There are some church groups that hold that it is a sin to wear makeup. There are a few reasons given for this, first that whenever make up is mentioned it is in a negative light and second that the woman using makeup were doing it to seduce men. One of the biggest examples typically given is the story of Jezebel. The reasoning is that Jezebel put on makeup. Lets look at the story and see what the Bible reads.
2 King 9:30-33
30 When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it. And she painted her eyes and adorned her head and looked out of the window. 31 And as Jehu entered the gate, she said, “Is it peace, you Zimri, murderer of your master?” 32 And he lifted up his face to the window and said, “Who is on my side? Who?” Two or three eunuchs looked out at him. 33 He said, “Throw her down.” So they threw her down. And some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses, and they trampled on her.
Jehu had just killed Ahaziah, the king of Judah. Soon afterwards he goes unannounced to Jezebel’s home to kill her. Jezebel heard that Jehu had just killed king Ahaziah and when he showed up at her house, she got ready just as any woman would, most especially a princess when receiving company; especially male company. Keep in mind at this point she has no idea what Jehu’s intentions are, but she is cautious and looks out her window and asks him if he comes in peace. Jehu then asks her faithful eunuchs to take sides and throw her out the window.
What we gather from this story is that Jezebel was going about her day, when an unexpected guest, Jehu arrives. The story then describes her getting ready, putting on her makeup on, doing her hair, and going to look out her window. There is nothing here in the scriptures stating that wearing makeup is wrong, only a story describing a woman getting ready to receive company. If we are to say that makeup is wrong because Jezebel wore makeup, we must also use the same logic of guilt by association to say that doing ones hair and looking out of windows is also wrong.
There is another instance used against makeup in Jeremiah 4:30, which describes how a woman is behaving and how she is dressing.
30 And you, O desolate one, what do you mean that you dress in scarlet, that you adorn yourself with ornaments of gold, that you enlarge your eyes with paint? In vain you beautify yourself. Your lovers despise you; they seek your life.
If we are to use this scripture to say that wearing makeup (or jewelry) is wrong, then we must also make rules against wearing scarlet and beautifying ones self. When you read this entire chapter, the context of this scripture is about Jeremiah speaking about Jerusalem itself and not an actual woman. He is depicting Jerusalem who is trying to make itself beautiful to its lovers (old allies), but its efforts are in vain because their allies see through their attempts to look beautiful, when their hearts are filled with ugliness, sin and an unwillingness to repent. Wearing makeup and jewelry was perfectly acceptable during this time, so this scripture is not about wearing makeup, jewelry, wearing red, but how vain and useless to try and beautify ones self when the inside is filled with sin.
Lets look at another scripture used against wearing makeup in Ezekiel.
40 They even sent for men to come from afar, to whom a messenger was sent; and behold, they came. For them you bathed yourself, painted your eyes, and adorned yourself with ornaments. 41 You sat on a stately couch, with a table spread before it on which you had placed my incense and my oil. 42 The sound of a carefree multitude was with her; and with men of the common sort, drunkards were brought from the wilderness; and they put bracelets on the hands of the women, and beautiful crowns on their heads.
In this passage, there are several things that this sinful woman is doing and not just makeup that can be perceived as wrong or sinful if we are to say that wearing makeup or jewelry is a sin. We would need to say that bathing is a sin, along with sitting on a nice couch with a feast spread out before you.
What we are looking at is the sin of the heart and how these people were behaving. Certainly it can’t be sinful to bath or sit on a nice couch, so why should wearing makeup be? The primary argument used for makeup is that harlots use makeup as a way to seduce men. If we are to use that argument, then anything used to beautify oneself must also be a sin; this could include scented soaps, perfumes, oils, scented lotions, doing your hair, any type of adornment including watches, ribbons, bright colors, nice clothes, and the list could go on down a terrible slippery slope.
People often want to take make a thing sinful through guilty association, but we run into many problems doing this. For instance, it comes from Egypt so it is sinful. Many things have come from Egypt such as working with metals, body lotions and oils, even tooth care such as toothpaste and mouthwash. This is why it is important to understand that a “thing” does not make us sin or sinful, it is our hearts that makes us sinful. We can have all the “right stuff” according to our standards, but if ours hearts are not right and we have no love, it doesn’t matter to God.
“it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”
1 Samuel 16:7
the Lord said to Samuel, Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance,but the Lord looks on the heart.
Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.