Ten-year-old Ashley Hocking likes to watch her mom get ready when she's going out for the evening.
But while she's intrigued with Carmen Hocking's application of powder and lipstick, she doesn't want to try any makeup on herself.
"Ashley hasn't asked to start wearing makeup yet," Carmen says of her daughter, a fifth-grader at Corpus Christi Catholic School. "I've asked her when she'd be ready, and she said, 'Mom, nobody's wearing it right now.'"
At a time when young girls increasingly yearn to wear makeup or pierce their ears like their favorite characters on "That's So Raven," Carmen is glad her daughter's not ready to grow up so fast.
"I was pleased to hear (Ashley) say that," she says. "Sometimes I think if girls start wearing it when they're too young, it draws attention to them in the wrong way. I want Ashley to be a young girl for as long as she can. Young girls have their own inner beauty and outer beauty for now."
The cosmetics industry certainly sees the power of marketing the "outer beauty" concept for youths. Thus retailers of child-oriented products offer, however camouflaged by lovable animated figures, early pitches for lip gloss and sparkly eye shadow. There's Disney Eeyore Cuties lip balm, for example. Or Mattel's Barbie Super Model fragrance.
But Carmen isn't seeing too much, too soon, amid Ashley's peers.
"A few girls will wear a little bit of eye makeup - nothing too dramatic," she says. "Some of the more popular girls will start the trend, and then the other girls will do it to fit in with the trend.
"I have started to see that some of the sixth-grade girls wear very light makeup, like a little bit of blush or very muted lipstick colors," she adds. "There are some lip colors out that are a sandy, neutral color or a faint pink."
However, Carmen says that, like many girls, Ashley likes to wear fingernail polish.
"Anything pink is good," she says.
The older crowd
Jacyln McCullough, eighth-grader, waited until junior high to begin wearing makeup.
"I wore some for fun and dress-up when I was 8. But I really started wearing it for seventh grade last year," she says.
Like Ashley, she favors the color pink.
"I like to go natural, like light pinks and blues for my eyes, and pink lip gloss. And I am a natural blusher, so really not much blush."
Jacyln is adamant, however, that foundation's just too much.
"I think it looks so fake," she says.
Jacyln hasn't had any quarrels with her family about how she applies her makeup.
"They feel the same way about having natural colors," she says.
When Ashley is ready for cosmetics, her mom is pretty certain where one influence will come from.
"She likes Lindsay Lohan and wants to know what she's doing and wearing. There's a movie coming out with Hilary and Hayley Duff. She likes them, too. She's tuned into what's current," Carmen says.
But she's confident that her influence will win the day. For now, the two enjoy giving each other manicures and pedicures with kid-appropriate polish.
"First I do one coat of polish (for her), and then my mom does one on mine, and then I do one on hers," Ashley says. "Then she'll do my second coat, then the top coats."
And she remains pretty circumspect about introducing anything beside nail polish into her look. She's only got one friend who wears makeup right now.
"But she's MUCH older," Ashley says. "She's 12."