The way we look is usually considered as an expression of our character. That’s why it concerns us very much –maybe just a little too much these days. As a Muslim who tries to lead an Islamic life, it might pop into our heads if we are allowed to wear makeup in Islam, use jewelry, perfume, etc. or not.
This question concerns both men and women, naturally a bit more women though. Here, we would like to address the issue in a more general sense; what Islam says about wearing makeup in different situations. And to give a general preliminary answer, as our opening, yes, Islam allows us to wear makeup and jewelry as long as modesty is preserved.
But let us now have a more detailed look at some specific places where the question has been specially brought up and talked of in Islamic traditions:
It might surprise you to find out that Islam particularly recommends us –though not as an obligation– to be in good shape, wear our best clothes, brush our teeth, wear perfume, and in short, to wear makeup when we stand to pray.
And so did Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) prepared himself for every prayer (Salat) since “God is beautiful and loves beauty,”  and conforming to this verse of the Quran:
“O Children of Adam! Put on your adornment on every occasion of prayer… Say, ‘Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which He has brought forth for His servants, and the good things of [His] provision?’…” (7:31,32)
Maybe this is where wearing makeup in Islam is most stressed on. Both men and women are time and again required to appear in the way that looks pleasantest to their better half, especially in their solitary moments.
It is considered a great merit for a woman to put on her make-up, wear jewelry and perfume to charm her husband , and as great a merit for a man always to look neat, well-groomed, perfumed, and dressed up in the way that gratifies his wife, even though it takes a little trouble, and even though it’s not the kind of outfit he likes best .
A man or a woman should never have the impression that their spouse is more concerned with how he or she looks to others than to them!
Here, actually, Islamic Interpretations are varied. On the one hand, all Muslims are repeatedly recommended to look neat and groomed in public . On the other hand, red lines have been drawn where an important Islamic principle is at risk: modesty.
Men are generally allowed to wear jewelry, such as rings or necklace (though necklaces are more commonly used by women in some Muslim countries), but they are forbidden from wearing any golden ornaments, maybe because Islam always wants there to be a certain line between men and women’s appearance, in the same way as Muslim men are required to wear a beard.
Women, too, are allowed to wear make-up, jewelry, or perfume in public as long as it doesn't make them appear sexually attractive. And of course, the bottom line for sexual attraction could be different from culture to culture. Several verses of the holy Quran ask women to keep a modest look in the public:
“… [tell the faithful women] not to display their charms, beyond what is [acceptably] visible… And let them not thump their feet to make known their hidden ornaments.” (24:31)
This verse mentions an example of immodesty at the time and culture of early Islam. But the rule applies to any kind of appearance or manner which is intended or is very likely, to provoke sexual interest in anybody other than one’s spouse.
According to what we said, therefore, Muslims are very much suggested to, so to say, wear makeup in Islam for praying and for one’s spouse. They are also advised to do so in the public sphere so far as one’s appearance is not in a way that could excite unlawful (Haram) sexual temptations.
- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 83, p. 169
- Al-Kafi, vol. 11, p. 165 , Al-Kafi, vol. 11, p. 168
- Makarim al-Akhlaq, p. 80
- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 16, p. 249
Finding appropriate clothes can be one of the challenging issues of Muslim women. Living in modern societies necessitates its own lifestyle, including dress code and style, which is different in the four corners of the world. If a woman decides to choose Islam as her faith, what shall she wear?
Once, Imam Sadiq (AS) was wearing a nice expensive suit. A man called Sufiyan Souri saw him in The Holy Mosque and said: “O The son of Allah’s Prophet, I swear to Him that Neither Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), nor Imam Ali (AS) and none of your forefathers wore such an expensive suit!”
He answered: “They were living at a time when most of the people were poor and in need. But today is different. Most people are living a good wealthy, abundant life. This is the time when the good servants of Allah are the most deserving to take advantage of Allah’s blessings.”
Then he recited this verse of the Holy Quran:
Say," Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which He has brought forth for His servants, and the good things of [His] provision?" Say," These are for the faithful in the life of this world, and exclusively for them on the Day of Resurrection." Thus do We elaborate on the signs for people who have knowledge. Quran (7: 32) 
Islam does not forbid us from wearing clothes in line with the society, geographical location, culture, and tradition of the age and country we are living in, but it has some considerations. First, we need to discuss them in general and then refer to the issue of Muslim women.
Standing out and attracting the attention of the people around may cause disrespect and disregard for a Muslim woman or man. Peacocking undignifies the human soul and rather values the physical attractions of the human body. A believing Muslim considers everyone, and never pretends to be rich or poor with the dress he/she wears. Muslim women are special in that field, meaning that Islam insists on their dressing in a particular way. They are believed to be worthy of their soul, their femininity, and above all, for their humanity, not their sexual attractions, which can be a cause of abuse or disrespect in society.
Peacocking is not just a matter of wearing cheap and worn-out clothes or expensive luxurious suits, but it consists of any clothing which attracts irregular attention either with its color, thickness, texture, smell, or even its design.
Imagine that you have attended a funeral in India. White is the color of mourning, and red is the color of feasts and marriage. At that funeral, you encounter a person wearing a red dress, with lots of jewelry and extravagant style. Everyone looks cross at that person. That will be a sign of disrespect for the mourners and might even cause insult and struggle in the middle of the ceremony. And this is against the Islamic culture which is against disrespect and anything counter social.
Genders are different from one another, and a healthy society needs them both, each with their definitive characteristics. So, women should look feminine, and men need to take what is masculine. However, there are clothes which both genders wear; like blouses, suits, and trousers, and nothing is wrong with those. But coloring nails or wearing makeup is pretty strange and unusual on a man, and Islam forbids that kind of peculiar look.
Wearing clothes that belong to unbelievers makes Muslims look like them; as if they are following their beliefs, commands, etc. For instance, we all know that rotated star in a circle is a sign of Satanism. They are examples of clothes that a believing Muslim is to avoid. Any sign, style, or design which might relate to the unbelieving system of thought makes that person seem to believe or appreciate that system of thinking, be it willingly or unwillingly. Here it necessitates Muslims to think and analyze the clothes they choose to wear.
The clothes that a Muslim wears must be Halal; meaning that it mustn’t belong to someone else who does not want that person to wear what belongs to him/her. The clothes of a Muslim are pure because they tidy up any sign of untidiness from that. It is neat and clean, the habit which is very much praised in Islam.
Imam Sadiq (AS) says: “wear clothes and adorn yourself. Truly, Allah is beautiful, and He likes beauty, but that has to be Halal.”
He also says: “Allah likes beauty and adornment, and dislikes looking disheveled” 
Modern fashion is becoming more and more complicated these days. The coming of new casual or formal styles might put Muslim women in dilemmas. In this case and similar occasions, they just need to remember the considerations above, besides Hijab, which is discussed in our article Hijab in Islam. Tips on the infographic of How to wear Hijab in Islam might be helpful, too.
At last, we need to remember that Islam never forbids anyone from being a person for the age he/she is living in. It just asks everyone to observe the rules of Islam and respect the community and society they are living in.
- Bihar al-Anvar, Vol. 40, p 336, Hadith 18
- Sheikh Tousi, Amaali, Vol.1, p. 275
When facing this question, I start thinking what makes people have such a question in mind, while there are millions of Muslim women working all over the world in different positions. Are all these Muslim women doing something forbidden (Haram), or are there other points that bring such questions to one’s mind?
Some points that may make the issue of “women’s employment” a challenge for people may be as follows:
Women have to observe the Islamic dress code (Hijab)
Women should keep their modesty and chastity in front of the opposite sex
Women should not be in a place with the opposite sex, where no one else can enter.
All the above-mentioned issues are equal for men and women, except the issue of Islamic dress code (Hijab); it is not that men should not observe the Islamic dress code (Hijab), but it is the limits of this dress code that differs in men and women.
The limits of Hijab and modesty and the etiquette of looking for both men and women are clarified in the Holy Quran: “Tell the faithful men to cast down their looks and to guard their private parts. That is more decent for them. Allah is indeed well aware of what they do. And tell the faithful women to cast down their looks and to guard their private parts, and not to display their charms, beyond what is [acceptably] visible, and let them draw their scarfs over their bosoms …” (24: 30-31).
As you can see, the difference appears in covering, where women should cover their beauties that are attractive to men. Displaying these beauties will have a negative impact in the atmosphere of the workplace, as well as negative consequences for women.
Therefore, Islamic rules about the Islamic dress code (Hijab) are not there to separate men and women, but to make their relationship harmless and therefore the society a safe place for all.
Another verse that some jurists use to explain that women should not work outside the house is: “Stay in your houses and do not flaunt your finery like the former [days of pagan] ignorance…” (33:33). The most important point about this verse is that it was revealed to the household of the prophet (PBUH), and not all Muslim women.
While at the same time the main point of this verse is not that women are prisoners at home, but it is emphasizing the value of women as humans who have the same material and spiritual talents as men. But women naturally enjoy looking beautiful, and the exhibition of their beauties is far more than men.
Considering other verses that guide women on how to appear in the society, we can conclude that Allah is guiding women to reach their main goal of life, rather than spending time on worthless tasks such as beautifying themselves and displaying it in the society; something that has been a culture at the time of pagans, and that we can still see these days in the society.
All the investments and advertisements on products that are beauty related and make men and women consume so much money and time using these products are meant to make them busy with worthless material things and keep them away from reaching their main goal of life.
Fourteen centuries ago, Islam entitled women to some of the rights that feminists have been fighting for in ages. Rights such as: Having an assertion or defense in the court as a claimant or defendant by using legal ways, equivalence before the law, a fair judgment, immunity of property, preservation of honor, the right to marry and establish a family, privacy, and immunity of life, guarantee of livelihood, etc.
There is even a verse in the Holy Quran that shows the importance of women’s financial independence: “To men belongs a share of what they have earned and to women a share of what they have earned…” (4:32)
In Chapter (Surah) al-Qassas it is nicely described how prophet Shuaib’s daughters had to work, as their father was an old man. Their etiquette and modesty while working with a group of men could be a great example for all women [i].
At the time of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), there were many women who used to work in the market to earn money for their living. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) not only encouraged them for their job but also taught them the right Islamic rules of business and commerce.
The most significant example is the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) himself who used to trade for Lady Khadijah (AS).
Vital Roles in Society
In Islamic jurisprudence, it is said that women should preferably go to classes with female teachers. They should be visited by a female doctor in case of an illness. How possibly could this happen if women do not work outside as teachers, doctors, nurses, dentists, etc.?
Should Muslim Women Work in the Society or Not?
Putting aside all the concepts that justify working is not forbidden (Haram) for women, it is good to keep in mind that “Allah does not task any soul beyond its capacity…” (2:286).
It is narrated from Imam Ali (AS) “Do not give a woman responsibilities that are over her tolerance, this is better for her condition, as the woman is a fragrant flower, not a chambermaid” .
Women should keep in mind that if there is no necessity (either financial, social or spiritual) for them to work outside the house, their first and most important task is to nurture their children and manage the house in a way that it becomes a place of comfort and long-term benefit for all family members.
But if for any reasons a woman finds it a duty on herself to work outside the house, then she must ensure that her home and children are properly cared for. She may ask for her husband’s assistance in this case.
The Islamic viewpoint about women’s employment and working outside the house is not negative. Women have never been forbidden to work outside the house or choose the career that they enjoy in life.
The point of Islam about women’s career is that it should not interfere the tasks that men are not capable of fulfilling; like giving abundant love and affection to their husband and children. Also, according to Islam, women are not responsible for all the housework; rather they are free to do the tasks they are talented or interested in as well as the household chores. In fact, Multitasking is a female skill!
Many women have husband and children, but they keep achieving social success! “Social success” is a poison in our era. We should be wary of the negative impacts of this term and find the true definition of success in the eyes of God. Islam asks everyone to find their priorities and act accordingly logically.
[i] (28: 23- 28)
- Usul al-Kafi, vol. 5, p. 510