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Independent Living Skills

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Independent Living Skills

Hygiene for adolescent girls

All teenagers have to cope with growing up. As they get older they need to gain independent living skills such as learning to care for themselves. This includes learning new skills such as putting on make-up and perfecting old skills such as cleaning teeth.


Applying make-up is very important for many young girls, and will be a signal that they want others to see them as adults. If it is done badly it could be used as a point of ridicule. Some adolescents may need advice on easy ways to put on make-up. They may not instinctively see what suits them, what colours to choose and how to apply it effectively.

A make-up lesson is a useful way of doing this. They may listen more to an expert than to a parent. Techniques such as using a lip brush or gloss on lips may help. Before trying to apply make-up it is important that they are sitting down and are well-balanced. If their balance is poor then trying to do any fine motor task will also be compromised. Too little make up is always better than too much. Using a good magnifying mirror can make it simpler to see what to do. Keeping to the same order when putting make-up on makes it into a routine to be remembered. Practise applying make-up when they have time and are not under pressure. Restrict the number of colours for eye shadow and lipstick. Try sticking to skin tone and eye colour as opposed to the colour of clothes. Remember it is also important to remove it thoroughly at the end of the day. Use large cotton wool pads; this makes the task easier than using small ones.

Some girls will try to pluck their eyebrows. If they have poor motor control this could be a difficult task. Let someone else shape them for the young person if they need to do so. It may be easier to just tidy them up. If mascara is difficult to put on having eyelashes dyed is one option. This only needs to be done a few times a year.


Placing outfits in order, either on a hanger or on the floor makes it easier to colour match. Encourage your daughter to look at the outfit to see if everything matches before putting the clothes on. If she is going to work in an office, then she may need to have appropriate office clothes. A uniform of simple outfits is usually best, such as black trousers or a skirt and different coloured tops.

Coping with periods

Some girls find coping with periods difficult. It may be easier to start using stick on pads (without side panels or wings) before considering using tampons. Your daughter may need a reminder to change her pads. A watch with a timer set to go off every few hours may be one solution. suggest to your daughter that they could be changed every break and lunchtime so it becomes automatic. Encourage your daughter to keep a spare change of underwear in her bags all the time. If necessary, if there are problems, talk to her teacher discreetly.


Some teenagers may want to remove the hair on their legs or underarms. Using a shaver needs some care.  Especially disposable shavers as they can be very sharp. It may be better to consider using an electric shaver, depilatory cream or wax strips.  Someone else applying a leg wax may solve the problem. If your daughter is trying to shave her legs it is better if this is done sitting down on the floor or on the edge of the bed or sitting on the toilet seat. Standing in the shower may make her feel unstable and could lead to an accident.


Appearance is important for most young girls. A hairstyle that is easy to manage and stays neat is best. A style that can be almost “rough” dried, that is, dried with a towel, may be easy but fashion may mean that styling can take some time every day. Using a hot brush or straighteners can be useful. Longer hair can be tied up with a “scrunchie” or covered elastic band.