Makeup! Bad?

Should Sikh women wear makeup?

Makeup: Many women won’t leave their home without wearing it.  Others never put on the slightest amount.  It is the center of fights between teenager girls and their parents.

 The question I explore today is, “Is it okay for Sikh women to wear makeup? or Is it wrong for Sikh women to wear makeup?”

Let’s consider both points of view:

 NO. Sikh women should NOT wear makeup:

1.  Wearing makeup will fill a woman with pride and ego, thus we should reject this form of ahankaar.

2. Wearing makeup is a type of lie. With makeup, a woman is covering up the truth of what she really looks like. Sikhs should always strive for truth, and so we should not endorse lying through our faces.

3. If a woman feels like she has to cover her self-declared “imperfections” with paint, it can encourage insecurities within her. A feeling of, “I am not good enough without alteration,” may arise. The Sikh spirit should be strong and not self-doubting. If makeup prevents such internal growth then Sikhs should avoid it.

4. If a Sikh woman wears makeup, she is not accepting the way Waheguru created her. This can prevent spiritual growth within her.

5. By wearing makeup, the Sikh woman is pandering to the way society wants her to be, she is changing herself to conform to societies’ standard of beauty, not the gurmat standard of beauty. Furthermore, by changing her body for societies’ demands, a woman is giving up her control to her own body. She is no longer sovereign over it.

6. Some cosmetics are unhealthy and toxic.

7. Spending time on makeup is time away from meditation or seva.

8. This line from the Rehatnama of Bhai Daya Singh Ji says not to wear makeup. So, there is historical precedent for Sikh women not to wear makeup.

9. The historical purpose of makeup in based in lust and attraction and thus it is full of kaam and should be avoided.

10. Not wearing or buying makeup saves time and money.

11. If someone wears makeup because she is afraid that others will judge her, she is basing her selfworth on the opinion of those who don’t matter. The only one Sikhs need to “please” is Waheguru. Plus, those who like a woman regardless of what she look like are true friends.

12. This shabad also say not the decorate oneself.

YES. It is okay for a Sikh woman to wear makeup:

1. The shabads that say adorn yourself with seva and Guru’s naam are not saying that makeup and Sikhi are mutually exclusive. It is only saying that to be truly beautiful a woman doesn’t need makeup; the lines do not ban makeup.

2. Bhai Daya Singh Ji’s Rehatnama is not in the panthic rehatnama and thus it is a personal choice to follow it. It cannot be applied to all Sikhs.

3. A recent study showed that women who wear makeup are seen to be more competent, smarter, hired more easily, earn more money, and climbing the corporate ladder more quickly than their non-markup wearing counterparts. (1)

4. Unfortunately, people make snap judgments about women. (2)  If Sikh women want to take advantage of that, and position themselves in a way for higher rates of social and career success, then seeming more competent through makeup can be an option.

5. Makeup can be used as a tool, just like any other social construct (ie: clothing, language, symbols).  One woman said, “There are times when you want to give a powerful. Give an, ‘I’m in charge here’ kind of impression, and women shouldn’t be afraid to do that, by, say, using a deeper lip color that could look shiny, increasing luminosity,” said Sarah Vickery, a Procter & Gamble scientist. “Other times you want to give off a more balanced, more collaborative appeal,” (3)

The face on the far right was deemed to be “most competent and attractive”

6. Women who wear more makeup conduct more respect, trust, and affection from their co-workers. Wearing makeup increases people’s perceptions of a woman’s likability. (2)

7. There is evidence that women feel more confident when wearing makeup, a placebo effect, said Nancy Etcoff, assistant clinical professor of psychology at Harvard University. (2)

8. “I just wanna be pretty!” Said one woman.

 Final thoughts

So, if Sikh woman do not wear makeup, they will be disadvantaging themselves from a financial, social, and career standpoint? Is spirituality pitted against social advancement? Can women have both? or are they mutually exclusive?  What if one does seva, meditates, lives a good honest living and also decides to wear a little makeup during an office formal; is that wrong? Or is it that one may start off wearing makeup but as she become more spiritually wise, her desire to wear makeup fades away? An idea of Sikhi is to empower women to make their own choices, perhaps one could argue, makeup included. But is choosing to wear makeup really a choice or is is socially constructed and manufactured by the medai; a false wish, if you will?

What are your thoughts? 






21 thoughts on “Makeup! Bad?


    Very good observation on both perspectives. Having been in both situations, from personal experience, in the end, with or without makeup a woman needs to hold on to her self confidence. I have seen very intelligent, powerful, monetarily wealthy women achieve the heights of male dominated careers obtain this and remain standing boldly by their character and self respect as a human and woman.

    I was once told that I would only get a job I was interested in, only if I wore a short skirt and stockings to an interview, disliking both, I showed up in a tailored pant suit…and got the job, what a relief it was to know that I hadn’t compromised.

    If a woman chooses to wear make up, she should be aware that makeup is NOT what is going to be the magic wand in having a successful, happy and balanced life. It’s just an accessory. One still needs spunk, mind and character to deal with life.

    Life is tough as it is, makeup can’t erase that fact. There are thousands of women trying to all look the same and compete, often times when just being true to yourself and being cool, calm and collected with your grace is what pays off.

    Inderjot Kaur

  2. While all points of view have some merit (or not), you can easily apply these views to other areas. Makeup just happens to be one of the more charged, overt and controversial flavors of the day.

    If we take makeup off the table as a judgement topic, another topic would surely emerge…perhaps the type of clothing one wears, the length of shirt, the tightness of shirt or jeans, the dastaar colors one chooses, etc.

    You get the idea – the list is endless and ridiculous. The bottom line is that as human beings, it is natural to judge others easily and point fingers at everyone, which is not only hurtful to others but more importantly, is highly SELF-destructive at an inner level for the person making the judgements about others.

    So what to do? Take a good look at yourself and be clear about your choices and any implications they might have on yourself and the environment around you…that’s all.

    I happen to wear makeup occasionally and really enjoy it. I have no regret about it or think any lower of myself when I’m made up. I do realize that looking pretty is important to me…looking pretty is just fine in my books but MUCH more important is BEING pretty…which I hope by the grace of Guru, is something that I am working on and continue to work on throughout my life.

    Navpreet Kaur

  3. Gur Fateh Bhenjis! Thank you so much for your thoughts. I always appreciate hearing other people’s point of view and I think it makes the dialogue richer.

  4. I am a dumalla wearing , makeup wearing singhni. I dont think it makes me egotistical to wear makeup, i just enjoy matching my face to my suits lol

    I do wear makeup whenever I go to meetings with my clients, because I think it just helps them feel abit at ease with me because not everyone feels comfortable around a dastar wearing woman.

    I think that I look no better with makeup than I do without and I respect the choices of any girl in regards to makeup.

    Sikhi hasn’t banned makeup, at the end of the day we just have to remember our one goal which is doing seva and meditation. Being human..

    I dont wear foundation because I dont want to cover up my whole face, just some lippy and eye makeup does me fine.

    But yeah, inner beauty and strength are what really matter.

  5. I have never worn make up and personally dislike it intensely. I wish Kaurs felt confident enough not to feel the need for it.

    However, this is just my opinion. One wonderful thing about Sikhi is that we can decide these things for ourselves. I believe this is a judgment call for the individual.

    I think if a Kaur has been wearing make up, it might be counterproductive for her to stop at once, particularly on the job. If she wants to stop, it might make more sense to stop gradually.

    • Thank you for sharing your opinion. I agree with you, its so beautiful that Sikhi allows us to debate and decide these things for ourselves. =)

  6. Wearing make up is up to somebody’s personal; choice it does not stop you becoming closer to God if you can control the five evils.

    • Really great point about “controlling the five evils.” I hadn’t considered that point of view before. Thank you.


    As a Kaur, I think if you are going to wear make-up do it within reason i.e. make it subtle and actually look nice rather than smearing on a load of colour and making it obvious that you’re wearing make-up.

    When I go out to work (in a primary school) I don’t bother applying any make-up, but unless I have a couple of blemishes or horrendous bags under my eyes, then I’ll mix in some foundation with face cream (so it doesn’t dry out my face and leave a patch of dry skin) and maybe add a flick of mascara when there are meetings or performances.

    I think the problem of make-up arises when Kaurs start removing Kesh and that’s when everyone goes against it. If you’re working in London for example and you have Kesh on you face that you haven’t removed, yes some people may feel uncomfortable with it and if needs be you might decide to use foundation or bleach to minimise the appearence – which yes, one could say oh you’re changing the way you look – but as long as you’re not removing your Kesh then it’s not really a bad thing.

  8. Waheguru g ka khalsa Waheguru g ki fathe

    I think the first priority of Sikhs should be to raise children in a way that enables them to be in chardikala and state of anand.

    Empowered people make best healthy decisions. One should focus on sikhi, love of Waheguru and tell others to have the freedom to express themself, instead of saying if or not it is allowed. I say this because i have seen people take amrit merely to impress others and pretending to be Sikhs but having no insight no dedication nor respect or understanding of sikhi principles. Sikhism is a religion, way to feel connected with God and unique to everyone.

  9. 1. When I wear makeup I am not filled with pride or ego. I am filled with confidence. But if you truly believe makeup fills women with pride and ego, then so does pretty suits and colorful dastaars.

    2. Plastic surgery is a type of lie. Wearing makeup just accentuates what is already there. If you don’t wear too much and look like a completely different person, wearing makeup is not a lie but a nice way to give your natural face some lift.

    3. Wearing makeup does not encourage insecurities, rather it prevents them. If I feel like my big red pimple is making me insecure, dabbing on some foundation won’t make me insecure.

    4. So when we cut our nails, are we accepting the way Waheguru created us? Or when we wear dastaars to cover our hair? Same with makeup, just because we’re covering our face with some fun colors does not mean we’re not accepting the way Waheguru made us.

    5. “conform to societies’ standard of beauty?” What if their standards of beauty is my standard of beauty? I do not blindly follow the latest fashion trends and whatnot. I know what makes me feel good and what i love to wear, I am NOT following what society has laid out so carefully for me. I’m pretty sure the way I look is the way I want to look, not the way society does. Furthermore, I am in complete control of my body. I always make quick runs to the supermarket and whatnot without any makeup on whatsoever, because it is MY choice. Are you telling me that I’m not in control of my body just because I wear makeup? Seriously?

    6. I don’t use toxic makeup at all. All my makeup is organic. Besides, if you’re so worried about “toxic makeup” you should stop drinking cow’s milk 🙂

    7. Then so is spending time playing sports, shopping for new suits, and doing any sort of fun activity whatsoever.

    8. SHOULD not CANNOT

    9. Are we basing our actions on prehistory now? So just because historically slaves were used for labor, they should be used now? Nope.

    10. Not buying unnecessary glamorous suits or iPhones also saves time and money.

    11. I wear makeup because i think it looks nice, not because I’m afraid. I am a strong, independant woman and wearing makeup does not make me insecure, scared, dependent on other people’s opinions, etc. I don’t wear makeup in front of most of my friends sometimes and they still treat me the same way. Like I said before, I often go out without makeup and feel alright.

    12. See #8

    So that’s my two cents basically. Thanks for sharing this post and opening it to discussions. VJKK VJKF

    • Thank you for your comment! Looks like you’ve spend some time thinking bout the topic to have developed such insight.

    • No comment on your liking of makeup but let me remind you, you have no right to compare the dastar to makeup. If you actually prize Guru Ji’s crown and teachings, you would never say such disrespectful things. Stay in your limits.
      Gur fateh ji.

      • I am not comparing the dastaar to makeup in a negative light. What you just said, Manmeet, totally distorts my original point. You’re telling me to “stay in my limits” but I have never crossed any limit in the first place.

      • Gur Fateh Prabhleen Ji! Thank you for your comment. Please note that this blog is no longer being updated and has been replaced by Check it out!

  10. This is an interesting article and I was interested to read the healthy debate below the article. I think we live in a consumer society and part of this society focuses on our outer looks and personality. I do believe that wearing makeup is a personal choice. Nevertheless, from an ethical point of view, we are sold the idea of what is beautiful and what is not from the constant commercialised world we live in. This forms our judgement and we are not truly independent in our thoughts and actions. Do we truly have freedom? Are we restricted? Who regulates what is beautiful and not? We have to ask ourselves deep questions and think deeply about such things to realise we are not free and that we are mis-sold many ideas from our commercialised world. We have to fit into tick boxes, such as make up making you look better? What was the intentions of such studies? Free thinking or a Jedi mind trick?

    “I wear makeup because i think it looks nice, not because I’m afraid. I am a strong, independant woman and wearing makeup does not make me insecure, scared, dependent on other people’s opinions, etc. I don’t wear makeup in front of most of my friends sometimes and they still treat me the same way. Like I said before, I often go out without makeup and feel alright.”

    Strong how? independent how? dependent how? Why does a pimple make you insecure? Does that have anything to do with how people think of you? Why are pimples bad? Why are they not cute? The 12 points actually demonstrated the issues we face as Sikhs. We are disconnected, including myself, from our Gurus. Not fully but certainly lacking the intelligence that they possessed in their thinking over 500 hundred years ago. How can one compare slavery with Sikh values? Ego, we all have one, damages us internally and controlling such Ego is the journey we should be focused on. Studies suggested men with beards are considered more aggressive. Does that mean Sikhs men should shave? That would be a modern idea. Again, we do not follow slavery anymore, why should we follow traditions/values? Why are we being oppressed to wear these heavy garments on our heads from Sikhs? Do they want to subjugate us? Most Sikh women shave hair off, why do men not have such equal rights? Men have to cover their heads but most Sikhs women have abandon this tradition. Having money, a car, house does not make us independent. This has become the western way and we are sucked into this type of thinking because it focuses on me, me and me. Barbie and Ken theory.

    • Gur Fateh! Thank you for your comment. Please note that this blog is no longer being updated and has been replaced by Check it out!

  11. Hmm interesting. I think in GGSJ, it doesn’t say you can’t wear make up or wearing make up will do any harm, it just means we shouldn’t wear it to impress others and feel confident the way we are. Like mentioned above, we are humans and as long we aint doing stuff like drinking and eating meat or relationships before marriage etc its all good in the hood. I don’t know why some people are making it hard for women or pointing fingers, where I’ve seen amritdhari women wearing make up and they will leave negative comments. It’s all about your heart, soul and actions! and we should be encouraging to keep the sikhi roop as its beautiful and unique and we should be proud of! Instead of looking at the positivity and major points, too many of us point out make-up, its like saying to non amritdhari’s, you wear make-up you aint a good etc its accepting sikhi from your heart. I think, with clothing we shouldn’t be wearing short skirts, and dress modest, looks decent and I’m not a amritdhari but I’m considering taking amrit so I was doing a bit of search.

    • Thank you for your comment! Please note that this blog is no longer being update. Check out our new website:

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