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Reality Check: Makeup Obsessed Preschooler

Q. My preschooler is obsessed with makeup. I think she's too young to experiment with it, even if it's just for pretend. What can I do to convince her it's not good without looking like a hypocrite?

Lighten up. Your preschooler is mimicking the person she most looks up to -- you. It's no different than her "cooking dinner for her babies" (a.k.a. making imaginary pies for her dolls).

I understand, though. I groaned when Lila's godmother gave her a box of play makeup for her fourth birthday. Lila's eyes shone, but I wasn't ready to see my baby slather blue eye shadow and red lipstick all over her face. So when she wasn't looking, I took out the offending items and replaced them with clear lip glosses and body lotions. These satisfied her desire to put on makeup but were more age-appropriate.

Chances are, if you give her your lip balm and an old fluffy brush, she'll forget about the makeup after a while and move on to a new toy. But if she doesn't, or can't walk by a tween makeup haven like Club Libby Lu or Claire's without begging to go in, hip her to your rules: Yes, it's fun to pretend, but the real stuff is for grown-ups.