Yes, I am a man and I am writing about makeup, which primarily concerns women, but I am also a father of three young girls. While this article is directed mostly towards women, it is not just for women. It’s also for husbands, fathers, and the men who (directly or indirectly) pressure women into wearing makeup or thinking they need it.
Women, why do you wear it? Do you wish you had the same freedom as men to go without it? You are beautiful without it and you don’t need it! I wrote this article a few months again but I thought it would be a prime time to finish it since Alicia Keys just said she is not going to wear makeup anymore. Let me try to convince you, without guilt or obligations, to (mostly) follow her example and go without makeup, or at least minimizing the amount you wear (hey, maybe you’ll slowly get to the point where you don’t want it anymore.).
Is it absolutely wrong to wear makeup? Probably not, but it’s certainly not ideal for Christian women. There are multiple reasons why Christian women (all women really, but objective Christian guidelines don’t apply to non-Christians, even though it would be better for them, too). First off, makeup is expensive (money that could be given to the poor), putting it on is time-consuming, it has harmful side effects, demand for it objectifies women and sends the message that they are not beautiful enough without it, many women don’t actually want to wear it, it is not nearly as attractive women think (especially in the all too common instances when too much is applied), and most importantly, scripture seems to imply that women should not wear it.
My wife does not typically wear makeup, and when she does, she wears very little. She is absolutely gorgeous and part of what makes her so beautiful is that she does not wear much or any makeup. Going without helps her look confident and genuine (and she really is those things, it’s not just how she looks). Even though my wife hardly wears any makeup, my 5-year-old daughter has somehow got the impression that she needs to wear makeup. Do you have any idea how heartbreaking it is for a 5-year-old to throw a fit over wearing makeup because “I want to be beautiful!” She has broken into our room several times to get into my wife’s makeup just so she could “be beautiful.” You may be quick to blame parenting, but I as I already mentioned, makeup is not important in our house at all. Females are bombarded with the message that they need makeup to be beautiful and males are filled with the expectation that women need makeup. Neither message is true.
Because scripture is the most important reason for not wearing makeup, let’s start there. Not a single Bible verse directly uses the word ‘makeup,’ but the underlying justification for all the verses I will mention also applies to makeup, at least to some degree or in some cases. Proverbs 7:10 talks about the dangers of a woman dressed as a prostitute. Now, don’t misunderstand me here, I am NOT saying that makeup makes women look like prostitutes, but it is a contributing factor. Stop for a second a visualize a prostitute. I’d be willing to bet that you picture her in heels, fishnets, a short skirt, a tube top or other top with very little fabric, and lots of makeup, something which has remained somewhat consistent throughout history (1). Contrast Proverbs 7:10 with Proverbs 31:25, which says that an excellent wife is clothed in wisdom and dignity. Do you ever look at a woman with loads of makeup on and think “she is just so wise and respectable!” I didn’t think so.
On a similar note, 1 Peter 3:3 and 1 Tim 2:9 both talk about women dressing modestly in terms of their clothes, hair, and jewelry. Both verses continue to say that this is so that their godly spirit can shine through. These verses are usually misunderstood to mean that women should dress modestly by covering up, but that is not what the context means at all. These verses are talking about wealth and status. Makeup, like clothes, jewelry, and expensive/time-consuming hairstyles, is expensive. We may not realize it because nearly everyone in America can afford it, but we’re also rich in comparison to most the world. Generally speaking, these verses refer to external things being used to make women look beautiful and makeup is certainly an external product that women use to look beautiful. Whether or not you agree or care about the point about wealth or status, these verses still say that a woman’s beauty comes from who they are, not what they look like. Makeup prevents your character from coming through and being seen. Don’t hide behind an artificial mask that you don’t need.
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus. (Col 3:17 NASB)
Batres, C., Russell, R., Simpson, J. A., Campbell, L., Hansen, A. M., & Cronk, L. (2018). Evidence that makeup is a false signal of sociosexuality. Personality and Individual Differences, 122, 148-154.
Bernard, P., Servais, L., Wollast, R., & Gervais, S. (2020). An initial test of the cosmetics dehumanization hypothesis: Heavy makeup diminishes attributions of humanness-related traits to women. Sex Roles, 83(5), 315-327.
Lee, H., & Oh, H. (2018). The effects of self-esteem on makeup involvement and makeup satisfaction among elementary students. Archives of Design Research, 31(2), 87-94.
Ryu, J. H., & Kim, Y. S. (2020). Influence of interest in appearance of upper elementary school student on makeup behavior and self-esteem. Asian Journal of Beauty and Cosmetology, 18(1), 17-25.
Tran, A., Rosales, R., & Copes, L. (2020). Paint a Better Mood? Effects of Makeup Use on YouTube Beauty Influencers’ Self-Esteem. SAGE Open, 10(2), 2158244020933591.