DIY Toddler Pretend Makeup

DIY Toddler Pretend Makeup


Seems like right about the time you can no longer (successfully) sneak away to the bathroom to do your hair or makeup without interruption, is about the time your toddler enters their “mimicking” stage. Thankfully for us it was also about this time I discovered how much both of my girls enjoyed playing in my make-up drawer.  Using that idea I was able to make some fun little bathroom goodies to keep my girls occupied when I need it the most.


  • Empty makeup compacts – blush and eye shadow compacts work best. My preference is for the less expensive compacts – think drug store eye shadow. The compacts that are smaller, without a mirror or a button that requires pressing to open, will be the favorite for little hands and fingers in this activity. The more compacts, the better. And the compacts that contain several colors of makeup in one case are the favorite amongst my toddlers.
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Warm Water & Soap
  • Cotton Balls
  • Q-Tips
  • Assorted Nail Polish (in lots of colors!)

(Empty & clean compacts and my trusty little assistant inspecting everything.)


How To:

  1. I save all of my empty makeup compacts in the back of my bathroom vanity. When I have a few empty ones I do this all at once, rather than make them one at a time.
  2. Use a Q-Tip to break up any remaining makeup in the compacts, paying special attention to cleaning the corners and edges.
  3. Wash all the compacts with warm soapy water and let them air dry completely.
  4. Then I take another Q-Tip dipped in rubbing alcohol and run it along all the edges of the compacts making sure that there is no residual make-up left over. I also use a bit of rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab to clean the outside and inside of the compacts completely. This sometimes removes paint or logo insignia on the compact itself, but it makes no difference to my toddlers if the compact lid says ‘Covergirl’ or ‘Maybeline’, etc. Because my girls carry these around and play on our carpet with them I want to be certain there is nothing left that could inadvertently stain their fingers, clothes, or carpet. Finally let the compacts dry completely again.
  5. Carefully pour a small thin layer of nail polish into the empty make-up reservoir to serve as the new play “make-up”. Leave the lid open and allow to dry 24 hours. Because the polish is being poured in, rather than painted on, it is thicker than normal polish on our fingers. When I haven’t allowed these a full 24 hours to dry, although dry to touch on the surface, they end up still being tacky beneath and they wind up with little toddler fingernail marks dug into them.
  6. As my girls have gotten older this activity has become quite the group effort. Whereas I use to just make these and give them to them to play with, now it’s quite a process to pick which colors will go into which compacts, we discuss colors, shades of similar colors, shapes and sizes, shiny versus dull, etc.
  7. Add a couple of dollar store blush brushes and a small makeup bag and this “toy” will provide endless hours of fun for the little girls in your life. I have found that keeping these in my bathroom for when my girls are underfoot and I am trying to get ready is super helpful. I’ll pull out their makeup bags and point them towards the full length mirror in my bedroom, where they’ll happily hang out and apply their own and each other’s make-up until we’re all ready to go!

(Our finished creations!)



What is it about non-toy toys that have so much appeal?

What are some of your kiddo’s favorite play things that are household objects or repurposed items that never seem to lose their appeal? 

(Hello, kitchen utensils & cardboard boxes, anyone??)

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