciding when to wear makeup. This is sometimes an emotional decision for parents as well.

From a Dad’s point of view:

“When your tween daughter asks if she can wear makeup, how do you respond? You might remember her playing and experimenting with makeup when she was four or five. That was cute. This is not.

You may feel that your daughter is too young to wear makeup. But then again, you may not want to instill a zero-makeup rule because she might just go behind your back and wear it anyway. What’s a parent to do?”-Gunnar Monson

Young Girls Talk

These comments were gathered from an on-line poll conducted by a cosmetic adviser from girls from the tween and teenage range:

“Don’t wear makeup because everyone else does if you really don’t want to wear it, don’t! If you’re interested in wearing it, do it. But it isn’t something you should be worried about.”

* * * *

“My opinion is that people should start wearing makeup when they feel ready to do so. and you are ready if you will take care of your makeup, clean your face properly and use it responsibly. Personally I started wearing makeup when I was about 10/11 and I turned out okay.”

* * * *

“i`m 9 and i don`t have makeup but i say age 10 cause next year i`m turning 10 but the only part of makeup i`m only allowed to wear is lipstick”

* * * *

My older sister started wearing mascara and pencil eyeliner when she was 13 in the summer after seventh grade. I am 13 and I use a hint of mascara because my mom is very strict. My dad honestly doesn’t care. (One time my sister did my makeup and when he got home he just giggled and left) to anyway my mom caught me when I began to cry and she yelled at me. All my friends are 12 and wear mascara. AND I REALLY WANT TO WEAR MASCARA BUT IM SHIRT FPR NY AGE. (4’5)And I really want to tell my mom that I wanna wear mascara. ?

* * * *

How a girl handles the lip color creates the ultimate effect.

“I am 16 and have only worn makeup to proper events, such as weddings or large family gatherings. Yesterday I asked my mom if I could wear makeup on a daily basis and she replied with a strict no, saying how it was apparently looked down upon in tradition for someone as young as me to be wearing it (she’s Pakistani, but I was born and raised in America). I’m unsure as to what I should do, since I don’t want to wait till my thirties to actually have the freedom to wear it everyday.”

Reply from another teen:

“Maybe trying asking again in a few months and explain that everyone in high school in America wears it. Worse case scenario, you’ll be 18 soon and can start wearing it in college!”

“I am going into middle school this year. My mom doesn’t want me wearing makeup quite yet. Should I convince her or go by her terms?”


“I would go by your mom’s terms, but if you really want to wear makeup then you should ask if you can get tainted lip balm. Good luck with 6th grade!!!”

* * * *

“I’m almost twelve and I’m in middle school now. I have the feeling I need to wear makeup but I don’t know how to ask my mom for some and I don’t have a clue on how to do anything besides mascara and 1 color eye shadow. (And lipstick/gloss of course) what do I do?”


“Well I`m gonna be 14 soon and i dont know how to do anything but lipstick xD

If i were you i would just ask your mom, what`s the worst that can happen?”

* * * *

 (Special thanks to for a sampling of on-line comments on this topic)

Survey from the UK

According to a recent survey conducted by a fashion site in the UK, 89% of women think girls should be at least 14 years old before wearing foundation, 13 years before using eye make-up and 12-and-a-half before wearing lip-gloss. Girls younger than that should not be wearing makeup at all.

Sampling of comments from

“I think that the minimum age varies based on the product in question.

My dad hated makeup, so for me it was a process. I think my time schedule went something like this:

Flavored lip balm (Lip Smackers) – first tube of my own at about 10 years old.

Glossy gloss, sometimes very slightly tinted – about 11

Slight shimmer, don’t-let-your-dad-catch-you-with-that-on beige eye shadow: 12.5

Barely there blush & mascara: 13

Started high school at 14, and I started wearing soft peach and light pinks with my beiges.

I was almost 16 when I got my first makeup palette for Christmas and that’s when I started wearing makeup that my dad could actually see.”

Eyeliner the last

Eyeliner and eye makeup is usually the last

“Eyeliner was the last product, and I started wearing that regularly at almost 17.

But nowadays, makeup is far more pigmented and long-lasting than it was 35 years ago! So, it wasn’t until I was almost 16 that I “wore makeup” by today’s standards.

If I’d have had a daughter, I think I would have allowed products in stages, too.

I hope this has been helpful, Dannah. :)”

This comment came from a student from China:

sz_young-girl-applying-mascara-to-her-eyelashes_f1tp67wo-1.jpg May 30, 2019
Young Girl Applying Some Mascara To Her Eyelashes

“In China, most girls make up in junior high school.

Junior high school, the girl’s eyes, and eyebrows are beginning to grow, began to have the concept of beauty. At the same time, I began to know about love, so I put more emphasis on beauty. For this age of makeup, I suggest learning from song zuer.

Song zuer looks pure, temperament is lively, her dress is taken and makeup look suits young girl to learn most, do not only like her good-looking and fashionable beautiful girl ~

Said earlier that she looks pure, but song zuer is not the type of noodle soup, her bright big eyes let her also show a clever spirit. After observing song zuer’s daily and more formal makeup, I found that her makeup focuses on the eyebrows and eyes, and she likes to use red lips to light up the whole makeup.

Her eyebrows were always raised or swordsman, which distinguished them from flat ones. Song zuer delicate three-dimensional facial features, eyebrows will not appear too abrupt or too mature, will only make her look a little more retro temperament like the previous port star has no.

Sword eyebrow need not say, the eyebrow is the switch that style changes really, see eyebrow end rises a bit, song zuer becomes handsome little elder sister from a lovely girl. Fairies can also try different styles of eyebrow shapes and perhaps find the most suitable for their own.

Still, have her eye makeup to also be very good-looking, song zuer favors orange pink, apricot pink very much this kind of more lively, the color number of vigor.”

For more formal occasions, put a little pearl on your eye shadow to create a gorgeous look

How old do girls start to wear makeup? Don’t say you’re 13.

Song zuer’s eyes are big and round, so her eyeliner is thin and long. The eyelash will naturally follow the root of her eyelash and make eye movements. It is very simple but well decorated.

Labial makeup part, because her labial form is smaller, a labial peak is more apparent, it is the cherry small mouth that we say, so tu Xiaogang is very appropriate, won’t exaggerate completely.”

What is the Motivation for Wearing  Make up?

A big element seems to be: What is the motivation for wearing the make up? Here’s an interesting response to that question:

More Comments

“I think it depends on what makes the parent and the child comfortable and why the child is wearing the makeup.

The “Why” matters

If the said child is wearing the makeup because they have a passion for doing makeup, and want to learn it as an art form, then that’s great! I’d say around the middle school years for more intense and actual makeup looks, with foundation and all that jazz. If they’re just having fun and playing around with it, then 7. If they’re too young, they might accidentally hurt themselves (makeup in their eyes, mouth, etc.)”

“If they are doing it because of bullying/insecurity, then no age is appropriate. Makeup should be worn only when you have learned to love how you look with and without it. Letting the child hide from their insecurities will only make the makeup become a crutch and is only a temporary fix- it will eventually deepen the insecurity.”

“If they are using it to cover a blemish, like acne, then again- no age is appropriate. It will only worsen the problem by layering foundation and crap on top of the already infected place, and will probably spread it. Instead, teach them proper skincare/seek professional treatment.”

“If it is for a formal event, then 13 at least. And only if the child wants to wear the makeup. Anything younger and such a young child should not be expected to wear makeup. If it’s required, like for a dance recital, then 5 at youngest, anything younger and they shouldn’t be needing to wear makeup, as I said before. And- keep it minimal. Maybe some lipstick or eye shadow, but not anything that could irritate their sensitive skin.”

.” * * *

“DO. NOT. PUT. MAKEUP. ON. TODDLERS. They are literal babies. At that point, their skin is more delicate and should not have that stuff put on it. I do not care if it is for a pageant; children shouldn’t be doing those anyways, it causes self-esteem issues and ruins their childhood. It’s for their own (physical and emotional) safety.”

* * * *

“All in all, I think what matters more is how safe it is for the child and how comfortable the child themself is with it. If the child is the one who wants makeup, just make sure it’s safe (physically and mentally) how they are using it. If it is the parent who wants makeup on the child, THE. CHILD. MUST. AGREE.

Thank you for reading :).”

More Reasons Why Young Girls Like Make up

Girl Applying Red Lip Gloss

In researching this, I discovered that there is a fairly huge controversy surrounding this topic. Here are a few more opinions:

“Some parents do not fuss too much about their daughters wearing makeup, whereas some parents don’t like it when their little girls want to wear makeup.

According to psychotherapists, makeup signifies a young girl’s eagerness to look attractive. Most mothers think that their daughters are getting mature and want to impress the boys by wearing makeup.

Start with lip gloss

Most mothers agree that they would allow their daughters to wear light makeup such as lip gloss when they are in 5th or 6th grade. Between ages 10 to 12, applying lip gloss is fine.

Foundation and compact

Young girl with compact

When the girl is 13 and 14 years old, her mother should allow her to apply foundation, powder or compact occasionally.

(Special  thanks to: Sunita Naik, at SunitaNaik:// See: http://Sunita Naik: for a sampling of comments.

You can see here from the variety of lively comments, this a common subject with both tween and teenage girls.


“At what age should a girl start wearing makeup?” has turned out to be an emotional and controversial topic. It is best decided by the girl and her parent(s). Many Mom’s agree that it’s best to start out between the ages of 9 and 11 with soft pink lip gloss, and age 12 and over with soft versions of eyebrow pencil, foundation, and lipstick. However, this is an individual choice. Some girls may not be interested in make up at all.  Most agree that high school years are really the ideal time frame for maturity for a young woman to wear basic makeup, and the girl should seek the advice of a trained  makeup consultant for her best colors and how to properly apply and wear the makeup.

For additional viewpoints on this topic go to:

Comments from Parents Magazine:

Beautician doing professional make up with a young woman

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