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When should you buy your daughter makeup?

December 6, 2011
Pretty baby: Suri Cruise tests lipstick on her hand at the Benefit Counter, Vancouver in February of this year.

Hunting around for gifts today I came across this brand new beauty offering: non-toxic makeup for little girls, called Pure Poppet. Initially, I thought, oh how cute! I certainly know how much little girls love role-playing with makeup. I do a great deal of beauty testing in the presence of my two-year-old daughter. Tonight she said, in her baby broken English, “Mamma, what lipstick you got?” So, wouldn’t a non-toxic, play set of makeup be great?

Mmmm, it certainly got me thinking about little girls growing up too soon. I have a panic attack whenever I watch Toddlers and Tiaras. Childhood should be a playful time when looks don’t matter. There’s plenty of time to fuss about appearances.

It’s inevitable that our little ones want to role-play as mum. But perhaps dress-ups and rummaging in mummy’s makeup bag is one thing and actually giving them the real tools is another. My poppet loves clomping around in my high heels, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to buy her a pair of Dora stilettos. My two toddlers want cups of tea, glasses of wine, bras to wear and they want to drive the car, mow the lawn and use the iphone. Some of these role-playing props are fairly benign while others are obviously unsafe. So, what about makeup?

There’s definitely a difference between playing with makeup at home as opposed to toddlers actually heading out wearing makeup. The creator of Pure Poppet, mum Georga Hadach has been careful to emphasis the concept of play and dressing up when creating her product. “Pure Poppet children’s makeup is all about playing, dressing up, creating characters, having heaps of fun and doing it safely”, explains Adelaide-based Georga Holdich. Holdich tried to find safe makeup alternatives for her daughters but couldn’t find many natural, play makeup options aimed at children so she decided to create her own non-toxic kit.

Pop of colour: Pure Poppet Natural Play Makeup Kit, $39,95,

“I’m not saying children need to wear makeup but having two young daughters of my own, I understand how much they love to dress up, try on my shoes and jewellery, role play and use a bit of ‘mummy’s makeup’ every now and then at home”, she adds.

So true. When I was a little girl I had a Holly Hobbie lipstick and it was my pride and joy. When my little playmate put the lid on without winding it down and squashed it, I wailed all night long and never spoke to her again. I certainly loved my play makeup at the ripe old age of five. So how did I turn out? Well, I’ve evolved into a fairly vain, appearance-obsessed beauty editor. But, I doubt it had much to do with my Holly Hobbie lipstick.

It’s up to mums to make their own decisions. For myself and my partner we want to keep our little daughter away from wearing makeup for as long as possible. When that time comes, I think a play kit like Pure Poppet is a lovely, non-toxic alternative. Little Suri Cruise stocking up at Sephora still makes me feel uncomfortable. The Pure Poppet kit is aimed at four years and over. Plus, the emphasis is more play than pretty – you can add water and use it as face paint too.

At the right age, makeup play, doing each other’s hair and painting nails can be a memorable bonding experience for mothers and daughters. In a world where everybody wants to do everything earlier than ever, it will certainly be a challenge keeping my daughter  just a natural little girl, especially as cosmetics obsessed Gen Xer, but I’ll give it my best shot.

When my daughter becomes a teen I will hand down my beauty skills, steer her in the direction of natural products, purchase her first facial and help her experiment with makeup until she finds colours (neutrals hopefully!) and techniques that suit her. A great website for all things teen beauty is created by a Sydney-based mum. You can purchase their effective, 99.5% natural skincare online.

I will also teach her that while beauty can be a powerful tool in life and a valuable commodity, the true value of women lies in our tenacity, ability, adaptability, humour and resourcefulness.

So – all you mums with daughters – what are your thoughts? When will you give your little girl her own makeup?

  • Kate

    I will be purchasing the pure poppet makeup kit for my twins if not for any other reason than to stop them from climbing the bath, getting into my makeup cupboard and diving strait into my red lipstick.  I rarely wear makeup, only if I go out in the evenning, and even then hardly any effort goes into making up.  I don’t understand where my girls new obsession comes from.  I think they have probably seen me do my makeup only about 1/2 a dozen times.  I wear red lipstick over a natural lip liner to tone it down, it suits my dark hair.  It does not however suit my 3 and half year old girls.  I told them the lip balm that their brother made in his kindy classs that I keep in the fridge they could use, but no colour, no fun.  They love wearing my clothes, shoes, bags and “go shopping” together all frocked up.  It’s quite hillarious because as a kid I was such a tom boy, I’d rather go with Dad and check the sheep on the motor bike.  Kids will be kids and I think there is a big difference between little girls pretending to be mum (going shopping or to the races with her facinator on), and dressing her up whitenning her teeth, making her stand still on stage and telling her to be the most beautiful or she will be the looser.   If the child directs her own fun, imagination, and play I see little harm.  As oppossed to being directed and pushed by a parent or group, and creating a competative experience around being pretty.

  • I’m with Kate below. I’m pretty excited about playing with makeup with my daughter when the time comes (19mth) but she already has found my makeup and completely demolished an Estee Lauder lipstick!! As with Kate, i might wear makeup 3 times maybe 4 times in my daughter’s life time… so how does she know..  She also likes frilly dresses and bows in her hair while i wear jeans and have short spikes! 
    are some girls born with this instinct??  I wonder…