Why We Wear Makeup: A Closer Look at Shabbos Makeup


Q: I have recently heard about the idea of wearing Shabbos makeup. Can you explain to me what it is and why I would use it?

A: Today’s observant Jewish woman is a real-life Aishet Chayil Superwoman. Along with the responsibility of keeping an orderly home and caring for her family, she is likely juggling a career at the same time. Between cooking, cleaning, being Mommy, Wife, and meeting work deadlines, keeping a smile on one’s face during the Friday rush and Shabbos preparation is a miraculous feat!

As we light the candles and welcome Shabbos, the stress of the week disappears and we embrace the peace and beauty of the Sabbath. We are dressed in our best clothes and dine on delicious Shabbos delicacies in the company of our dearest family and friends. We want to look our best, and we take great effort to pull it all together.

Yes, we do it all, but let’s think what exactly we do to prepare ourselves in terms of clothing and makeup—our actual appearance. Like me, you probably have special dresses worn only on Shabbos. And, truth be told, these particular garments are clearly my favorites. As I begin the first half of my personal Shabbos preparation, I start to feel calm and serene. Then, I proceed to put on my special makeup, made for use on Shabbos.

Since my area of expertise is makeup, I shall address my most cherished topic of interest and begin with my favorite question.

Why do we wear makeup?  Ask twenty women and get one hundred and twenty reasons. Over the years, as a professional makeup artist, the reasons I’ve heard that propel women to wear makeup are endless. I can’t recall each and every confession, all of which I’ve been sworn to secrecy about, but there seem to be a certain few that have stuck in my mind. I’d like to share some of the more universal ones, and of course all disclosures shall remain nameless.

I wear makeup because:

  • Makeup makes me feel pretty, younger, happier, stylish, more secure

  • Makeup gives me that special glow, draws attention to my best features, makes my husband happy

  • Makeup hides my wrinkles, can compliment my eye color, can accent an outfit

My overall assessment on why women wear makeup is simple. I believe that wearing makeup makes a woman feel better in some way, shape, or form. Despite each person’s unique motivation to use these precious colorful gems, there is a universal expectation that is met. We get something out of it. We feel better!

For the sake of clarity, I shall make a distinction between the two approaches to makeup application: flattering and unflattering. When properly used, the goal of makeup is to enhance our overall face, accent our best features, and minimize our least favorite features.

Flattering makeup complements the skin tone, eye color, facial structure, and hair color. It’s always best to do a quick review before we begin an application. What outcome do we expect?

Make your mantra “enhance”, and keep in mind the positive energy that comes with the end result. Imagine your makeup done so well that you look healthy, happy, and radiant. That it would cause someone to ask, “Where did you go on vacation?” Again, we highlight our natural assets to make them more pleasing and to feel better.

Equally as important is having an awareness of unflattering makeup. I’m willing to share a very big tip to help you determine unflattering makeup. At a glance, what strikes you first?  What immediately catches your eye? The evidence of heavy, unblended makeup sitting on various areas of the face, or a glowing face that just looks pretty? Unflattering makeup undermines our natural beauty by drawing unwanted attention to all the wrong places. Remember, we don’t want to see a face and think “makeup”, but rather a face that just has that special glow.

Keeping in mind the reasons we’ve learned why women wear makeup, we ask ourselves:  Does this differ on Shabbos? Do we rethink all we’ve just learned? No, not at all. Our motivation, impetus, and incentive all remain the same.

What distinctly differs is the consistency of the products, the application techniques, and use of the application tools.

Shabbos makeup is made entirely of loose powder. Unlike makeup worn during the week, makeup we use on Shabbos cannot be long-lasting. This includes each and every product, including foundation, blush, eye shadows, and lip colors.

Overall, the order and structure of application techniques are very different on Shabbos and need to be understood. Further, each application tool is specific to each individual product used. (I will delve into this more in a future article.)

What are the product options available? After all these years of sleeping with makeup on our faces or scraping from our pressed powder products, the good news is that we now have another choice.

Until recently, left with no other alternative, many women have resorted to using “long-lasting” makeup. Applied just before the start of Shabbos, this heavy-duty makeup application remains on the face for over 25 hours. During this time, the foundation often falls into the little lines and wrinkles on our faces, drawing unwanted attention to what was intended to be concealed; mascara starts to flake, leaving the appearance of dark circles under our eyes; and, as the lipstick wears unevenly, our lips appear chapped and dry.

Refusing to go to sleep with makeup on my face, on Shabbos I use Rabbinically-approved, all powder makeup made exclusively for use on Shabbos. I apply it on Shabbos morning. I can reapply during the day. I can use a little or a lot. I feel attractive. I know that the makeup I am using adheres to Halacha and is Rabbinically approved.*

Even better, I rest assured that I am prepared to open my mind, body, and soul to the sacred time and space of Shabbos.

*Different communities hold different rulings in regard to Shabbos cosmetics. Please ask your local Orthodox rabbi regarding your use of Shabbos makeup.

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Nancy Beltrandi Gold is the CEO of Shabbos Shimmer, which offers Jewish observant women a high-quality all-powder makeup that is Rabbinically-approved for use on Shabbos. Maintaining Halachic standards, Shabbos Shimmer satisfies both religious and fashion concerns. Dubbed as “The Gold Standard of Shabbos Makeup”, Shabbos Shimmer is modest, yet modern, and has made women’s lives easier by keeping them from having to scrape off eye shadows before Shabbos or sleep with makeup already applied to their faces on Friday night. Nancy has extensive background working with models on photo shoots in New York, Paris, Milan and London, which has inspired her to make colors that enhance and complement skin tones and facial features of all ages.