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Are the kids these days wearing too much makeup or are the adults overreacting? You may have noticed that online and in public, young teens are wearing full faces of makeup and executing contouring techniques that some of us old people haven’t even attempted. Girls as young as 13, 14 or even 12 are spending hours and hundreds of dollars on their makeup and they haven’t even started high school yet.

A Daily Mail article profiled 14-year-old Amelia who owns over $200 worth of makeup, spends two hours a day on application and much more than that watching YouTube beauty tutorials. While her mom, Debbie, understands that experimenting with makeup is a part of coming of age in the Western world, she’s uneasy about how it makes Amelia look older and about the kind of attention it attracts.

According to a recent study about makeup habits by Nuyoo in the U.K., 66 per cent of women over the age of 18 report that they started using cosmetics between the ages of 13 to 15. Eleven per cent started at the ages of 10 to 12 and 23 per cent started after the age of 16. The survey did not collect data about how much makeup the girls were wearing at those ages, but judging by lived experience, it was more likely a dash of lipgloss and swipe of mascara than a 15-product regimen.

While makeup in itself is probably harmless, the reasons for wearing it point to a deeper problem: a self-consciousness about appearance. In the study, 54 per cent of respondents said they started wearing makeup because they felt self-conscious about how they looked. If we’re teaching girls at 14 they aren’t “pretty enough” to leave the house without a full face of makeup, how is that going to affect their life-long self-esteem?

What is the right age to start wearing makeup? Should kids be introduced to it gradually or have the freedom to experiment?