Is it a sin (morally wrong) to engage in practicises designed to make you look better?

I’m just talking about things like exercising or trimming facial hair as examples (no plastic surgery)…

I’m confused because I cannot justify grooming oneself with any other reason than to attract/impress others - and I can’t help equating this with adultery and vanity for some reason, which I know are both wrong…

I know this is stupid but please bear with me :bear::heartbeat::bear:


Is it a sin for women to shave?

Matthew 6:16-18

And when you fast, be not as the hypocrites, sad. For they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. But thou, when thou fastest anoint thy head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not to men to fast, but to thy Father who is in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret, will repay thee.

You can substitute “pray” or “be a good Catholic” for the word “fast” as the underlying point is the same. We’re supposed to look well-groomed and not run around looking unkempt as some sort of demonstration we aren’t vain.

Exercising, various forms of normal grooming like hair trimming and nail manicuring etc. when done in moderation is also good for our health and well-being. It’s true there have been some saints who ceased grooming either as a form of penance or because they were living out in a desert cave as hermits rather than in society where they would be expected to blend in with normally groomed folks. Also, some of them lived in eras when bathing in general was thought to be bad for your health and/or was not an accessible activity for many people who weren’t rich and were living away from a body of water.

But if you are in the modern era and not living in a desert cave somewhere, then it’s normal even for people who are not interested in impressing anyone or dating anyone to stay clean, neat, groomed, and in reasonably good physical shape for their age. I do not see most clergy and religious running around looking like ungroomed slobs or wheezing because they are out of shape; one that I know who has a weight problem is under a doctor’s care to address it with a special diet as it is interfering with their ability to carry out their duties.


I think that grooming would be expected in most modern cultures and societies. Bad breath, BO, and a unpleasing continence just does not fly anymore. That said, anything can be taken to extremes. It is a case of being sensible.


I read a good book on this topic, “A Catholic Perspective; Physical Exercise and Sports” by Robert Feeney (Aquinas Press 1995).

The Church highly values physical exercise and taking care of the body, the temple of the Holy Spirit. Pope Pius XII was an avid swimmer and had a gymnasium installed at the Vatican. Surely, his primary interest was not to become more physically attractive to others, but to take good care of his God-given body, and to foster the blessing of good health.


Wow, I never knew that about Pope Pius, thanks for sharing!!!


Exercise is also a way to combat sins of the flesh. If you’re out getting fresh air and exercise in moderation, you’re not sitting around being lazy (sloth); you burn up energy that might otherwise be channeled into sexual thought or activity (lust); and it balances out your eating/ keeps you from sitting around snacking (gluttony).


And Saint Pope John Paul II regularly jogged in the Vatican Gardens and was dubbed the “fit Pope.”
He also shaved:


And made funny faces:



But I do think there’s something to your concern. Instead of worrying, go deeper into prayer. Adorn your inner heart for Him.


John Paul II was also an avid skier. (SOURCE)


I understand that Pope Pius XI was a mountain climber before he became Pope, and that there are peaks in Europe named after him from when he was a climber.


If that’s the case (and I’ve also read that it is) I’d better get out and exercise more! :grin:


As should I :grin::grin:


Isn’t exercise meant to improve overall health?

I’m overweight. I exercise because I’m attempting to be healthier. In the process, yes, I will look better but I’m fairly certain God is more concerned with my health than the accidental of improved appearance.

We aren’t called to be like John the Baptist… we are called to be a beacon of light and to attract people to Christ. Can we do that while running around with unkept facial hair, frizzy, uncombed hair and dirty, unwashed clothes? I think not! People would run AWAY not toward us.

Now what about the extremes?

Like plastic surgery to correct a slightly large nose?

Or body building for the purpose of competing in body competitions?

Tattooed makeup?

Or ‘spot training’ to make a certain body part look better?

I don’t know… those all seem to be treading a line and most towards vanity and less towards general upkeep.


Wow thanks for the fyi - I never knew such a thing as “tattoed makeup” even existed! :smiley:

How about products designed to make your face look better - ie. acne creams or face whiteners?


Oh yeah! You can get permanent eyeliner which is essentially a tattoo along your eyeline to make it look like you always have eyeliner on. You can also get your lips permanently tinted so it seems as if you’re wearing lipstick when you aren’t.

I don’t think acne creams are a bad thing as acne can be VERY uncomfortable and painful even.

Whiteners however seem to border on the vanity line.

Just my personal opinion though.


That makes sense, thanks again! :grin::grin:


Not to mention that it can scar your face if you aren’t careful.


If it is i am surrounded by a bunch of righteous people! God, thank you for not making me like them…(burp)…i think I will have another cheese burger!


I have that. It’s beautiful. I have to be concerned with how I look because I’m a professional singer. No freaky rock thing, but standards and classical singing, opera in Europe.

I don’t think it’s sinful for anyone to try to look his or her best. Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. What I think is wrong is “falling in love” with one’s looks. I don’t do that.


Very true - thanks Entwhistler :grinning:


Hahahahah :joy::joy::joy:

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