What does the Bible say about makeup? Is it wrong to want to alter or enhance our appearance through the use of a little mascara or blush? It’s been an age-old question that has many women and young girls confused, oppressed, and shamed for wanting to look beautiful. I view makeup as a tool. And like any tool, it depends on how it’s used and the intentions within my heart.
I am 100% a girly girl. I’ve always loved fashion, makeup, and hair. Wearing a certain shade of eyeshadow, a cute top can accentuate the natural beauty God gave me. I always want to look my best but growing up I was given mixed messages from both men and women about my makeup, style, and dress.
One particular conversation comes to mind when a pastor’s wife pulled me aside as a new youth coming to church on Wednesday nights told me that makeup is the devil’s way of young girls getting the wrong attention. At the time, I had only used concealer and mascara. I was told because I used makeup and highlighted my hair, I looked like a prostitute instead of a fresh-faced teenage girl. This was the first of many confusing messages I received as a young woman. Either my makeup made me look too grown up, seductive, or not feminine enough.
Later, when I met my husband, he taught me just how beautiful I am without makeup, cute hair, or fancy clothes. His favorite thing is when I wear makeup with a messy bun and a t-shirt. To make an effort is a way to show him I love him. On the flip side, this is the same man who loves seeing me in my natural art form when we work out, run early morning errands, or go hunting. My husband taught me to view myself through the lens of God who created me with us care and wonder. I learned my identity isn’t in the right shade of foundation, but my identity is firmly found in my Creator God.
The point? No matter how women apply makeup or wear clothes, we live in a culture that criticizes women. Gendered expectations around appearance vary drastically from church to church or community to community depending on the culture. But the data shows that, regardless of the environment, women face more scrutiny than men about how they look and what they wear. One study found that on average women spend about 3276 on grooming whereas men will spend 1,092. The additional amount of time equates to ten full working days. That’s a lot of extra time and energy to put into something that is supposed to make us feel better about ourselves. But it can often lead us astray.
Is it a Sin to Wear Makeup?
Some Christians believe it is wrong for women to wear makeup, citing passages that seem to prohibit it. These people also believe a woman shouldn’t braid their hair nor wear anything but skirts or dresses. While we want to live our lives in a way that respects and honors God, we must be careful our views and opinions that do not go beyond the Word of God actually says. It is a sin to teach man-made ideas as commands from God (Mark 7:7).
A glance as the nearest magazine rack is likely all the evidence you need to know our culture values beauty, seduction, and a charm over godliness. But it’s not just our culture. Women have been altering their appearance since the beginning of time when Eve along with her husband covered their bodies with leaves.
In fact, the first use of makeup can be traced back to 7,000 years ago with the ancient Egyptians. Archeologists have even found canisters of makeup in tombs. Researchers think Cleopatra used lip color created from ground carmine beetles for hue.
Photo Credit: © Getty Images/jacoblund
What Does the Bible Say about Makeup?
Biblically speaking, we can find a few passages about beauty rituals and makeup. When Esther entered the palace, she went through a year-long beauty ritual for purification and cosmetics.
Each young woman’s turn came to go in to King Ahasuerus after she had completed twelve months’ preparation, according to the regulations for the women, for thus were the days of their preparation apportioned: six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with perfumes and preparations for beautifying women (Esther 2:12, NKJV).
The NIV translates the passage as:
Before a young woman’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics.
When it comes to how women adorn themselves, there are few verses about makeup or cosmetics. The passages we do find are warnings and words of wisdom to remind us God doesn’t care about our outward appearance but what is within our hearts. We would do well to remember Proverbs 31:20, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”
The passages we do find (1 Timothy 2:9-10, Jeremiah 4:30, 1 Peter 3:3-4) have one common thread, it’s the intent of why we adorn ourselves in the first place. We find that God isn’t opposed to women looking beautiful. We find God is opposed to women looking seductive and worldly.
Having the Right Intentions
To answer the question ‘what does the Bible say about makeup,’ we need to address the intention behind the use of makeup. What intentions do you have when you get dressed for church, the gym, or work? What thoughts run through your mind when you’re planning a night out with your friends? Are you dressing to impress others or is your identity found in God? We must remember where our true identity lies. Our worth is found in Christ. When we forget, we leave ourselves open to believing the lies of the world: “I’m ugly without makeup.” “I’m not pretty enough.” “I’m not as pretty as her.” God also crafted our heart in His likeness. He wants our identity, confidence, and security to come from the foundation as His daughter—not how we enhance our looks. As the scripture states, God “looks at the hidden person of the heart”, and that is “very precious in the sight of God.”
As cliché as it sounds, God does care about your outward appearance, but He cares about your heart more. He carefully crafted and wove you together in your mother’s womb. He took care to create your eye color, the hue of your hair, and even planned how you would look right down to the very placement of your freckles.
When we put on makeup, we need to careful that it doesn’t become an idol. Scripture warns us that we should never focus so much on the outside appearance at the cost of neglecting our insides. When we do—it leads to more believe more lies, creates self-worth issues, and more sin.
1 Peter 3:3-4 “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
1 Corinthians 6:12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but I will not be mastered by anything.”
Ephesians 3:17-19: “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
As daughters of God, we are free to wear makeup so long as we do so with pure motives. Always remember God cares so much about the beauty of your soul. He wants us to dress ourselves in His love and character so that we reflect Him. Ultimately, we are His masterpieces—His creations. He is the ultimate artist who fashioned us and called us, “very good.”
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/zGel
Heather Riggleman is a believer, wife, mom, author, social media consultant, and full-time writer. She lives in Minden, Nebraska with her kids, high school sweetheart, and three cats who are her entourage around the homestead. She is a former award-winning journalist with over 2,000 articles published. She is full of grace and grit, raw honesty, and truly believes tacos can solve just about any situation. You can find her on GodUpdates, iBelieve, Crosswalk, Hello Darling, Focus On The Family, and in Brio Magazine. Connect with her at www.HeatherRiggleman.com or on Facebook.