Young girls ditching the Barbies for blusher

Girls are becoming interested in wearing make-up at an ever younger age because of insecurities about their appearance.

A survey by the US-based Renfrew Center Foundation found that at least one in five girls between the ages of eight and 18 who had worn make-up felt negatively about their image when not wearing make-up.

According to the foundation, the girls associated going bare-faced with feeling insecure and unattractive.

A fifth said they felt self-conscious without make-up, while 17% said they felt unattractive. Fifteen per cent said they felt naked or as though something was missing when they didn't wear make-up.

Only five per cent of the girls surveyed said they felt more attractive without make-up.

Over a quarter (27%) said they rarely or never leave the house without make-up.

The places that makeup-wearing girls felt were acceptable to be seen without makeup were home (89%), pool or beach (84%) and gym (82%). The places that were least acceptable were a friend's house (67%) and school (58%).

Two-thirds of the girls surveyed (65%) said they started wearing make-up between the ages of eight and 13. Fifteen per cent said they started wearing make-up between the ages of eight and 10. Half said they started between 11 and 13, while 29 per cent said they were between the ages of 14 and 16 when they first started wearing make-up.

The survey asked the views of 572 girls aged eight to 18 last December.

"Experimenting with wearing makeup is often a rite of passage for young girls in our society," said Adrienne Ressler, National Training Director for The Renfrew Center Foundation.

"However, the concern is how young is too young? Girls who start too early may be hiding more than an acne breakout – they may be demonstrating early signs of self-esteem issues and a negative self-image or setting up a ritual that is difficult to break.

"Unfortunately, these behaviors and feelings can set the stage for addictions or disordered eating patterns to develop."