Growing up, I enjoyed fitting in my mother’s shoes and clothes, wondering if I would ever own such. The perfume and powder on her dressing table were tempting, yet touching any of them meant getting spanked.
Today, children wearing lipstick, nail polish, powder to either look like their mother or their favourite cartoon character seems acceptable by some parents. Some parents, despite the age, say it is okay to apply makeup on their children.
Monica Lubega, a mother of three, realised something was wrong with her daughter’s hair after 10 years.
“At four years, my last born girl was part of a wedding entourage and they applied gel to her hair. Little did I know it would have a long term effect,” Lubega explains. Today, her daughter’s hair is brownish, weak and sheds off. She attributes this to the hair gel which the dermatologist says might have been too strong for her fragile scalp.
“I have since believed that a child’s natural beauty is enough,” she says.
Apart from health concerns, Lubega observes, just like adults, children get addicted to certain things. Introducing make up to children at a young age might make them believe they cannot do away with makeup because they feel incomplete without it.
As they grow, Lubega says at one moment, just in case they cannot afford to get themselves makeup besides what their mothers own, they will pick what does not belong to them or will be tempted to find someone who can buy it for them.
“I understand a lot can be tempting to them but where possible, I think we should protect their innocence because you never know how society will perceive your children after you have applied that makeup on them,” she advises.
Just a little will do you good
Diana Nalumansi, 26, a mother of one, thinks makeup for children would not be a bad idea, but the question is, “which type of makeup do you apply on them and how much of it? Do you monitor it?” Nalumansi thinks a little makeup which does not attract much attention to the child is fine.
“My three-year-old has always watched me wear makeup and every time we are going somewhere, she insists I apply lipstick on her. All I do is put a little lip gloss that goes unnoticed,” Nalumasi shares.
She adds that if she has to apply nail polish, she does so for the toes because you never know when they will put their fingers into the mouth and how much of the vanish they are likely to eat. Worse still if they chose to bite their finger nails.
For those that apply makeup on their children, possibilities of reactions may arise. Anne Mary Kinyira, a retired nurse and mother of five, says children are naturally adorable, but a little make up for a short time might not be harmful.
“It could be at a birthday party or in a play. Where possible, give them a proper bath yourself to ensure that makeup is washed off their bodies,” Kinyira advises. She believes children are adorable without makeup.
Sarah Kisauzi, a mother, shares that not until children are of age and can make their own decisions, parents must not treat them as young adults.
“Instead, parents should try to explain to them why makeup is not good for them at such a tender age even if they insist on wearing it,” says Kisauzi.
She advises against makeup on children unless there is a special occasion, say a presentation at a school gala. Nonetheless, teachers should tell the children why they are wearing that particular makeup.
Another scenario can be at a wedding where they are part of an entourage, but the makeup artists should make it simple for the children, “Apply something that is near to invisible so that when they look in the mirror they relatively see less changes concerning their facial appearances,” Kisauzi advises.
Makeup could become a necessary evil if applied to your toddlers and they suffer repercussions in adulthood.
“Do not give them room to hold you responsible just in case of any side effects,” Kisauzi adds.
Henry Ngobi, a dermatologist at St Francis Hospital Buluuba, Mayuge District, says makeup for children is inappropriate. “There are different chemicals used in these makeup products. Their skin is vulnerable, might get irritated hence develop eczema. Nail polish when not well used might lead to nail fungi infections, leading to nail loss. In the long run could turn out cancerous,” Ngobi says.
Dr Sabrina Kitaka, a paediatrician at Mulago Hospital, says compared to adults, children have higher absorption due to high metabolism. Their bodies can easily absorb whatever is applied on them. The side effects may not be soon but surface in the near future. Makeup is not for children.”