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FIRST BLUSH WHEN SHOULD TEENS START WEARING MAKEUP-AND HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?

Some teens can't own enough lipstick, eyeliner and mascara.

Others are happy with just lip balm. Or no makeup at all.

Either way, high school -- and often even middle school or junior high -- is the time when pre-teens and teens experiment with makeup and decide whether or not they like buying it, applying it and wearing it.

When it comes to makeup, NeXt readers offer a variety of opinions on the subject.

Not surprisingly, some think it's a total waste of money.

"I don't spend my time or my money on makeup. I think it's fine for other people if that's what they want to do, but I would never do it myself," said Raina Lipsitz, 16, a junior at City Honors High School.

"Most of the girls in my class wear makeup -- not too much -- but it just seems that whenever I put on lipstick, it comes off within two minutes anyway. It seems pretty pointless, and I think boys don't wear makeup; why should I?" she said.

Taniqua Stover, 13, is another teen who shuns makeup.

"I don't wear makeup because it doesn't make boys look at you more, and it doesn't make you look prettier. It makes you look like a clown," said Taniqua, who attends the Buffalo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts.

"The only time I really wear makeup is during a dance performance because I have to, not because I want to. When I get older, I will never wear makeup, because it's ugly. I think my beauty just comes out," she said.

Another teen, who wished to remain anonymous, made this comment via e-mail: "There are way too many girls out there who are hiding their real faces with makeup.

"Makeup to me is not all that important. Me and all of my friends are all obsessed with Bonne Bell. Some of my friends buy LipSmackers. I buy Lip Lites and Lip Lix because they have more color. I wouldn't really call that makeup, just lip color," she wrote.

While girls may apply makeup in hopes of appearing older than they are, sometimes makeup can actually make a girl look younger, one NeXt reader observed.

"I feel that girls who wear too much makeup look less mature, as if they feel unconfident in themselves and need to make up for it," wrote Jen Strasser, 16, a sophomore at Sacred Heart Academy.

Unlike Taniqua and Raina, however, Jen likes to wear some makeup -- as long as it is not too much.

"Personally, I like makeup. I think it makes a person look much better when applied correctly and in limitation," she said.

Because she has light skin and blond eyelashes, she always wears mascara, for example.

"Without it, my eyes look too small and sunken in. So, just for the sake of making myself look more bright, aware and non-pale, I wear mascara every day," she said.

There are times, however, when she wants to wear a little more makeup than just mascara.

"When I go out, depending on how much time I have and if there is potential guy-meeting status, I'll wear more," said Jen, adding that she sticks to the bare necessities when it comes to makeup. In her room, she has a single compact, a tube of mascara, black eye liner, two tubes of lipstick and an eyebrow pencil she never uses.

She does, however have lots of clear lip balms. "I'm a lip balm addict -- can't live without it," she confessed.

Jill LoBocchiaro, 14, who is in the eighth grade at Nardin Academy, also likes to wear makeup from time to time but thinks there is a time and place for it.

"If you are going to a charity ball or a formal restaurant, then why not wear some -- maybe a little blush, eye shadow and some lipstick? Makeup can make a person look very nice, but it can also make you look like a fool," she said.

"I also believe that there is a certain place for makeup. Why wear makeup to a soccer game if you're only going to get all sweaty? It will smear anyway, so what's the point?" she asked.

As most teens know, many parents get involved in the makeup matter, and they, too, have different ideas. Some girls say their parents don't like them to wear any makeup at all. Others say their parents don't really mind if they do.

Should parents have a say in when and if their daughters should wear makeup? NeXt asked its readers.

Demi Walsh, 13, another eighth-grader at Nardin, said they should -- especially when a girl overdoes it.

"I think that the girls should be able to wear makeup when they want, but the parent should tell them if they are wearing too much. I mean, when I see some girls walking down the street, I think that it is just unbelievable that before they go out of the house their parents don't say anything to them. I couldn't imagine my mother not saying something to me if I walked out of the house with a ton of makeup on," she said.

The bottom line: How adept a girl is with a mascara wand is not nearly as important as other things, such as her personality, love of life, humor, values and interests. Those are the things that make her interesting and appealing, said Jen.

"To me, those are much more important than 10 brimming bags of cosmetics combined," she said.

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