Appropriate and tasteful make-up that enhances a person, along with suitable clothes, deportment and character are desirable, yet many people focus only on the external features, neglecting the inner qualities of the heart that God considers of greater value (1 Sam 16:7).  Peter urges that more attention be given to developing character than using accessories to enhance the outer appearance, “For this is the way holy women…used to make themselves beautiful” (1 Pet 3:3-5). This is a timely message for modern society where the attention is almost exclusively on the outer image and how to impress others. Attention is focused on ‘me’, whereas for the Christian we should be good ambassadors representing what life in His Kingdom is all about. 

Since early times a wide range of lotions have been made from finely ground minerals, plants, animal fats, vegetable oils and extracts to beautify personal appearance or produce pleasant fragrances bringing joy to the heart (Ruth 3:3; 2 Sam 12:20; Prov 7:17, 27:9). God instructed Moses that a special

God is a heart surgeon, not a skin-deep makeover artist

perfume be made and reserved for use in the tabernacle (Ex 30:7,22-38).  Olive oil was used for cooking, smoothing dry skin, to anoint ceremonially and when praying for the sick (1 Sam 10:1; Ps 23:5; Mt 6:17; Jas 5:14).  Mary anointed Jesus with perfume and it was also used for embalming (Mk 16:1; Lk 7:37,38, 23:56-24:1). Jezebel treated her eyes with paint (2 Kgs 9:30). Myrrh (perfume) and frankincense (incense) were two of the three gifts specifically mentioned that the wise men brought to the baby Jesus (Mt 2:11).

As Christians, we are to be the fragrance of Christ to those about us. To fellow believers this is a life-giving aroma, but to those who aren’t believers we reek of death (2 Cor 2:15,16). Christ also gave Himself up as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Eph 5:2). Likewise, our prayers, praise and sacrifices are termed fragrant offerings, acceptable to God (Ps 141:2; Phil 4:18; Rev 8:3).

See also: beauty, character, vanity.