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Little Girls and Makeup: Product Picks and Safety Tips

A Little Primping Can Be a Positve Part of Creative Play


Mommyish writer Lindsay Cross caught a lot of flack – and a Good Morning America appearance – for writing an article admitting she lets her toddler wear makeup on special occasions. Over the summer, a trio of celebrity moms Katie Holmes, Angelina Jolie and Heidi Klum, were also photographed with their daughters in tow donning painted pouts, to mixed reviews.

Nay sayers and supporters are divided into two camps, the former insisting makeup invites child predators and low self-esteem. The latter group includes Cross who in defense of her daughter’s beauty routine said, “…when we get ready together, it doesn’t feel like she’s worried about becoming pretty. It feels like a little girl who wants to pretend she’s a grown up like her mama. It’s a child who wants to have her own special routine to get ready for special occasions.”

What we can all agree on is that we want what's best and safest for our little girls, right?

Cosmetics, Creativity and Community

© Melanie Mills

For Melanie Mills, playing with makeup was a childhood pastime that flourished into a successful career and business venture. Influenced by her aunts and grandmothers as a little girl, she was bit by the beauty bug early on. Mills remembers growing up watching them primp for performances in the jazz and theater world. As she got older and became a professional makeup artist, she frequently did her great grandmother’s makeup for her.

Bonding with Beauty Products

© Neeta Lind

Inviting your daughter to participate in your skincare regimen is a great opportunity to have girl time that’s more focused on learning grooming techniques and creating a self-care routine than achieving a particular beauty ideal. “My daughter cleanses, tones, moisturizes and uses sunscreen with me,” Mills says.

Sleuthing for Safety

© Kristi Marsh

Battling breast cancer transformed mom of three “Little Changes” author Kristi Marsh from a beauty products junkie to a toxic ingredient huntress. She volunteers for the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, and says her mantra these days is less on beauty and more on a core thought: Healthy, strong, smart and safe.

Kristi's Talking Tips

© Kristi Marsh

Marsh says that at 10 years old, her daughter is creative and loves exploring fashion but for now, just dabbles in Mom’s made-over makeup bag, which features products in the safe zone on the EWG Skin Deep Database.

“In a few short years when she wants to explore, I won’t view limitations as restrictions, but as guiding and educating. She will certainly push back on that, but in this new world, the best I can contribute is to teach her to be a self-advocate for her body,” she says.

When the topic of beauty products has come up, Marsh explains it to her daughter like this: “You know there is junk food, and there are junk cosmetics. We are in a silly time of the world, and even I have to learn too. When it is time, we will find the right products for you, okay?”

First Comes Finger Paints, Then Comes Fingernail Painting

© Massimo Barbieri

If you want to dip a toe into the pool of primping products with your little girl, nail polishes are a great way to do it. “Manicures and pedicures among BFF’s are giggly fun. I would encourage using a water based nail polish if they want to experiment with dashes of summer color,” says Marsh. Or try a non-toxic nail polish.

What Age Is Right? What Products Are Best?

© Melanie Mills

With a Mom whose resume includes an Emmy award for makeup artistry, a cosmetics line and a book about glamour, it’s understandable that prettifying products are a part of everyday life for Mills’ nine year-old daughter. When the topic of natural beauty comes up, Mills says she always tells her to wear sunscreen, and to enjoy her perfect skin and the freedom of not “having” to wear makeup.

“That being said, we love makeup around here! She appreciates it and notices it. She can’t wear it to school, but other than that, I let her play. She has a full makeup kit and loves to put Gleam on,” Mills says.

Melanie's Product Picks

© Courtney Carmody

When you decide the time is right, Mills recommends a kid-friendly beauty kit composed of fun glosses, cream eye shadows, blush, mascara and glitter. “It’s a personal preference to what age and extent you should limit your daughter’s makeup use. Just have fun,” she says.

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