Letting Your Child Wear Makeup :: When to Take the Leap and What to Buy


My daughter loves makeup. She’s been intrigued by it since she was a toddler. The shiny lip gloss, the sparkly eyeshadow, and the fluffy brushes all beckoned her to unleash her creativity on her face. And why not? Makeup is a wonderful, washable, temporary way for anyone to explore their creative side.

Growing up in the 1980s and 1990s as I – and a lot of you – did, I’m sure makeup was a forbidden fruit at some point. Once you were finally allowed entrance to the cosmetics section, there often were rules. No eyeliner or mascara until you were 12 or 15 years old. Maybe you were told that the key to “good” makeup was to look as if you weren’t wearing any. (We all remember that episode of Full House, right? Thanks, Aunt Becky.) And if you did manage a pop of color, say on your eyelids, or those inexplicable colored mascaras they sold in my teen years, it should be subtle. 

These rules may have trickled down into your own makeup philosophy for your own children. While I am very much “to each their own” when it comes to other people’s parenting styles, if your child is begging for makeup for a holiday or birthday present, and you are torn on whether or not to permit it, let alone what to buy, I’m here to help.

If you are leaning towards a no-makeup childhood, I’d invite you to ask yourself why.

Is it that children wearing makeup look too old or mature? Is it that you think, possibly, your child might think they need makeup to be or feel beautiful? Are you concerned about what makeup may do to their skin? Are there other concerns that maybe are hard to name, but lie somewhere in the column “I just don’t like it?”

If this is you, maybe offer some flexibility – only allow makeup at home, for example. Especially if you are afraid your child will possibly end up looking like this:

This look is totally intentional on her part, but not something I want to take to Target

Childhood is the perfect time and opportunity to allow kids to explore their creativity in ways that aren’t permanent and are relatively harmless. If the older generation gets grumpy, just shrug and say, “kids these days, eh?” Plus, makeup is so much fun!

So…maybe you’ve thought about it a little and are willing to take the leap. Where do you start?

First, stay away, FAR AWAY, from the kid’s makeup/toy aisle selections.

These are not regulated the same way that adult cosmetics are, and have ingredients you may not like. They are also not any cheaper and are certainly not as good a quality as what you find elsewhere in the store. 

Next, go ahead and buy jumbo and multipacks of makeup removal wipes.

Both Target and Walmart have good store brand wipes that are easy to use, gentle on skin, and work wonders.

Lastly, choose carefully which makeup you buy. 

I totally get wanting some boundaries around what makeup you want your child experimenting with. By far, the most popular things for kids to want to explore are eyeshadows and lipstick or lip gloss. Most kids and tweens – even some teens – are hesitant about eyeliner and mascara. Totally understandable. Nobody wants to poke their eyeballs on accident! 

My personal favorite makeup brand is E.L.F. – you can find E.L.F. brand makeup at almost any major retailer, including Ulta and Target. Almost everything is extremely reasonably priced (think under $10), and EWG Skin Deep (a fantastic online database for cosmetic ingredients) rates nearly all their products around a two, which is a “low hazard” rating, on a scale of EWG certified being the best to 10 being the worst/high hazard.

Another favorite is ColourPop. Not only are many of their products rated only a one on the hazard scale, but they do some amazing themed color palettes, too. (One Christmas, my daughter got the Frozen Anna/Elsa-themed palette.)

Out on the town for her 10th birthday – her skills have come a long way!

Beyond that, a good makeup kit for your burgeoning makeup artist might include:

  1. A set of brushes: Anything from this adorable unicorn set to a more basic, but probably sturdier collection.

2. A face powder: E.L.F’s basic face powder is only $6 and is a great place to start.

3. An eyeshadow palette: Go for matte rainbow jewel tones or something more subtle and sparkly

4. A couple of lip glosses: Keep it simple with this lipgloss duet or go for fun with this adorable Rudolph and Clarice pairing.

5. Makeup Case: You can’t go wrong packaging it all in a Caboodle!

Now, my daughter just turned 10, and her makeup skills are fire, as the kids say, and almost always meet my childhood rules about subtlety and letting her inner beauty shine through. She still gets wild sometimes with eyeshadow palettes, but I no longer need a bucket of makeup wipes to get out the door.

What are your tips and tricks for letting your kids wear makeup? We’d love to hear them!


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Katrina Siron
Katrina is a mom of three great kids and has been married to her first love for nearly 10 years. She’s grateful to have a job that allows her the flexibility to both work from home some days and in the office others. On the surface, Katrina is pretty crunchy – she loves breastfeeding, babywearing, co-sleeping, natural birth, and homeschooling — but still loves her stroller, having her kids in their own beds at some point, her epidural was fantastic, and she’ll be sending the kids through public school. Most of all she loves the fact that we have all these choices, which makes life interesting! One of her favorite experiences was moving to Japan in 2002 to live as an adult dependent with their USMC family. It was an amazing experience, and if it weren’t for that, she probably wouldn’t ever have met my husband.


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