“But, honey, you’re pretty just the way you are.”
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Let’s face it: Even a parent’s sincere compliment can’t always dull the allure of lip-gloss and eye shadow. Interest in makeup tends to rise in middle school, but there’s no right or wrong age to start wearing it.
“Have an open discussion about makeup as soon as your child expresses interest,” says Cleveland Clinic Children’s pediatrician Eva Kubiczek-Love, MD. “As always, parents need to establish expectations and set limits.”
The right way to wear makeup depends on your family’s perspective and the accepted practice in your child’s community. If your daughter is involved in dance or cheer competitions, for example, makeup may be more prevalent in her social circles.
However, there are five tips that apply to any makeup wearer. According to Dr. Kubiczek-Love, parents should help their children:
- Buy safe products. “Many cosmetics, including those labeled ‘natural’ and ‘organic,’ aren’t regulated to the standards parents might expect,” she says. Shop for products with the fewest ingredients, and avoid ingredients you think are harmful. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep® database, where you can search for items by brand name or product category, and choose products based on safety rating.
- Start with less. Ease into wearing makeup. For a preteen, maybe start with lip-gloss. Over time, add powder foundation or other products. Don’t dive in with heavy lipstick and eyeliner.
- Watch for skin irritation. Reaction from cosmetics can be as mild as skin redness or as severe as hives and swelling. Most symptoms appear quickly, says Dr. Kubiczek-Love. If they do, remove the product — and don’t use it again. In case of hives or swelling, give your child an antihistamine and call the doctor. Allergic reactions appearing on your child’s face could spread to his or her airways. If your child is wheezing, has abdominal pain or is vomiting, get medical care immediately.
- Go easy on sensitive or acne-prone skin. Steer away from heavy, oil-based products — especially creams, lotions and foundations — that can aggravate acne, eczema and other sensitive skin. Use an oil-free concealer on acne. And, above all, follow tip No. 5.
- Maintain a healthy skin regimen. Skin care is important for any adolescent, especially those wearing makeup. Teach your child to:
- Wash his or her face every day with a mild cleanser.
- Avoid antibacterial soap and exfoliating agents. Harsh products can damage young skin and cause acne flare-ups.
- Remove all makeup before going to bed.
- Replace cosmetics every 6 to 12 months to minimize risk of contamination.
- Avoid sharing cosmetics, which can increase the risk of contamination and infection.
“It’s important to teach kids that makeup is meant to enhance their appearance, not change or overpower it,” says Dr. Kubiczek-Love.
With a little guidance from you and these five tips, your child can feel as attractive as you already know she is.