In this article I first want to establish that the Bible does indeed command modesty and then from there I want to discuss whether or not make-up can be considered modest.
2 Corinthians 3:2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:
We as believers are a letter that is read by everyone that sees us. That speaks of both our love and behavior towards others, but also our appearance. Our appearance with our hair, jewelry, make-up and clothing impact the letter that people are reading as they watch our lives.
Philippians 4:5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
The word moderation is quite an encompassing word. It speaks of modesty, but also of humility, kindness, gentleness, care, concern, mildness, etc. It speaks both of our behavior and our appearance. In case you are questioning whether the Bible discuss our appearance and whether God cares at all about it here are several references. 1 Timothy 2:9 tells sisters to wear modest clothing and the wording he uses in Greek speaks specifically of a long dress or skirt. 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 teaches that women should have long hair and men should have short hair.
So, going back to the title of this article, the Bible commands modesty and therefore, we ask the question, is make-up modest or immodest? It might seem like an absurd question to some, but we should judge all things according to the Scriptures. In the Old Testament there are three references to make-up and each are directly tied to the behavior of a prostitute or a proud pagan queen. (Read Jeremiah 4:30, Ezekiel 23:40 and 2 Kings 9:30)
Notice what the Encyclopedia Americana states in 1956 regarding make-up.
“The last two decades have seen make-up progress from its early
category of woman’s conceit to become an art and an integral part of feminine
beauty and psychology. Chief credit for this about-face in the acceptance of
widespread use of cosmetics should go to the motion picture industry, which
set new standards of beauty and…brought new products and principles of
application and use to the world’s women” (Encyclopedia Americana, Vol. 18,
1956 Edit., p. 157).
Historically make-up was looked at as an item of vanity and not something a godly woman would wear. Notice, what the Scriptures state about vanity.
Psalms 39:5-6 Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah. 6 Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.
The purpose of make-up is to improve your appearance and to cover up what God has given you. Often you will hear a woman say, “I’m putting on my face.” “Put on” means a deception or a hoax. While we understand that most women are not wearing make-up to be in rebellion against God and that most women are simply doing what everyone else does to make them feel better we aren’t condemning you to hell, but what we do ask is that you examine the origins of make-up, search the Scriptures and prayerfully consider what has been said regarding make-up. I also request that you go further and read the booklet that I’m linking to here below. It goes into the details and history of make-up. It is a thoroughly done work.