Preteens love to look like older girls. But is 12 too young to be wearing makeup?

Credit: Raphael Buchler

Q: My preteen wants to wear makeup, but I think she's too young. Should I make her wait?

A: No matter what your personal stand is on the issue of cosmetics, you need not issue your daughter an ultimatum over this, says Robert Walrath, Psy.D., a child psychologist in Manchester, NH. "This is an awkward age for many girls; they are beginning to feel too old to play on the jungle gym, but they are still too young to do many of the activities that teenage girls do," he explains. Rather than just deliver prohibitions, say, "I think you're too young to wear makeup outside, but we could practice putting it on at home this Saturday." Or let her organize a "makeup party" with friends to experiment with cosmetics. You might decide she can wear lipgloss on special occasions. This approach will indulge your daughter's interest and make her feel grown-up.

"Your daughter may not like your immediate decision, but by leaving the door open for possibilities and letting her experiment with makeup, you will find that eventually your child will come to agree with your decision," says Dr. Walrath.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.