Healthy Beauty for Tweens

A BIW reader just brought the recent New York Times beauty article 'It Starts With Lip Gloss' to my attention and commented, "It concerned me because these young girls are not only getting the wrong message about beauty, but also a 9 or 10 year old is too early to pile on the toxins. This is an arena that needs advocates to educate both parents and kids. I would love to see a article on that topic," wrote Victoria Fantauzzi of La Bella Figura.

And she's absolutely right. It amazes me, but certainly doesn't surprise me, that girls are getting interested in makeup at 9 or 10. Fashion, beauty and style influences for young girls are everywhere (not to mention Toddlers & Tiaras!). We could spend hours debating the appropriate age to begin wearing makeup, but in the end that is a parent's decision. The real issue that I want to emphasize is that starting with SAFE, NATURAL makeup is incredibly important for still-developing bodies! Unfortunately, the Times article doesn't seem to provide any clean options (no word on the ingredients in Willa yet, but the others mentioned don't get my thumbs-up). But there are some fantastic brands out there, many of them started by moms who were unhappy with the beauty product options for their own blossoming daughters.

My 2010 article, 'Beauty For the Tween Scene,' published in Natural Solutions, looks at this issue a bit more deeply (and props to NS, which was virtually the only mag willing to tackle the topic at that time). Here's a PDF of the article (which includes lots of pretty, girly and natural product picks for girls!) for you to check out.

Here's a short excerpt of the article:

Unfortunately, while organic and nontoxic baby items abound, natural beauty options for tweens are much harder to find. This void inevitably leads many upper-elementary and middle-school girls straight to conventional cosmetics, lotions, and haircare products packed with scary ingredients. Bonne Bell Lip Smacker, for example, contains propylene glycol, a potential endocrine-disrupting solvent, while Suave Kids’ Smoothers 2 in 1 Shampoo has hormone-altering sodium laureth sulfate, along with DMDM hydantoin, a skin, eye, and lung irritant.

Everyone should avoid these ingredients, but tweens especially should steer clear, since the developmental years leading up to and during puberty are critically important to healthy hormonal function. Puberty now commonly starts at age 9 or 10, rather than at 12 or 13, and experts link this early onset—which increases breast cancer and polycystic ovary syndrome risks—to hormone-altering fragrances, preservatives, and pesticides found in food, plastics, detergents, and, of course, personal care products. Plus, constant exposure to these chemicals all but overwhelms young bodies, which are unable to detoxify at the same rate as fully developed adults, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Since I published that story, the natural beauty market for girls has grown, albeit slowly. Here are a few new natural beauty brands for girls that I wish were around for my original story...

Piggy Paint: nail polish

Joon: skin care. lip shine

Bellaboo: skin care

Little Earth's Beauty: makeup

And a few of the brands originally featured in my NS article:

Sparklehearts: skin care, hair care

Good For You Girls: skin care

Glory for Girls: skin care, lip balm

Teens Turning Green: skin care

Aren't they cute? I also love the idea of teaching girls to make their own skin care products from ingredients in the kitchen. Start easy with an avocado and honey mask, or an oatmeal or brown sugar scrub.

Victoria told me in a past interview that she's passing the love of natural beauty onto her own niece with DIY products: "we have been teaching her to take care of her skin and body with natural products.  We make our own gentle exfoliators with a super seed mix, honey and coconut cream and then we slather our faces and dance to Rihanna. She enjoys mixing things up and adding her own blend of essential oils."

Have any other great brands or at-home recipe ideas for girls (or boys)?

To read more on the subject, check out my 2010 post on early puberty and toxins from personal care products being detected in young girls...

Image Courtesy: Amazing Cosmetics/Angela Coppola/Solus-Veer/Corbis