How to navigate the makeup debate with your daughter

Lots of little girls love wearing makeup at home for fun; others want to wear it every day. Here are 5 tips for handling the makeup debate

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According to Toronto therapist, parent educator and author Sara Dimerman, it’s normal for girls to become interested in makeup by age eight or nine. What’s the attraction? “Children want to look and act older, and we’re seeing this at increasingly younger ages,” says Dimerman. She recommends girls wait until they are 12 or 13 to wear light makeup outside the house.

Parents may have mixed reactions to seeing their daughters all dolled-up. We worry that makeup will make our daughter look older than her age. On the other hand, experimenting with her “look” is a perfectly normal part of growing up.

Here are some of Dimerman’s tips for navigating the makeup debate with your daughter:

Don’t forbid it If you ban makeup altogether, chances are she’ll put it on at school. Set parameters you’re comfortable with: only at home or on special occasions, like a family wedding. Sometimes a light lip gloss or clear mascara are good compromises.

Help her learn to wear it well Start with a visit to the drugstore makeup aisle or a department store makeup counter. If there’s a helpful salesperson working, your daughter might enjoy a free tutorial. YouTube also offers endless instructional videos you can vet beforehand (your daughter may have already found them). When she’s done a good job, let her know.

Encourage good skin care Many girls going through puberty are self-conscious about blemishes; a bit of foundation or concealer might help her feel more confident. (If acne is really troublesome, consult a doctor.) An interest in makeup is also an opportunity to talk about proper skin care ­– using a gentle cleanser and removing all makeup before bed.

Challenge media messages Raise the issue of different beauty standards and how women are represented by showing her a range of diverse images. This is also a good time for a chat about self-esteem, as well as when it’s appropriate to follow her friends and when it’s better to decide some things for herself.

Set a good example If we say, “I can’t go out without my face on,” girls are likely to get the message that they too shouldn’t be seen in public without makeup.