Teens: Want to Start Wearing Makeup? Read This First

  • Makeup
  • May 17, 2012
  • Updated August 28, 2020
Two teenage girls wearing no makeup

Dear Budget Fashionista,

I’m 14 and I don’t normally wear makeup, but I want to start. I’m wondering what I should buy and what I don’t really need. Also, where should I shop for makeup and how much should I spend?

Teen Makeup: Simple is Beautiful

When it comes to makeup, the rule of thumb is to keep things simple. This is especially important when you’re first starting out. Makeup, applied correctly, should enhance your natural beauty — not turn you into a clown.

Here’s where I’m going to get all, “when I was your age” on you. I remember thinking a thick layer of aqua eyeliner below my eye looked all grown-up and cool…and as it turns out, I looked ridiculous. There’s a photo to prove it, which I’ve chosen not to publish here.

8 Makeup Tips for Teens

Perhaps the most impactful thing you can do is focus on keeping your skin clear. Teen skin is acne-prone and foundation can fan those zit flames. The last thing you want is to be dependent on foundation because you can’t stop the breakouts. With that in mind, here is a makeup program to follow that’s just right for your pretty teenage face. You can find everything you need at Target or Walmart.

1. Wash nightly with a gentle cleanser

The first step in any makeup routine is to keep your skin clean and clear. Invest in a gentle cleanser and use it nightly. Cetaphil is a fabulous, all-purpose option that you can buy at Target.

If you have very sensitive skin, you might try a micellar cleanser instead, like Garnier SKINACTIVE Micellar Cleansing Water. With this type of product, you’ll avoid the tap water rinse that can often be the source of breakouts.

2. Use oil sheets in the morning and throughout the day.

Target’s brand Up&Up sells a pack of 70 oil sheets for $3.59. Use them to dab away excess oil in the morning and throughout the day. Unless you have very oily skin, you shouldn’t need to use your cleanser in the morning if you washed up the night before.

3. Invest in a good SPF moisturizer.

Look for a non-greasy, non-pore-clogging formula with SPF of 30 or more. Also know that the sun protection will be limited if you only apply a tiny bit. Either put on enough to cover your face or keep your moisturizer on hand and reapply throughout the day.

4. Try concealer instead of foundation

Spot-fix blemishes and troublespots with concealer, instead of slathering makeup over your entire face. If you have oily skin, you may like Neutrogena’s SkinClearing Blemish Concealer for $7 at Target.

5. Use mascara on your upper lashes

A coat of mascara on your top lashes will draw attention to your eyes. Skip the mascara on your lower lashes because it’s likely to be all over your face by the end of the day. There’s too much risk and too little reward.

Maybelline Great Lash is a solid, budget-friendly choice for mascara.

6. Have fun with lip gloss

Experiment with lighter shades of lip gloss. Try pinks, nudes and even clear formulas. If you don’t care for the shiny, sticky lip, a more subtle alternative is the tinted lip balm. This will add a dose of moisture along with a hint of color.

7. Use blush, with the help of a friend

You can wear blush to add a glow to your skin. But there’s a very fine line between too little blush and too much blush. Ask an honest friend to be your second set of eyes. When you have it just right, the blush should be barely visible.

8. Get a tutorial on eyeshadow and liner

In truth, you don’t need eyeshadow or eyeliner. But if you’re itching to go there, don’t do it without some instruction first. Head to the beauty counter and ask them to show you how to apply eye makeup. They’ll also make color recommendations based on your skin tone. Write down everything they tell you and then practice at home before you head outside!

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    Catherine Brock

    As a Southern California transplant now living in the Midwest, Catherine has turned layering into an art form and accepted that UGGs actually do have a place in the stylish lady's wardrobe. She's been featured in Woman's World Magazine, DrLaura.com, Refinery29, Wellness.com and has made appearances on ABC7 Chicago, FOX2News St. Louis, KCAL9 Los Angeles, Fox19 Cincinnati, WGN TV Chicago and WCPO TV Cincinnati.

    Blog Comments

    Wish I had recieved tips like these in my highschool days.. haha. Some of them may even apply to me now!

    I like New York Color’s collection for lipgloss especially the fruity clear ones. I suggest that the 14 yr old girl not wear blush as most 14 yr olds don’t need it especially if they are getting their green veggies. A few good cleansers that I like are Cetaphil, Purpose and Spectro Jel. Cheap and gentle.

    If you get pimples, try garlic, weird but it works.

    I LOVE Maybelline Great Lash! I have tried tons of expensive mascaras (like Bare Escentuals, MAC, Clinique) and I always come back to Maybelline.

    I preferred the maybelline full n soft mascara

    Just in case you care what boys think of your makeup, a tale from long ago: There was this girl in my middle school who wore a TON of makeup and sprayed the front of her hair into a stegosaurus plate (this was the 80s.) She switched schools for high school, but came back one day to visit her friends. I asked a guy I knew, “So did you see Lara?”

    “Yeah,” he said. “She doesn’t wear all that makeup anymore.”

    He paused.

    “She looks really, really good now.”

    I’d recommend the Cover Girl LashExact or VolumeExact mascaras, actually. Still reasonable drugstore prices, but they’re very, very foolproof because the brush doesn’t dispense too much or clump. Very natural look with more pop to your eyes, which I think is great for teen makeup.

    If you really want bang for your buck when it comes to eyelashes, try L’Oreal Voluminous mascara.  It constantly receives top reviews in fashion mags (InStyle, People StyleWatch and Allure are some that have recommended it.)  I like really full, flirty, fake-looking lashes since I don’t tend to wear any other eye makeup, and this makes your lashes so thick you don’t even need eyeliner.  Also, if you’re like me and have stick-straight lashes and not always enough time to fiddle with a curler, try the waterproof Voluminous – the waterproof formula tends to curl back your lashes so they don’t stick out straight.  I have tried every cheap drugstore mascara brand, plus Lancome, MAC, Chanel, Dior, Clinique, and a few others.  Bah.  This is the ONLY mascara I will use for the rest of my life!  $7.99 at Wal-Mart – w00t!  😉

    the person who says 14 year olds dont need blush, im 13 and everyone i know uses blush in the winter at least and trust me WE DO NEED IT

    ok so if u are looking for a good mascara..just remember this..loreal voluminous mascara DOES NOT WORK!!! it worked the first couple days after i bought it..but now after 2 weeks its all clumpy and disgusting. if your going to buy makeup, u might as well buy the stuff that works, right???

    if you want a natural beauty skin glow you just drink 8 glasses of water a day,sleep for eight hours,smile a lot,eat lots and lots of vegetables avoid meat and also have a fruit daily.apply it for 10 days your skin will start GLOWING.

    I’ve learned a few things from this recession – (1) the importance of saving (2) the importance of not spending money frivilously on overly priced makeup. After getting to the bottom of each and every makeup product I owned (which mostly came from Sephora) I was forced to find replacements that were less expensive. I don’t have time to brave the crowds at walmart, so I do a lot of online deal hunting. Most of my stuff now comes from Ebay shops or specialty cosmetics stores online. I found a great site called Coono Babe. Their makeup is really inexpensive and really great quality. Of note are their lip glosses and face powders. An added bonus – they offer free shipping on all orders. Check them out!

    for skin…ur biggest concern should be to get rid of/prevent acne. so go to walgreens and find this product “Queen Helene’s Mint Julep Masque” it is absolutely amazing. not sold in many other drugstores. it is formulated to get rid of your acne and it does u will see immendiate results. also i use it as a spot treatment for those monster pimples that hurt when u touch them.

    ok…im 13 2. and from my experience, i have been told to wear makeup. i do it mostly to impress the boys. they tell me MASCARA! EYELINER! EYE SHADOW! so i followed them. then one day i woke up b4 school and had a
    SEVERE break out. because my face wasnt used to the makeup, i broke out. but the way i got rid of them is GREAT! its called deep 360 clean by l’oreal. it comes with a silicone scrubber too! its not harsh on your skin and it feels sooo good. now i was my face with it every night. (for me it doubles as a makeup remover) they sell it for sensitive, dry, and oily skin.all i have to say is, i used it, woke up in the morning and my MASSIVE breakout was gone. not VIRTUALLY gone like they say on some commercials, but truely sincerly GONE! so y not give it a shot (:

    Hi,i am 13 too n i have pimples right before my periods n i was sick of it….
    with other people with this problem…i advise u to use a facewash called
    it’s main purpose is for acne(written on back of the bottle (at the top))
    but it also helps reduce blackheads…i used it and i had a amazingly visible change in the acne and coz of the salicylic acid it has..it also removes marks of former pimples,and removes blackheads too…(thank god i dun have to use the tweezer to remove the black head 🙂 )
    USE IT IT WORKSSS 😉 🙂 🙂 <3 <3

    Hey gurls! Im thirteen too and that tip about foundation is so true. I started wearing makeup at the begining of eigth grade and my mom told me to wear foundatiion so i did. All it does is make my skin oily. And then i break out more. Word to the wise, no foundation for a while ladies. Also Biore skin products are really AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Alright , im 13 i’ll soon turn to 14 and i DO wear makeup even im not allowed to
    I use a concealer just to cover up dark circles , maybe a natural colored eyeshadow and bronzer , and i use a very light colored blush to set the concealer
    Well i can say that the products i use are clinique , chanel & dior . But for the bronzer , i use Avon and its the best product that i use! Quite cheap , but seriously , clinique’s eyeshadows sucks . And omg , clinique mascara sucks either! Dior’s concealer’s also not good as flormar’s ( flormar is a drugstore brand in my country ) so yeah , go to cheaper products like maybeline , l’oreal or covergirl .

    I’m almost 14. And I wear a LOT of makeup. I wear foundation, eyeliner (top&bottom), eye shadow and TONS of mascara. I get a lot of compliments on it, probably because I do it pretty well. But I break out a bunch, too. Use Burt Bee’s Willow Bark Face Scrub. It works wonders. If you have acne and use foundation, make sure you wash your face at least twice a day. And use a kabuki brush, it covers your acne pretty good. Use liquid foundation and use a kabuki brush to apply it because it looks airbrushed. Then use loose powder to set it. 🙂

    Gawd. Who wrote this? For ah-mazing tips, go to the MAC counter, nawt some silly website. Anyways, cheap makeup always leads to brake outs. Take it from a pro. My summertime job was at Be Pretty cosmetics, and I was hired to be assisstant manager to Estee Lauder. So yeah. Listen to me instead.

    It’s a liitle hard to believe you since your grammar usage is a little awkward. Would’nt an estee Lauder assistant better grammar usage? Anyways who are you to tell peolpme what to do maybe 13 yr old girls dont have the privilage to go all the way to a mac store or a way to get there?

    I don’t know who you are but this is all I have to say to that. Ain’t no 13 year old girl got time for that

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