Should Teenagers Wear Makeup? Dermatologists Discuss The Good, Bad And The Pitfalls


When I was a teenager, all I was allowed to wear was a touch of blush and a swipe of lipstick. But as soon as I turned 16, the universe of makeup was open to me. This was probably because of my constant demand for that one eyeshadow palette or my mum’s perception of 16 being a good age to start using makeup. But is 16 the correct age?

To find out and get a comprehensive understanding of the debate surrounding makeup use among teenagers, I spoke to five dermatologists. Their collective wisdom sheds light on the potential impact of makeup on young skin. So, read on:

Right Age To Start Wearing Makeup

Dr Afzaa Machiwala, MD dermatologist and founder of Sutvak Skin Clinic highlights that there isn’t a specific age for makeup, but choosing age-appropriate products and proper application techniques are crucial for healthy skin. She believes that prioritising skincare is key.


Seconding this, Dr Priyanka Dasari Reddy, MBBS MD DVL says, “The right age to start wearing makeup varies but starting with lighter, age-appropriate products and emphasizing skincare is important. It’s crucial to view makeup as a form of self-expression and enhancement rather than a necessity. Ultimately, the decision should prioritise skin health, comfort and responsible use.”

On the other hand, Dr Apratim Goel, Celebrity dermatologist at Cutis Skin Studio suggests that ages 13 to 14 is generally okay for teens to start using makeup.

Skincare For Teenagers

Regardless of whether teenagers decide to wear makeup or not, they need to prioritise skincare. All the experts unanimously agree on building a skincare routine revolving around the steps of cleansing, moisturising and applying sunscreen. If makeup is being used, an additional step of double cleansing is recommended to take it off thoroughly.


Dr Varshini Reddy, founder and dermatologist of The Glow Clinic, believes that teenage skin is more resilient in its youth, so a few foundational skincare products that focus on protection and prevention should be enough. Along similar lines, Dr Apratim says, “Teenagers should focus on a gentle skincare routine as this is when their skin is undergoing many hormonal changes. Regular cleansing and moisturising can help maintain skin health, along with an SPF of course.”

However, some skin concerns require proper treatment, not just skincare. So it is ideal to let your dermatologist tailor a routine according to your skin type and needs.

Teenage-Specific Makeup Products

In my time writing beauty, I have come across various makeup brands targeted towards teenagers and young adults. This got me thinking about their viability.

Upon asking Dr Jaishree Sharad, Celebrated cosmetic dermatologist, author and TEDx speaker, about these brands, she said, “The marketing of makeup products to teenagers is often strategic–taking into account trends, influencers and the desire for self-expression. Advertisements and packaging may be designed to appeal to the youthful and trendy image associated with adolescence.”

teenage makeup

Dr Priyanka also regards them as marketing gimmicks and thinks that if makeup is to be tailor-made for teenagers, it should have skin-friendly ingredients that are non-comedogenic. Dr Afzaa believes that it is upon teenagers to assess products based on factors like ingredients and formulation rather than some teenage tagline. Seeking professional recommendations and educating themselves can help make better choices.

Ingredients To Look Out For

According to the experts, here are some ingredients that everyone, not only teenagers, should be wary of:

Steer clear of potential skin irritants like high levels of alcohol. Artificial fragrances, whether synthetic or natural, can trigger sensitivity, especially for those with delicate skin. So opting for fragrance-free or hypoallergenic options is wise.

Additionally, be mindful of alcohols like denatured or isopropyl alcohol, as they can dehydrate and irritate the skin. When it comes to oils in products, avoid heavy or comedogenic oils that might clog pores and worsen acne.

On the flip side, not all chemicals are harmful, nor are all-natural products automatically safe. Investing in well-reputed products that are non-comedogenic and gentle while offering additional skincare benefits is crucial.

Navigating Acne-Prone Skin Amongst Teenagers

teenage acne

Acne is a skin condition most commonly persistent during teenage years–I know I’ve had my fair share of breakouts too. So I was sure to ask the experts for some tips to navigate around it.

They all agree that it’s not the best idea to apply makeup directly over active acne flare-ups as it can potentially exacerbate the condition or hinder the skin’s natural healing process. However, if one wants to wear makeup, one should be extremely cautious.

While Dr Varshini suggests always using spot treatment and acne patches before applying makeup, she also believes it is essential to let the skin breathe. Seconding this, Dr Apratim suggests following the less is more rule, especially for daily wear. She also stresses the importance of using a broad-spectrum sunscreen, even if some makeup includes it for added protection. Cleaning makeup tools regularly to prevent bacterial build-up is also a practice one must follow.


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In all, when one should start wearing makeup depends on many more factors apart from age. Makeup can be an extremely fun tool of self-expression but wearing it at the cost of healthy skin is not the way forward. Teenage is a good age to prioritise skincare so that makeup does little to no harm in the long run.

Beauty Writer

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