How to Make an Age-Appropriate Makeup Kit for Tweens


Makeup newbies need a few basics and pointers! Just remember to emphasize that it’s all about fun and feeling good, and not about looking perfect.

Do you have a young person in your life? Say, an early teen who’s showing the tell-tale signs of a future product hoarder? Maybe that relative/child-of-a-friend/person who, when you saw him or her over the holidays, you thought, “Oh wow, Kimmy/Mikey is wearing eyeliner now. Someone should show her/him how to do that, um, better.”

Let’s replay the scene in our heads. As you note the crookedly applied liner, three-shades-too-light concealer, and 6,000 layers of extra-shiny lip gloss, you wish this poor beginner had a beauty hero. Suddenly, this song starts playing, and you realize: that hero could be you. You could be the person who gently guides this newbie toward a future of judiciously chosen, expertly applied makeup. They don’t have to do it alone.

Do you remember being 13 years old? I do. I had sausage link–curled bangs, braces, and I was heavily interested in glitter lip gloss and using my mom’s foundation (which didn’t match my skin tone) to cover up my acne. I also believed—was sure!—I had “perfected” the smokey eye. (I can’t even do that now.) Looking back, I would’ve killed for some age-appropriate guidance from a cool older relative. Suggestions of great products that were easy to use, colors that actually looked good on me, a nudge in the right direction.

Let’s help your young relative or friend have as relatively easy a transition into makeup as possible, shall we? Remember: for someone young, the goal is to keep things simple and age-appropriate. Makeup should be fun, for all genders—when you give this gift, be sure to emphasize that!

Pick up a cute makeup bag and fill it with the following.

1: BB Cream

The holy grail of easy-to-use face products, BB cream is simple to match (because it adjusts automatically to your skin tone) and requires nothing more than fingers to smooth on. It also will make potentially uneven teenage skin look way better.

Tip: Use a silver permanent marker to circle the shade on the bottle or tube, so it’s easy to see what to buy next time. It’s also a good starter lesson in beginning to decipher the often dizzying amount of info on product labels.

Good picks: Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream SPF 35 or Too Faced Tinted Beauty Balm

2: Lip-and-cheek tint

Natural-looking color that is difficult to screw up—that’s the goal here. Your mentee can use it to make lips look a few shades darker without going overboard, and brighten their whole face with a hint of rosy glow on cheeks.

Tip: Clip out a magazine photo of a smiling model’s face and circle the apples of her cheeks. Underneath, write: “Smile! and put blush right here :)” Fold up, and tuck it in with the blush.

Good picks: ILIA Multi-Stick or Tarte Cheek Stain

3: Rosebud Perfume Co. Smith’s Rosebud Salve

It’s a gloss! It’s a salve! It’s the thing to use on lips and cuticles and elbows and dry skin; a product that can be used to keep brows in place, make eyelids glossy, or even smooth down flyaways! It’s never too soon to get schooled in the art of a good multitasker (not to mention good skin care). Smith’s is a classic, loved by makeup artists, and comes in a cute vintage-looking tin. Way more adult-looking than those Lip Smacker roll-ons!

Rosebud Perfume Co. Smith’s Rosebud Salve

4: Your fave mascara + a waterproof black eye liner

Give them your favorite mascara and liner products, tied together with a ribbon, and tuck in a personal note that explains why they work for you. Because smearing WILL happen with the little ones, I say go with a mascara that you find non-smudgy.

Example: “This is Inglot Cosmetics False Lash Effect Mascara, and I love it. It took me years to find a mascara that didn’t run or clump or wear off, and ta-daaa, this is my winner. The liner is Benefit BADgal liner waterproof. It stays on even if you go swimming.” 

Inglot Cosmetics False Lash Effect Mascara and Benefit BADgal Liner Waterproof

5: Fun stuff!

Because, your giftee is super young and makeup is so fun!!! Pop some iridescent glitter into the kit, or drive their parents wild with your top rebellion-themed nail polish color of choice, like a good black or neon blue. There’s no doubt your mentee will love it and think you’re the greatest.

Good picks: Lit Cosmetics Glitter Pigment- Barbie Shops S3 and Cult Nails Nail Lacquer in Nevermore

Bonus round

Bring over the kit, let the unwrapping begin, and then offer to do a makeup session together. But don’t do his or her makeup—show ’em how to do it, and have them give it a go. 

Remember, you do-gooders: Do a teen’s makeup, and they’ll have makeup for a day. Teach a teen to do makeup, and they’ll have beauty skills for a lifetime. Ah, the joy of helping someone through life’s most awkward years...

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