A few weeks ago I was browsing products at Sephora. While looking in the Laura Mercier section, I overhead a conversation between two teenage girls. One said, “I heard Nars has a really good foundation. Look at this one.” I turned to look their way and saw both girls had near-perfect skin that didn’t need foundation, let alone one with heavy coverage one. I wanted to tell them how beautiful their skin was and that they should consider something lighter. But I stopped myself not wanting to ruin the sale for the employee helping them. So instead I walked to another section, and as if right on cue, saw a father applying lip gloss to high six-year-old’s lips. What should have been an adorable moment instead made me feel conflicted. Between these two incidents that happened in just a matter of moments, I started wonder: How young was too young to wear makeup?
My relationship with makeup started around 13 when I got my hands on my older sister’s copy of “Making Faces” by Kevyn Aucoin. I begged my younger sisters to let me do their makeup and applied Vaseline to their lids like Aucoin direction. You know, to give that editorial look.
Despite an early introduction, by high school my interest in makeup faded away as I became more interested in writing and politics. It wasn’t until college that I found makeup again after buying the BareMinerals Get Started Kit. I was living in New York City at the time and was decidedly more interested in dressing like Mary-Kate Olsen than wearing tons of makeup. However, all bets were off once I moved to South Carolina where women just seemed more made up. Maybe it was part interest or maybe it was part wanting to fit in, but I started to routinely wear makeup.
By the time I started routinely wearing makeup, I had already rooted my identity in other interests and traits. I didn’t feel the need to pull my appearance into the equation of who I was. Instead, I saw makeup as a form of artistry that changed the way I saw myself in the mirror. Ironically, this is how I also saw makeup at 13. Makeup gave me opportunities to take risks and learn lessons. I wasn’t covering up who I was, I was enhancing it.
I don’t know what the right answer is when it comes to the “right” age to start wearing makeup. I would hope that most people would come to makeup after they are confident in themselves because I don’t think makeup should be a mask we hide behind. Makeup should help someone feel like they are the best version of themselves.
What do you think? What age did you start wearing makeup? I’d love to hear your perspective.