How Much Makeup (For a Tween)?

Updated on April 15, 2014
K.C. asks from Clifton Park, NY
29 answers

How much makeup should I allow an almost 11-year-old wear for a special occasion/fancy dress party?

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answers from Washington DC on

you're kinda creeping me out.
is this for his 'wedding'?
since you're basically corralling this little boy into becoming rupaul, and spending a fortune on his get-up, and months planning for it, why have any limits at all? plaster it on. false eyelashes, sparkle shadow, bright red glossy lipstick, the whole shebang.
i have zero issues with little boys playing dress-up or wearing make-up or being gay. but i think parents who jam kids into it are a little strange.

16 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

You know, it's one thing to let a little boy indulge in dressing up (in things you have around the house) but it's a completely different thing to buy him an expensive dress and things to do this. That's ridiculous in my opinion. I never would have bought my daughters something like that and they loved dress-up.

Now you're wanting him to wear make-up in public? Seriously? Put on the brakes mama. You're not doing him any favors.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Reading on


By the way, none for a girl or a boy. 11 is too young. But honestly, I think you are trolling this board. Happy spring break!

5 moms found this helpful

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answers from Seattle on

tricky tricky.
You tried to trick us by not reminding us that you have a 10 year old BOY.
Listen mama, if you REALLY are a mama, if you want to be supportive of your son and his cross dressing and makeup wearing, fine.
I don't know what it would be like to have a child who was disappointed in the sex he was given.
BUT, I would be speaking with my son about where his cross dressing is appropriate as well as his makeup.
I would also have him in to see a counselor.
Because really? If he is having gender identity issues then he needs to have a professional talk with him and help him navigate this.
IF, you do NOT think he is having gender identity issues and are just letting him dress up and wear makeup then I have to wonder why?
He will need to be in counseling to help deal with the bullying, taunting, and other horrible things that kids (and even some adults!) do to people that are "different" than the rest of us.
If I had an 11 year old daughter going to a party she would not be wearing makeup, so I would say that my 11 year old son wouldn't be able to either.

14 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


Sorry. No make up.

It seems like you are pushing this. REALLY HARD. You sent me links via PMs for numerous dresses for your son.

I'm concerned that you are HOPING your son wants to be a girl and encouraging him to dress like a girl. Life is already tough enough. STOP. If you want a daughter? adopt one. Dress her up.

Otherwise? I would say NO MAKE UP.

14 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

It's not appropriate for an 11 year old to wear anything other than lip balm.

Interesting how you avoid mentioning that you're talking about your son here.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Uuummmm..................none.....................he's a little boy.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

None. She's 10. Not a woman. And it's bad for your skin, anyhow. Stick to nail polish. Seriously? Makeup on a young child looks TERRIBLE.

Okay - ETA - seriously? It's a BOY? Hah. Wow. Okay, little boy's do not WEAR makeup. I don't care how progressive you want to be - ridiculous. Just say no.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Is this make-up for your son, the one that wants to wear a dress???
Please stop.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Richland on

None? My youngest will be 13 next month and hasn't asked to wear makeup. The answer would be no anyway. My older daughter didn't wear makeup until Junior ring.

Oh my god! you are talking about your boy!?? Don't, please for the love of god knock this off! You have a boy, not a girl!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

A fancy dress party?
Fancy like formal or fancy like costume?
For formal parties, boys don't wear makeup.
My husband wore cologne and a tux for our wedding.
For a costume party he can wear a full clown face or all the face paint he wants if it goes with his costume.
I hope you have him in taekwondo.
Everyone wears the same uniforms (boys and girls) and it's a good idea for everyone to know how to defend himself.

I don't like makeup for tween girls either let alone boys.
I'm not sure how many parents here have experience with cross dressing/transgender kids.
You might need some other sites to find some support.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

This is for a BOY? No. Unless it's Halloween, boys should NOT be wearing makeup.

I have four boys. One is 11 years old. He wants to play Iron Man, Spider Man, USAF (like his daddy), Hulk, Groom, etc. but has NOT asked to dress as a girl.

I'm with WW, if you want a girl. Adopt one. Don't force your son into being something he is not. I can't imagine doing this to any of my boys. If they wanted to? I would get down on their level and ask WHY.

Marie C, below, gave some wonderful advice. This is almost by Munchhausen By Proxy, you are getting attention for acquiescing to your son's "desire" to play dress up.

If this were MY son? I would tell him no more girl dress up and find a therapist to help him. I doubt very seriously your son is transgendered. I think he is doing this because he's getting vibes from you that you wanted a girl and you go ga-ga over him when he wants to dress like a girl. PLEASE STOP.

You need to get therapy for yourself as well.


5 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

My daughter is that age.
She is in middle school.
She could care less about make-up.
However, she says that other girls in her grade are wearing make-up.
But those are the girls that are... mostly trying to act like they are 15. And they are driving their Moms crazy. I know. Those Moms tell me.

I see NO reason for a girl to have to wear make-up for a party or special occasion at 11 years old. Yet girls this age may want to experiment. Its the age.
But you are the Mom. So you guide her.
NO "foundation" has to be worn at this age.
Lip gloss. That is tinted.
Is fine.
That is enough.

Wearing makeup at this age... is really not a given.

ETA: OH, this is for your son????

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I'm sorry, but I think it would be totally inappropriate for a boy to wear any sort of make-up unless a Halloween costume party.

At age 11 your son, even though you said in past he is "unique" and "feminine", I would be seriously looking into "defining" his gender, but no make-up for a party at his age.

Is he going as a girl? This would have to be terribly confusing for children his age. Unless he is in some sort of identity crisis, for gender, I would steer him toward a more masculine look until he is much older and / or he has determined that he is "gay".

I feel for you having to deal with this type of issue.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Different cultures do different things. Totally up to you. I would use wearing makeup as a benchmark in life something to look forward to for the future.

I think 16 is a great age to begin wearing makeup for special occassions. I think 12 is a great age for lightly tinted lip gloss.

In my culture and family we wear very little makeup and wait a long time to do so.

Just noticed you have a son. NO MAKEUP, NO DRESSING LIKE A GIRL. Being a kid is tough enough. I feel dupped by your question since your failed to mention it is for a boy not a girl.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

If you are talking a British "fancy dress" (costume party) I'd say buying costume makeup would be appropriate, and limited within that context.

I'm not one to stick to gender norms-- I have met known a lot of colorful people in the world, including a cisgendered man in transition as well as a bearded lady. That said, these individuals made their choices to flout society after becoming adults and having found communities of support.

I am not going to tell you IF your son should wear makeup, but I DO think you owe it to him to explain that it IS going to be upsetting for some of the kids and adults, because it is NOT an accepted part of our dominant culture. NOT to say "society rejects what it cannot understand", but to say that at 10 and 11, kids need us to give it to them straight. They WILL receive strong reactions from some people. At ten, I'm not sure kids are really ready for that sort of reaction and rejection--and I realize that I am being assumptive that your son's community will be upset with him coming in makeup, but as someone else rightfully pointed out, this even may be about another person and showing up in what would likely be 'challenging' garb and makeup would attract a lot of unwanted attention.

I think you owe a child at least that much.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

However much or however little you and the tween (regardless of sex/gender) are both comfortable with. There is no one-size-fits-all right answer.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on



2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I would go with a little lip gloss and maybe some pale blush and/or almost nude eye shadow. Clear or light brown mascara can also add a special look without making a girl look too old.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

A 10 year old? Lip gloss and nothing else.

ETA: Oh, you're the mom with the bridal dress son. If this is truly what your son wants, it's high time for him to see a counselor who specializes in gender issues. If he is trans, he's approaching the age of puberty, and you don't want to miss the window of opportunity for him to start blockers. As the mom of an FtM trans, I think you have bigger issues to confront than dress up clothes and makeup. Transition will be much easier for him, if he chooses that, if he has not gone through male puberty. The physical process of transitioning after puberty is much more involved going MtF than the other way around. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I let my girls wear some colored lip gloss and mascara. They also had some kind of glitter makeup they would brush on their cheeks and arms. Added a little bit of sparkle.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Well, I see from your profile that you have a son. This is a normal age for children (boys and girls) to be curious about adult hygiene. If you are asking about your son, I would not recommend wearing makeup to any kind of social event, because tweens can be mean & hurtful (even worse than teenagers). For any pre-teen, let them spend a couple of hours in the bathroom mirror experimenting with different makeups and applications, so they can see how it feels. If this more than curiosity, then you might want to put a call in to a counselor. Follow your instincts. We started with just compact and lip gloss until she was comfortable applying the makeup with out looking like she was made of clay. She wasn't allowed to wear it to school until 8th grade. Now, as a Senior, she hardly wears any makeup.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

At that age, for special occasions, I let my DD wear pale lip gloss and mascara- that's it! She was happy with that. Good luck!



answers from Muncie on

A bit of blush, maybe a tinted lip gloss, something light and shimmery on the eyes (maybe) and a spray of perfume.

Depends on how special is special.



answers from New York on

None! 8th grade maybe some lipstick and a bit of blush. That was the rule in this house.



answers from Washington DC on

I didn't allow my daughter to wear makeup until she was 15 (and would have applied the same rules if my boys had wanted to wear it).

I personally see no reason someone under the age of high school should be wearing makeup ... even though I was allowed to in middle school.

If you're talking costume parties ... well then that's a different story.


answers from Jacksonville on

So... she's 10, then. 5th grade, right?

Powder, lip gloss, a pale brush of blush across the cheeks. That should be plenty.

(Full disclosure: I am not a high maintenance kind of woman. I do wear make-up, and don't go out in public without it, but I don't do every bit of it every single time, and wearing mascara means I'm going on a date with my husband to something more than a movie. My daughter 12-almost 13, in 7th grade, has powder foundation, lipstick (more like colored chapstick from Clinique), mascara and some eye shadows that we bought together after she sat at a professional make up counter to let them teach her what to do.

She rarely wears any of it. Seriously. She doesn't like to bother. She has lots of friends who wear about what she does... very minimal, if at all. Mostly just powder/lip gloss. So at age 10? I don't even think it is necessary to wear ANY. But if she wants to, then I would keep it simple and minimal. Otherwise, she will look way to "mature" for what a 10 yr old should look like. In my opinion.
Not sure where everyone is getting the boy information? But if this is for a boy... NONE. Sorry. Even if he is very creative and artsy and just "wants to be me"... 10 years old is too early for all of that.



answers from New York on

I would say a little blush and lightly tinted lip gloss, some mascara. Probably not eye liner unless you put it on her, and then only over the eyes.

It's not about how much, but about how it looks when done. Stick with light colors. If you want some guidelines and tips, go to the disney website and look at some of the tweens that they do makeup on for headshots or interviews. You can tell they're wearing makeup, but it looks appropriate for the age.



answers from Las Vegas on

I would let her pick one item of make up and still use my discretion on color.

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