Tweens and Makeup: How Young Is too Young?

Published in: News


Women’s Wear Daily (subscription only) and The NPD Group recently looked at the spending habits of young girls and found that tweens — girls between the ages of 8-12 — are spending $500 million a year annually on beauty products, with body sprays being the most popular items among girls of that age.


Holy crap, that’s a lot of allowance money!

“Also popular among tweens are body washes, cleansers and gels, as well
as lip products such as glosses and balms. Skin care is second to
fragrance in terms of usage among tweens, with more than 50 percent of
tweens having used skin care products, according to NPD, which added
that nearly 40 percent of tweens say they have used color cosmetics.”

I was about 13 when I started getting interested in beauty products, but Mom wouldn’t let me wear makeup until I turned 14. I didn’t get an allowance, but once when I tried to negotiate a $5 fee for cleaning my room my mom replied, “Can I start charging you for cooking your food, doing your laundry and tucking you in?” Ouch! Denied!


What say you about tweenage beauty addicts? How young is too young?

Hooray, it’s Saturday! My allergies have chilled out for a bit. Thank God! Yesterday I was sneezing every five minutes. Right now I’m just doing laundry and a little house cleaning. Methinks tonight is an indoor mall sort of night. πŸ™‚

Whatcha up to?

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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  1. Dao says:

    oh gawd, that is crazy! I remember one of my nieces has a train case full of makeup for kids and she likes to put on bright lipsticks so that she “can look like a teenager”! I managed to make her scrub that bright fuschia color off and put on a nice pink gloss for her. Once I turned my back around, guess what lil’ homegirl did? She put the bright color back on her lips!

  2. Heidi says:

    It’s normal for teenage girls to experiment with makeup. I did my share of buying wet n wild eyeliners and lipsticks, but my parents didn’t allow me to wear it outside the house until I was 15 or 16 years old. If I had a choice now, I wouldn’t want to wear as much makeup. Teen girls have it good but they don’t know it yet!

  3. Bridget says:

    I remember when I was about 12 my little cousin got this huge makeup set for her birthday. I was so mad because she is like 5 years younger than me and I didn’t even have makeup sets. The sad thing is, 12 years later she puts it on as if she was 7.hahah

    For a long time I used to play in my Grandmas bathroom and try out all her makeup. Like someone else said, I wasn’t allowed to wear it out of the house until I was 14 or so.

    When I have kids I’ll be so upset if they grow up so fast like kids do now.

  4. Fia says:

    I was younger around 5 when I first started using a powder compact only because it was one of those girly kid play things, I didn’t really started getting into the actual makeup stuff on a normal basis (which for me is going out to party or stuff like that) until I was 20. I think it’s rather sad to see middle schoolers wear makeup all out… doesn’t look right.

  5. Shiny says:

    I was so not allowed to wear makeup young or anything like that… I am amazed when I see tweens and kids in makeup or worse yet, highlighted hair.

    As for tonight, dinner and Ironman!!

  6. Erin says:

    I’m a dancer… and we all wear make-up for performances and competitions, so I started a bit younger than most, probably around age 10. But that wasn’t daily make-up, that was really just for shows and competitions. Daily make-up was more like 13.

  7. jaclyn says:

    I think I started wearing makeup when I was 14 towards the end of 8th grade. I started plucking my thick brows too. Once I was in high school I always sported the lined eyes with plum lipstick look. I didn’t go out of my realm of neutral colors until about a year ago or so. I do remember that my mom put makeup on me when I was about 5 because I was a flower girl in a wedding and then again at my 6th grade graduation ceremony. Oh man did I look funny, LOL.

    oh and to comment what Shiny said about kids with highlighted hair… When my oldest son was in kindergarten I saw quite a few girls in his class that had highlighted hair. I was like WOW! so young… But then again, I experimented with Sun-In when I was in 8th grade… but still not as young as 5-6 years old.

    What do you think about kids with highlighted hair?

    jaclyns last blog post..FOTD: Pigments….

  8. Karen says:

    Hi Dao,

    That’s crazy! I think the lil’ ones can’t always tell what looks if left to their own devices… good thing your niece has you to show her the ropes. If only she’d listen though, sigh!

  9. Karen says:

    Hi Heidi,

    You’re right… If I could go back in time I’d wear less makeup as a teenager too. I’d go out in full foundation and powder and I didn’t even need it at the time. Yowza. I used to rock the Wet & Wild too, back in the day!

  10. Karen says:

    Hi Bridget,

    Me too. I see little kids and sometimes they remind me of little versions of people.

    I’m like you – I really hope my kids (if/when I have ’em) stay kids for as long as possible.

  11. Karen says:

    Hi Fia,

    I remember those girly play makeup things for kids too. The colors, though, were basically clear with a little bit of glitter. As I got older I remember girls in jr. high (I’m talking 6th graders!) wearing full makeup!

  12. Karen says:

    Hi Shiny,

    How fun! Enjoy your night! I saw Ironman a few weeks ago and I *loved* it. Got your makeup planned yet? πŸ™‚

  13. Karen says:

    Hi Erin,

    Yeah, at 13 was when the girls around me were all wearing eyeliner, it seemed. That was like the appropriate level of makeup at my school.

    I didn’t know you were a dancer! What type of dance do you do?

  14. Karen says:

    Hi Jaclyn,

    Ahhh, plum lipstick! I used to rock the Faith Evens plum liner and the frosty lips in the 90s, LOL.

    So, the kids in your son’s class with the highlighted hair… did it look like it was on purpose? Or was it from kids being out and about in the sun? I probably would not let my kindergarten child rock the highlights. I’d tell her she’d have to get a job to support her expensive beauty habits, LOL.

  15. Sandy says:

    My 1st makeup was the Prescriptives foundation and it’s still in store. That was back when I was 13 years old. Now I got everything πŸ˜€ Mum was a model & make up artist, so she taught me too πŸ™‚

    Sandys last blog post..Rambling Sandy~

  16. Indian Girl says:

    I did not start on makeup until I was 16…and by makeup I mean only eyeliner and lip gloss. The eyeliner would be only on my lower waterline coz it traditional in India to wear it and is not considered so much as “make up”. That is all I wanted to do and all I was allowed to until I was 19 .By then I was recognized as “adult” by my parents and they didnt frown on me wearing lipstick and the occasional tinted foundation….
    I feel terrible when i see 10 year olds wearing lip gloss and blush.
    Why wont they believe us when we say…”you have your whole life to be an adult…so try and be innocent and child like for as long as possible”.
    I know the world they are exposed to is the one to be blamed…but this is something I feel deeply about. I dont know what I will do when I have kids …I know I am super young to even think about it but the world is not going to make it make it any easier for them , or the parents I guess…

    Indian Girls last blog post..The All Milani Look!! (Long Post)

  17. Bridget says:

    Oh Sandy, you are lucky!! That must have been fun having a Mom who is a make up artist!

    My Mom bought me BE when I was a senior in high school. I’m very thankful for that in many ways!

  18. EtherealPrey says:

    kids get younger and younger these days, doing stuff that you would be doing in high school. I didn’t wear make up till high school. I didn’t get an allowance so it was hard for me to get any makeup. wet and wild was my friend at the beginning before branching out to Revlon who was pricy for me at that age. I think kids these days are too spoiled, I hear them going “Mom I NEED this lipgloss” rather than saying “Mom I want this lipgloss” there’s a difference bet need and want, and kids these days don’t know that, or appreciate it. I don’t know what the rush to grow up is for anyways. I wish I was still a kid again…no bills, no commuting, no crappy job, no alarm in the morning, sigh…

  19. Karen says:

    Hi Sandy,

    That’s fantastic that you can still get your very first foundation. You’re so lucky that your mom taught you the makeup ropes!

  20. Karen says:

    Hi Indian Girl,

    I worry about that a lot, too. Sometimes I see stuff on TV and can’t believe that these shows are what kids have today (I feel like such an old fogey saying that). When I was a kit I watched family sit-coms with my parents, and the shows were pretty innocent. I watched The Cosby Show; now kids have Shot of Love 2, with Tila Tequila. Yowza!

  21. Karen says:

    Hi Ethereal Prey,

    I wish I was still a kid again too. I miss having meals arrive miraculously at dinner and having my laundry done.

  22. Glosslizard says:

    When I was really little, I hated anything that tried to push me into being a real girly girl, including baby dolls, Barbies and lip gloss (usually in the form of rings or pendants)! Then in 7th grade, I tried on my mom’s mascara. I couldn’t really see much of an effect, so I just shrugged and went to school. Then, one of the boys in my class looked at me and said “Ah, you’ve been playing monkey-do with your mom’s mascara!” I was mortified, which is probably why I didn’t try to wear makeup again until I was about 16!

    I just finished the aikido seminar, and I’m beat! I’m taking a really hot shower and going to bed! πŸ™‚

  23. christine says:

    i didnt start wearing “real makeup” (i.e. concealer, powder, foundation) until i got to college. when i was 14, i got into clinique’s 3-step, wore lip glosee, and if i was feeling fancy…i got to wear mascara. when i was 17, i got into curling my lashes and playing with neutral eyeshadow shades. now, im addicted to beauty products, but have stopped using foundation (i use tinted moisturizer), and im focusing more on skin care products/age preventative measures. for the most part, my parents were very strict about makeup…but it’s never been in my nature to wear bright colors or wear heavy makeup. im shocked at the young ages girls are starting to wear makeup…when you’re young, your skin is naturally beautiful–why not just leave it that way? LOL.

  24. Karen says:

    Hi Glosslizard,

    That boy was terribly rude! I remember getting a hair cut when I was in elementary school and having one of the boys in my class make fun of me all day. I couldn’t stop crying (it wasn’t my idea to cut my hair and I was NOT HAPPY), and my teacher told me that he was teasing me because he “thought it was pretty”. What a bunch of crap! He was just being mean.

    Anyhoo, when you jumped into makeup at 16, did you go via small steps, or did you go all out? I wore foundation, powder, eyeshadow, blush and lipstick. For some weird reason mascara and eyeliner weren’t allowed.

  25. Karen says:

    Hi Christine,

    I love tinted moisturizer, and wish it was available when I first started wearing makeup as a teenager. Do you have a favorite (mine is Laura Mercier’s). What are your other beauty product addictions?

  26. Karen B says:

    I already had some make-up around 12 I think, but I didn’t start to wear make-up regularly (for concerts with my orchestra or so) until I was 16 or so and daily after I graduated from high school (no make up allowed at school)

    Karen Bs last blog post..Icon meme

  27. Rowena says:

    I think I got my first make up item free with Mizz magazine, a frosty pink lipstick that I guarded with my life! I didn’t actually become make up obessed untill I turned 21! I believe it all started with collecting Shu Eyeshadows…sighh….

    Anyway, my cousin who is 13 has started wearing eyeliner and a bit of mascara. She’s so bad at applying it that it doesn’t even seem like an act of vanity! I remember being 16 and applying some eyeliner and her mum shouting at me for wearing it! Now she’s there buying her 13 year old cosmetics…oh how times have changed…

    I guess in our looks obsessed world tweens are ok to try a bit of make up at 13 or so? Not proper full face, just a bit of lip gloss and things…

    Rowenas last blog post..Bounce bounce

  28. Sylvie says:

    I send my nieces away everytime I’m putting on any makeup (if they are around). I don’t want them to watch me and think it’s glamourous just in case they start wanting to be like me, which they already do (they are 4 and 5 and sometimes, they badger their grandmother to put some lipstick on their lips already). I remember hating the feeling of lipstick on my lips when i was that young, it made me think that my lips were going to glue shut. Then again my aversion to makeup when I was so small probably came from the fact that some adults tried to line my eyes with liquid eyeliner for some performances and I was afraid (and they did) that they would poke me in the eye. Awful. Maybe we should all line little girls’ eyes and do a lousy job of it.

  29. Glosslizard says:

    I didn’t wear foundation or blush, and I don’t really remember how I started in. What I remember is my signature high school look with smokey, dark gray eyeshadow (which I also used for liner, there was some drugstore brand that had the most fantastic trio with a light siver, medium smoke and dark charcoal grays!) and a fuchsia lip gloss with a touch of blue that I could only find at a salon on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley! πŸ˜€

  30. Mariah says:

    I remember I got my first real makeup (not just Lip Smackers or Bonne Belle) at like, 13 or 14. I remember it was Ultima II, which was big at the time! But I remember (mostly because I was too nervous or shy to ask for anything else) that I only used really nude and neutral colors.

    I used foundation even! It wasn’t until I was like, 17 that I realized I had nice skin, and I should enjoy it, not hide it, until I was older and started to actually need foundation.

    At like, 16-18 I had a deep love affair with Garden Botanika. I owned like every product they made! Which was 90% neutral colors anyway. Great quality of products, first time I got used to using brushes, and the first time I fell in love with eyeshadow primer! (Which is very necessary for me, since I have oily eyelids.)

    Though, all this neutral, expensive products didn’t stop me from buying cheap, crap brands in bright colors and learning the hard way to apply colors. I learned how BAD creme shadows can be on me, and spent MANY days learning how to delicately apply liquid liner.

    But I think it was good, you have to get that try/fail learning time out of the way before you can be great at anything. And now I have no fear of any cosmetics or their application! πŸ˜€

    Mariahs last blog post..Finally got a book I ordered.

  31. christine says:

    right now my fav tinted moisturizer is shiseido’s tinted moisture w/ spf 20. it’s seriously the best stuff ever; sometimes i use clinique’s moisture surge sheert tint w/ spf 15. next on my list is laura mercier’s (after reading your blog!), so we’ll see how that goes! my face is sensitive so im always careful with what i put on my face.

    as for my other beauty addictions, i love murad’s AHA/BHA exfoliating cleanser, shu uemura’s glow-on blush, chanel’s aqualumier lip gloss, and MAC’s lipstick in ‘plink!’.

    πŸ™‚ hope you’re having a great weekend!

  32. Karen says:

    Hi Karen B.,

    Did you start off wearing a full face of makeup, or did you do baby steps (like, gloss, and then powder, etc.)?

    We wore makeup for concerts in band, too. It was kind of lame now that I think about it, playing flute takes half your lipstick off, LOL.

  33. Karen says:

    Hi Rowena,

    OMG! Shu shadows are like a gateway makeup drug, LOL! Once you start collecting, you can’t stop!

    If I had a daughter, I would probably let her wear gloss at 13, and that’s about it.

  34. Karen says:

    Hi Sylvie,

    Maybe when your nieces get curious as tweens/teens you’ll be able to help by steering them towards age-appropriate shades! I always wished I had an older sister or cousin to “show me the way,” so to speak, when I was a teenager.

  35. Karen says:

    Hi Glosslizard,

    For some reason eyeshadow trios make me think of high school, too. I remember all the girls having at least one in the makeup bag… my best friend had a bronzy set by Wet and Wild, LOL.

    My signature look was (surprise, surprise), pink lipstick. And pink blush. And on occasion, pink/mauve eyeshadow. I know, somebody should’ve totally stopped me.

  36. Karen says:

    Hi Mariah,

    I remember Ultima II being a very glamorous brand when I was a teenager! I couldn’t afford to buy it on my own but I had friends who had the prettiest nude colored shades from the line.

    I admire your fearlessness when it comes to makeup application. Certain things still terrify me, like very bright eyeshadows. πŸ™‚

  37. Karen says:

    Hi Christine,

    Ohhh, I’ve never tried the Shiseido version. I like their stuff so I hope that I can find a color that works for me.

    I had a great weekend, thanks! I hope you had a good one, too.

    I’m sad it’s Sunday, though… I’m not ready for the week, which, is looking like it’s going to be very, very, very, busy.

  38. kia says:

    hey karen! on youtube some 14-15 year olds have bigger makeup collections than i do with a full time job! that is just insane to me.

    my little sister is 13 and is interested in makeup.. mainly as an accessory (like most of us) but not really as an act of vanity really… she likes brightly colored nails, striped socks and sparkly gloss. i’m cool with it as long as it’s light eye shadow and gloss and not really delving into foundation and messing up her skin when it’s about to go through some crazy transitions. she’s too young! right now i feel like she’s practicing, so when she gets of age, she’ll have no prob in the makeup dept πŸ˜‰ (so it’s all about monitoring her now.)

    kias last blog post..Yummy411: Makeup and Allergies!

  39. Baby Girl says:

    Gosh, I remember Bonne Bell and any shade of purple. I see so many young girls in Sephora and MAC shopping for products that I feel are way out of their age range. While their mothers are shopping right next to them!

    Baby Girls last blog post..Java Chillers! Where???

  40. Christina says:

    I was 12. Just lipgloss, blush, mascara and powder.

  41. Cheese. says:

    I was 11, reading this book called Life in the FAT Lane one day that my brother checked out. (Funny, since it’s a really girly book about a prom queen gaining tons.)

    Anyway. In the book, I kept reading about things like eyeshadow and mascara, as well as dresses and heels. I didn’t get into the clothing part much. LOL. I pulled open my mom’s beauty drawer, and started experimenting with things like eyeshadow and lipstick. And surprisingly, I was a natural at it.

    When I was 13, I started gaining interest in mascara. I started using my mom’s mascara, which at the time was probably expired, since she never uses it. Oh my! I grew tired of always having to sneak downstairs before school to use it. So one day after school, I walked to a drugstore (my school was right next to a Walgreens. Lucky me!) and picked up Maybelline’s Define – A – Lash in waterproof. I didn’t know about the drying factor in the mascara, so I used it everyday.

    I became more and more addicted to walking into Walgreens and throwing away my allowance on things I rarely use, like blush and brow grooming kits and eyeshadows. I was spending nearly $50 every month. (It’s not a lot to you MAC and department store brand ladies, but remember, I was under the allowance.)

    One day, I woke up and looked at myself. And I looked pretty. Without ANYTHING on. I went to school bare, except for a little powder on my oily spots. Everyone said I looked different, but in a good way.

    And that’s how I started only using makeup on special occasions.

  42. Karen says:

    Hi Kia,

    That’s CRAZY! Those kids must have some big allowance. Maybe they’re keeping their rooms extra clean or something.

    Your sis is really lucky to have you to guide her on her makeup journey. Soon enough she’ll be asking to bust into your makeup stash, aww!

    I wish they could stay young forever, sigh.

  43. Karen says:

    I wish they could stay young forever, sigh.

    Hi Baby Girl,

    I’ve seen that too. It’s kinda crazy!

    I have good memories of Bonne Bell, too. Lipsmackers rule!

  44. Karen says:

    Hi Christina,

    That seems to be around the time girls get interested in makeup (I was 13).

  45. glamgirl says:

    I first started using makeup at at 11 and a half but only mascara then I moved to eyeliner at 12 in my opinion it’s fine to start wearing it at around 11-13 years of age just as long as it’s not over done maybe a fine line of eyeliner and a couple of coats of mascara should be enough some lip balm if you really need it
    but under 11 is too young

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