Remember how fun it was to try on our mother’s lipstick, mascara and blusher? How about parading in mum’s high heels and dresses? It didn’t matter if we ended up looking like clowns, but those hours of primping in front of the mirror was sure fun – especially when we did it on the sly, and have sisters and cousins as cohorts to giggle with.

It’s no surprise that many girls grow up fascinated with make-up because they want to look pretty like mummy. It’s also too easy to be drawn to vibrant lipstick colours, bright eye shadow hues and the curling wand of mascaras … especially if these girls grow up gawking with fascination as mum puts on her war paint for work and parties.

These days, girls’ first make-up tutorials are not necessarily from their mums, aunts or cousins. This new generation of girls’ favourite tutor for everything – including make-up – is YouTube, of course.

There are so many YouTube demonstrations on applying make-up that your head could spin, and there are just as many blogs and websites offering everything from how to “look your age and not like your mummy (avoid heavy eye make-up)” to how to cover up acne and how to throw a beauty sleepover. There are even Barbie make-up games online, so it’s no wonder young girls are up-do-date on their beauty dos and don’ts, and what’s in and what’s out.

Pretend make-up

Kamalia Allyssa Kamaruddin is only nine years ago but she can teach you a thing or two about make-up application techniques. Ask her the difference between concealers and highlighters and she will be more than happy to serve as your beauty consultant. Her virtual guru: YouTube.

“There are many exciting videos on the Internet. There are different make-up styles ranging from kids party make-up and princess make-up to New Year’s party make-up,” says Kamalia.

Abigail Dilusha Mun Wai Xi, 10, helping her mother, R.H Sabrina Dilini, 36, doll-up.

Abigail Dilusha Mun Wai Xi, 10, helping her mother, R.H Sabrina Dilini, 36, doll-up. Photo: The Star/RICKY LAI

For make-up tutorials, Kamalia looks up make-up artist Michelle Phan’s website ( and several step-by-step tutorials on YouTube. She practises these application techniques using her mother’s make-up.

“It’s really fun as I can learn how to put on different Disney princess characters make-up styles, ranging from Snow White and Cinderella to Princess Elsa of Disney’s movie, Frozen. It’s also nice to learn different ways to mix and match make-up colours,” says the Year Three student of SK Assunta 1 in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

Her mother, Ruhani Abdul Razak, 46, says her only daughter was barely four years old when learnt how to surf the Internet from her older brothers Kamarul Ariff, 24, and Kamarul Akmall 19.

“It’s all through trial and error, really. All she does is type out a word and pages of information on the subject matter appear on screen. Sometimes, Kamalia even shares some of her latest findings on make-up application techniques with me,” says the chief clerk at the Defence Ministry in Kuala Lumpur.

While Ruhani allows her daughter to surf beauty websites, the sessions are restricted to 30 minutes on weekends, with her mother supervising. The availability of affordable cosmetics in stores and online websites has also ignited many young girls’ interest in cosmetics and grooming. Some parents think these affordable make-up kits make great gifts for their daughters.

Harini Saravankumar, maybe only nine years old but she has been straightening her frizzy hair since Year One. The reason: constant teasing by a few naughty schoolmates.

Harini Saravankumar, maybe only nine years old but she has been straightening her frizzy hair since she was seven. Photo: The Star/SAM THAM

Last November, homemaker-cum-online entrepreneur, R.H. Sabrina Dilini, 36, presented a make-up set to her eldest daughter Abigail Dilusha Mun Wai Xi, 10. Abigail loves playing with her make-up set – there are glitters, blush, eye shadows and lip-gloss. “I like to see the outcome of using make-up. I like to use eyeliner and lipstick but I’m don’t know how to apply it properly. It’s always crooked,” sighs the Year Four student from Kuala Lumpur’s Kuen Cheng Girls School 2.

Her younger sister, Beatrise Duhita Mun Wai Yee, six, prefers accessories to make-up. Some of her favourites include necklaces, earrings, bracelets and loom bands.

Sabrina doesn’t mind her daughters playing make-up and dress-up. To her, it’s merely child’s play and helps develop their creativity, plus her kids’ make-up playtime is restricted to school holidays.

“Most of us dabbled with our mother’s make-up when we were younger. That’s how we learnt to put on make-up. I’m not too fussy when they put on lipstick or blusher, provided they don’t go overboard,” says Sabrina, who also has a two-year old daughter.

Starting too young

While it may seem acceptable for young girls to fiddle around make-up, there are growing concerns in Britain where girls are starting to wear make-up younger, some as young as 11. An online report – A Fifth Of Girls As Young As 12 In Britain Won’t Leave Home Without Full Make-Up – on states that girls as young as 12 years old are afraid to leave home without make-up. It says 63% of 12 to 14-year-olds go to bed without washing off their make-up at least once a week.

Girls are often drawn to cosmetics ranging from vibrant lipstick colours, bright eye shadow hues and foundation shades.

All for fun: Girls like to experiment with make-up’s vibrant colours.

Adding fuel to the fire is the rise of child beauty pageants on reality TV shows like Toddlers & Tiaras and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. These shows have been criticised for introducing spray tanning, eyebrow waxing and hair extensions to young girls.

There are also concerns about certain ingredients in make-up products that can cause skin sensitivity. The harmful consequences of cosmetics for children include allergies, skin dryness, swelling and even cancer.

Consultant dermatologist Dr Lee Yin Yin says children should refrain from using make-up as their skin structure is different from adults.

“Children are not little adults. Some unlicensed products contain harsh chemicals that may cause cancer. Certain make-up ingredients can result in contact dermatitis and hives. Products with astringent or in gel form may cause a child’s skin to itch, leading to swelling and inflammation,” explains Dr Lee, adding children should use mild, or soap-free and fragrance-free cleansers and apply sunscreen when they are out in the sun.

She adds that a child’s skin has a higher surface area to body volume ratio, hence there is higher absorption through dermal contact. When a harsh chemical comes in contact with tender skin, inflammation can occur.

“Children have thinner dermis as it contains lesser elastic fibre. Harsh substances are absorbed into the skin more easily than in adults. Plus, a child’s skin hardly produces any sebum (oily substance) before puberty.”

Sabrina is aware of the issues related to children using make-up but she takes it all in her stride.

She allows her daughters the freedom to experiment with make-up, but she also makes her girls understand that beauty is only skin deep and what really matters is a person’s character.

“I always remind my daughters they are beautiful just they way there are, with or without make-up,” explains Sabrina, who thinks girls should be allowed to put on light make-up (blush and lip gloss) in their mid teens. All the mothers interviewed also only allow their daughters to wear make-up in play sessions at home.

Vanity fair

Nurqistina Aisyah Mohd Rosli, six, likes to decorate her fingers, palm and feet with henna art.

Nurqistina, six, likes to decorate her fingers, palm and feet with henna art. Photo: The Star/AZLINA BT ABDULLAH

Nine-year-old Harini Saravankumar has been straightening her frizzy hair since she started going to primary school. But it’s not because she is vain. She simply couldn’t stand her schoolmates’ teasing. “Some girls teased me about my frizzy hair. It was very hurtful and I cried so much. Some days, I refused to go to school,” says Harini. To end Harini’s misery, her mother Pavithera Aigamurom, 31, decided to straighten her hair.

“With her new look, Harini is like a new person bursting with confidence. She’s much happier with her straightened hair and has made so many friends in school,” says Pavithera, a nurse.

Harini, who likes to read beauty and fashion magazines, chips in: “I like my new look. I love my straightened hair as it makes me look neater and much prettier.”

To ensure her daughter’s hair isn’t damaged, Pavithera invests in good quality haircare products.

“I spend about RM200 on Harini’s haircare products. Although the price may be steep, I don’t really mind as I want Harini to feel confident and have a positive mind set.”

For six-year-old Nurqistina Aisyah Mohd Rosli, her favourite beauty regime is painting her fingers, palm and feet with henna art. Her brother Mursyid Mohd Rosli, 10, and mother Azlina Othman, 40, help her to draw elaborate patterns on her hands and feet.

Lavanya, 14, loves to have her nails done in different colours and finishes. Photo: AZLINA BT ABDULLAH/The Star

Lavanya, 14, loves to have her nails done in different colours and finishes. Photo:  The Star/AZLINA BT ABDULLAH

“It’s pretty,” says Nurqistina.

“Nurqistina isn’t fussy about motifs so we have a chance to hone our henna drawing skills. I don’t mind using henna on her fingers as it is an organic plant and is a safer option than temporary tattoos,” adds her mother.

Klang-based Lavanya Ashley Shankar, 14, is a nail polish enthusiast. She loves getting her nails done in different finishes, such as shimmer, frost, jelly and matte.

“I often followed my mother and aunties for manicure sessions and hair treatments at saloons. I was always fascinated with the entire beauty treatment. Now that I’m older, my parents allow me to go for manicures and pedicures during school holidays,” says the Form Two student from SMK Convent in Klang, who is a big fan of the classic French manicure.

She reads beauty magazines and surfs fashion websites. Lavanya also does hair rebonding once a year.

“I used to have frizzy hair which always looked messy. With my straightened hair, I feel much more confident,” explains Lavanya, who also follows a strict skincare routine of cleansing, toning and moisturising her face.