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    Cosmetics – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Is there a Jewish view about women using make-up?

    A. Yes, and it is in favour despite a custom in Talmudic times of singing the bride’s praises for not using cosmetics (Ket. 17a). This custom was probably a delicate compliment to the bride as being so beautiful that she needed no make-up.

    However it was an established obligation of a husband to provide his wife with cosmetics (Ket. 66b) ranging from face rouge to eye make-up (M.K. 9b). A woman was also entitled to enhance her beauty by plaiting her hair and trimming her nails. Travelling salesmen would take their range of cosmetic preparations from community to community (B.K. 82a/b).

    The only main problem with cosmetics is when they are used for wanton enticement – “walking and mincing as they go and making a tinkling with their feet” (Isa. 3:16-16).

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