With this new series, my intention is to help foster and nurture an open and profound bond between father and daughter, one that transcends the awkwardness of puberty. (I wrote about it in more detail here.)

And in that spirit, I’ve agreed that once a week I will answer – honestly – any question my husband puts to me.

So, here’s what hubby has come up with for me this week…

HubbyLast week I asked you about hair removal, and it got me to thinking more specifically about the teen years and the fact that our little girl won’t be little forever. (As I’m not a girl I’m not going to say anything twee like ‘boo’ -as I imagine you would – because let’s face it, coming from a bloke that would be plain ridiculous. But you can be sure of the fact I’m already dreading it.) Anyway – make-up. When? How? Can we prevent it until she leaves home?

MeAw, reasonable question; apart from that last bit, which is perhaps a little unrealistic (though I totally feel you!).

Drawing on my own experience, I really don’t recall at what age I began experimenting with make-up, or how it came to pass – which with hindsight, I find somewhat odd… As I mentioned last week, my mum was very strict in many ways, but I don’t remember that being the case with make-up. Perhaps I moderated my experimentation to a level of acceptability, and thus she didn’t feel the need to intervene? All I do know is, with a little direction, I could have been spared some embarrassment…

I’ve been telling you just this week about how Pixie is already captivated by my array of ablutions. She is obsessed with all manner of creams – face; lip; hand; body; even nappy cream. She isn’t fussed about its intended purpose – she Wants. It. All. And more recently, that fascination has progressed onto make-up: I now have to pretend-draw-on her eyebrows, and I allow her to use a clean powder pad to pat onto her little cheeks.

She literally climbs onto my lap and has to sit there and be involved as I apply my face each morning. Which, naturally, I try to appreciate for its memory-making virtues (and view as cute rather than irritating when I’m in a hurry to get us out the door).

With all this in mind, I see a natural progression to becoming her tutor (in due, due, due course, ie. a long way into the future; like years). Perhaps that’s naïve and fanciful, but there it is nonetheless: I imagine it to be a sacred mother-daughter bonding experience. I also hope this will allow her to gain an early insight into/understanding of what can be achieved with make-up – the good, the bad, and the downright tacky.

In many ways I suppose I wish I’d learned these things at an earlier age myself. After all, experimentation is all well and good – but in the meantime you are literally wearing your mistakes. On your face. Not cool.

I’d like to take our daughter to a department store for a browse, and spend some time explaining the different items available. Having picked out some appropriate products, I’d allow her to have the whole instore-makeover experience. (Before bringing out a mirror and wetwipes and explaining why we never let a stranger put make-up on us; thus instilling a deeper understanding of the downright tacky I mentioned earlier.)

Then we’d take a few samples home and experiment together, or if she felt a little self-conscious I’d leave her to it.

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There are so many products available these days I think it would be foolish not to provide some guidance. Not only in terms of what’s likely to work for her skin and colouring – but also as to what is and is not appropriate at a given age, and in a given situation.

For example, if our daughter is cursed with acne (and let’s face it, with us as her parents it will be a fine miracle if she isn’t), then I don’t want to deprive her of products which could help disguise those blemishes and make her feel more confident. But I certainly do not want her to be rocking tidemarks and an orange face.

Imperatively though, I am extremely conscious of the connotations of make-up and the idea of being inadvertently complicit in the sexualisation of our child.

This is of utmost importance to me, and I feel it is my job as her mum to be involved in helping our daughter to make appropriate choices in this context. (Naturally, it would be great for you to participate, only I’m not convinced she’d accept your advice on lipstick… But, by all means, go for your life.)

How young is too young for make-up? What's the right age to allow your young daughter to start experimenting with products?

When Should We Allow Our Daughter to Wear Make-Up?

To address your specific question of when we should we allow her to use make-up, that’s both simple and impossible for me to answer: when it becomes appropriate.

To respond decisively requires that we make judgements of a teenager who does not yet exist.

And I’m not prepared to do that. Couched in these terms, I don’t think you will be either. So we must….wait.

Ultimately, by making small allowances as we see fit, I hope we’ll avoid covert behaviours taking place behind our backs. As I’ve spoken about at length over the weeks, I want to foster openness and honesty.

Of course it’s daunting to discuss the prospect of our daughter starting to use make-up, and impossible to pinpoint when it may happen. But it’s necessary for us to be prepared for how we intend to handle the inevitable milestone. Executed carefully and thoughtfully, we can ensure a smooth transition that we’re all comfortable with.

Like this? You can check out more of my hubby’s ponderings (and my attempts to answer them) here.

An award-nominated blogger and author, Kate is a huge advocate of personal growth, focusing on journaling to increase positivity and facilitate mindful motherhood. With a wealth of experience in breastfeeding and CMPA, Kate is also an expert baby sleep chaser. Her writing has appeared on Mothercare, Huff Post, and BritMums.


  1. I definitely agree and will be doing the same. I think I started wearing makeup around 14 and like you could have done with some guidance. Oops! I think if they’re wanting to wear makeup then I’d rather the wear it properly. It’ll be such a sweet bonding experience too. Although I genuinely don’t want this to happen. They’re so beautiful as they are!

    • Yes! Exactly. I’m terrified of her growing up, but if it has to happen then I’d prefer to be actively involved.

      Thanks for commenting. ?

  2. My daughter is 9 and she has never asked about wearing make-up. I wouldn’t mind her experimenting at home but wouldn’t let her wear it out x

  3. Nine is too young! (For me.)

    My hubby told me is used the word ‘teen’, and actually Pixie may not be a teen when the time comes. I admitted it’s wishful thinking on my part. But that’s my hope – that she has no interest before then.

  4. Kerry Norris Reply

    It’s a sure sign of growing up. I think as long as we educate them in the best way on how to use make up, how to wear it properly, how to look after it and how to take it off then that’s the best thing to do. I’m dreading all of this when my girls get older x

  5. Kate Tunstall Reply

    Eek, that still sounds so young, doesn’t it!

    Quite! Professionals have to be a better idea than peers, though the ‘artists’ in department stores have never impressed me if I’m honest!

  6. Zena's Suitcase Reply

    I have two young girls and I think I will be allowing their curiosity to grow naturally. I don’t use make up daily, so they might not be so interested, but saying that my 4 year old daughter has already painted her nails. I suppose part of it is how you use make up. If it’s about expressing your individuality, then there is a healthy argument for using it. If it’s about appealing to the opposite sex, then maybe it’s not so healthy

    • Kate Tunstall Reply

      That’s exactly right: it’s the motivation behind it that we need to be mindful of.

      Thanks for commenting.

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