| Halachah |

No Cover Up

There is no such thing as mehadrin (or l’chatchilah) Shabbos makeup


Prepared for print by Faigy Peritzman

One Friday night in our seminary dorm, we had a whole debate about Shabbos makeup between those who said it was perfectly permissible and those who thought it was pure chillul Shabbos. Can you elaborate?

There are two primary melachos associated with using makeup: memarei’ach, smearing; and tzoveia, dyeing (coloring). All poskim, without exception, agree that any beauty creams or liquids, lipstick, or makeup of any kind that contains cream or oil are strictly prohibited to use. These forms of makeup may not be applied even on top of existing makeup to touch them up. It also makes no difference if you are using a brush or a sponge, or are brushing the makeup on with your fingertips.

When it comes to face powder or powdery substances that contain no cream or oil — such as certain brands of blush or eye shadow — there is a lenient opinion from Rav Moshe Feinstein. He explains that sprinkling powders made without oil that don’t last at all isn’t a violation of the prohibition of coloring. (Products like this are what is popularly known as “Shabbos makeup.”) Rav Feinstein adds that “most of the powders that are sold as makeup are oil-based, and some of them last temporarily, and using most of them is a question of coloring.” Many other poskim, including Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, disagree with Rav Feinstein’s leniency altogether and forbid using any item that is meant to color the skin, even if it lasts for only a short while.

So despite what has been advertised by some cosmetic companies, there is no such thing as mehadrin (or l’chatchilah) Shabbos makeup. As a rule, women shouldn’t apply any colored makeup on Shabbos, including short-lasting, non-oil-based powders or blushes. But since it’s a sensitive issue that could, under certain circumstances, affect one’s shalom bayis or kavod habri’os, those who find themselves in such a situation should consult a rav for halachic guidance.

For those who have a heter to use Shabbos makeup, are there any specific instructions as to how to apply it on Shabbos?

Those who are permitted to use Shabbos makeup should be aware of the following instructions:

1) Don’t apply makeup onto a wet area, as this increases the makeup’s longevity.

2) To avoid tochein (grinding), don’t break up clumps of powder or blush or use powder or blush from a cake or compact.

3) Mixing cosmetic colors is forbidden, because of tzoveia. Therefore, a separate brush must be used for each color. Preferably, only a brush designated for Shabbos should be used.

How can one remove makeup in a permissible fashion on Shabbos?

Makeup and cosmetics that have been applied to the body, including nail polish, should preferably be removed before Shabbos, in deference to a minority opinion that maintains that doing so on Shabbos is a form of mocheik, erasing.

Still, if it becomes necessary for a woman to remove her makeup on Shabbos, it’s permitted, as long as the melachah of sechitah isn’t violated. Don’t use cream, petroleum jelly, or thick makeup removers. It is permitted to use liquid eye makeup remover, liquid cleanser, or baby oil. These products should be applied using a  finger, not a brush or a cotton ball or Q-tip, as this may constitute sechitah. It’s permitted to pour water (or liquid soap) onto the skin and then gently wipe it with a dry rag or towel, taking care not to squeeze them after they have become wet.

My lips get crazy chapped in the winter. May I use lip balm that has no color on Shabbos?

Lip balm that is similar to Chapstick may not be smeared on the lips on Shabbos due to the melachah of smearing. Even just merely placing the balm on the lips without smearing is forbidden if the purpose is to heal the lips. If the purpose is to protect the lips from further exposure or injury, and it’s not smeared, just put on, it’s permitted. Lip gloss, whose purpose is to make the lips shine, is forbidden to use in all cases.

Is there any problem with spraying on perfume on Shabbos?

It’s permitted to apply perfume or other fragrances directly on one’s body or hair (making sure to avoid sechitah), but it’s forbidden to apply perfume or other fragrances directly on one’s clothing or wig.

Which types of deodorants are permitted on Shabbos?

Spray and roll-on deodorants and anti-perspirants, scented or otherwise, are permitted. Stick deodorant are forbidden, since it’s similar to using a bar of soap, which is forbidden due to the melachah of smearing.  


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 834)

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