Sunday, 29 September 2019

Should teenage girls wear makeup?

I try to read a variety of media, and while the Times and Financial Times are mainstays, I also read the Guardian regularly, and from time to time reactivate a free trial of the Telegraph. In the latter, I recently read Annabel Jones' 'Should teenage girls wear makeup? I think it's fine - and here's why' - and I tend to agree with her.

I started playing with makeup in the pre-teen years: when I was 11 or 12.

Puberty is starting younger and younger - I started my periods a month after my twelfth birthday and developed acne at the age of 10. This is also now happening to even younger girls, due to environmental factors such as diet. So if you do have acne, it's natural that your self-confidence would feel dented - and even though I do see the argument of letting the skin get some air (and even as an adult ensure I have at least two makeup-free days a week), I also think a bit of concealer does more good than harm (especially if, like I was, you are also bullied). This is one of the first points made by the Telegraph's beauty editor also.

I would probably just go for a lighter mineral concealer, rather than the cheap stick foundations and concealers that I used to slather on, which were quite thick and cakey. ELF does good affordable ones that will cover blemishes while allowing skin to breathe.

I also used to love messing around with nail varnishes with my cousin, and would argue that such experiences are good for bonding - though this is also an argument for cheap clothes and nail polishes, as well as plenty of nail varnish remover, as chances are it will go everywhere! I didn't have a particular favourite brand, but used to go for the classics that pervade the aisles at Boots and Superdrug - Maybelline, 17, and so on. I was mainly about the colours, rather than brands, and especially all about the glitter, for which Barry M is a good choice. It also teaches you about science - namely, not to use nail varnish remover to clean up accidentally spilled nail polish from the top of a plastic TV casing...

Experimenting with eyeshadows - especially pink glittery ones - was another favourite pursuit, and as well as being just plain fun, helps you to see what colours suit you so that you can develop a sophisticated style long-term. I wouldn't be so keen on pink glittery eyeshadows now, but would go for dark purples, blues, browns, metallics or even greens to highlight my grey eyes.

This argument is even more persuasive when it comes to foundation. While young skin doesn't specifically need it, there are plenty of lighter foundations available, as well as tinted moisturisers, and even BB creams, which didn't exist when I was an adolescent but are a great option for teen skin, not just for breathability but also their other functions (such as SPF). I wouldn't recommend cheaper options in this case - even now, I'd say investing in the base is everything so as to not damage your skin. Furthermore, more expensive brands tend to have a wider range of shades available, meaning you have a greater chance of a good-looking result. It's perhaps more important and higher-stakes than you might think to get this right at a young-ish age - I went for my first job interview when I was 15, and who wants to go with a massive tide mark along the jaw line because the shade isn't right? It's a good lesson for young people too: if you want to wear makeup, then look professional. While quite a few of the cheaper high street brands have upped their game since I was trying out foundations for the first time, most still have their 'palest' shade pitched either too dark or too orange - so I would recommend trading up. Try Lily Lolo for mineral foundations that are kind to acneic skin.

Even though I started wearing makeup at a young age, I'm forever grateful to my (otherwise strict!) parents for their laissez-faire attitudes regarding this. Annabel Jones mentions in her article about picking your battles and not restricting the amount or type of makeup your teen wears - and I tend to agree, as doing the opposite would only breed resentment. It's something your teen has to work out for themselves - and, as I have mentioned above, in their own time (and plenty of it).

As she also mentions, good skincare routines and products are vital too. Steer clear of the cheap and artificial as far as possible - brands like Lush, Zao, Couleur Caramel, and Lamazuna are environmentally friendly too. Conversely, don't be afraid to seek prescription products if really needed for teen skin conditions.

Annabel Jones' most important comment though, is that makeup is about enhancing - not disguising - who you really are. And that, for teenage girls who may be feeling more insecure by the day, is crucial.