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
Contrary to popular belief, women in Islam has been empowered and respected. An excellent example of that is the first Muslim woman, Khadijah, Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) wife, whose influence and support was crucial to the success of Islam. Through many articles, we have discussed the Islamic view on women, their social position, their rights and responsibilities, and the rulings and regulations concerning women. Considering all those details, we will see here how fair Islam is to women in comparison to men.
It is clear that men and women are different from each other in many aspects. They are physically and biologically different. Their emotional and spiritual specifications are not the same. This means that men and women are of distinct capacities, which implies that they should be charged with different responsibilities regarding their innate capabilities. And since the rights of each individual depend on the burden of responsibility that he\she takes on, women in Islam and men won’t have “the same” rights. However, this does not mean that they do not have “equal” rights, either.
Let’s consider an example; a father who would like to leave his children an inheritance. He has a farm, a piece of land and a business company. These three possessions are of equal value, but they are not alike. The father knows his children’s characteristics, talents and interests very well. He, therefore, gives each child one of his belongings based on his knowledge of their potentials. This is an example to demonstrate that, although what every child receives from the father is not the same as the others, they are worth equally. So, the father has divided the inheritance equally among the children.
This is also true about the rights of women and men. As an example, although women might work and earn money, supplying for the family is not at all a responsibility for women; neither is defending Islam and country in case of war. Hence, women are given some rights in certain conditions where men are not given. Moreover, Islam has prevented imposing harsh and heavy tasks on women, as they are known to be as delicate as a flower . It can be concluded that women and men do not have “the same” rights because of having different talents, potentials, and biological features, but their rights are “equal”.
According to the Quran, “Men are the managers of women” (4:34); but this does not imply that men are superior to women in Islam. Firstly, it should be noted that this verse is only about wives and husbands and not women and men in general. Secondly, being the manager here means having the “responsibility” of the family. Family like every social unit requires a supervisor or manager. Being physically stronger than women to protect the family against risks and to carry out heavy works, and being less affected by the emotions, men have been given the duty of protecting and managing the family affairs. In this regard, men have been assigned the heavy responsibility of providing for the family needs from which women are exempted.
From another side, from the Islamic point of view, women and men are of the same spirit, the whole world is created to serve both of them, they both can reach the spiritual excellence, and women can attain the superior social status they deserve . All these demonstrate that men have not been given any more privilege compared to women, but have been charged with a different responsibility.
From what has been discussed above, we can see that the Islamic regulations consider both women and men, and the rights of both are equal as it should be but not necessarily similar in every circumstance.
- “Nahj al-Balaqa”, Letter 31.
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