Pride verses Sloth


I am having an issue with determining at what point behavior becomes sinful in regards to personal appearance/hygiene. My husband accuses me on scrupulousity on this point, but my pastor is not a good source of help either as he declares that practically nothing is sinful, or at least mortally so, except sexual sins and the habitual missing of Mass.

The issue is, when is an action vanity (pride) and when is it sloth? Excessive care of one’s appearance is vanity and lack of care is sloth, each sinful (and some claim gravely so). I understand that brushing teeth is proper care, but what about hair? I choose to have long hair because it takes me five to ten minutes each day to care for it in opposition to many people I know spending 45-60 minutes caring for their short hair (and my husband adores long hair, so I also like to have it long for him - vanity?) However people, my MIL especially, tell me how vain long hair is because to have it look nice, you have to get more shampoo and conditioner than for short hair, as well as a special oil for the ends. However, getting those things avoids the need to go to the hairdresser more than once or twice a year, as opposed to many women’s practice of going every six weeks like clockwork. I feel guilty of spending too much money on my hair, which ends up being $100-150 a year (US currency and economy). I fear that I am too vain, but fear dropping into sloth if I cut much more out.

Then there is the skincare issue. I absolutely do not use make-up (my wedding was an exception to that rule). I don’t spend 45-60 minutes putting on my makeup each morning like friends do and I don’t care when people show up or who they are, because I have no concerns with makeup. However, I buy a fancier face wash and use toner and a special face lotion (5-10 minutes a day, $100/year for skin care) to avoid teen-level acne breakouts, which causes them to accuse me of vanity. I feel like I am being far more prudent by avoiding unnecessary make-up, but they claim that not to wear it is sloth, which makes me feel like I’m caught between two sins with no middle ground.

The lives of the saints seem to inspire one to throw hygiene out the window, and the pope has spoken out about the wastefulness of our culture by spending money on skin and hair care, but the Bible speaks about proper care of our body, which seems to me to include our appearance (not previously invited wedding guests not in finery being thrown out, for instance). So with that in mind, where are the lines drawn between proper care of self, vanity, and sloth?


Whoa, it is crazy how opinionated people can be about other people’s grooming and hygiene rituals. It can really be burdensome to sift through all of it.

So here is my opinion…:smiley:

Having long hair can be a real time-saver, as well as money-saver, like you say. Fewer trips to the hair salon and less time to style in the morning. That does indeed seem prudent, and long hair is traditionally associated with femininity, and you and your husband like long hair on you, so it is fine. It is not vain. Vanity would be more like spending an hour a day to perfectly coif one’s hair and ignoring one’s prayer life and neglecting one’s daily duties.

To the second issue, taking good care of your skin to keep it healthy is not vain. Deciding you prefer healthy and clear skin over using cosmetics to hide blemishes is not vain. These sound like common sense and prudence. And the use of oils and ointments were used to similar effect in ancient times by holy people.

These are all personal preferences, and in my opinion :D, other people’s opinions should not matter, or count for anything. Your body belongs to you (and God and your husband, of course). What you do with your hair and your face should ultimately be pleasing to God and you and your husband. You are not beholden to the opinions of others, especially if they are really just trying to justify their own hygiene and grooming rituals and defending their own consciences against any compunction they might feel because they make different choices.

Full disclosure: I am a woman with long hair and the only makeup I wear is eyeliner and mascara. I follow a careful skin care routine to do my best to avoid skin problems and refuse to use foundation or concealer or powder to cover up problem skin. I also avoid heat styling my hair, and use a high quality shampoo and conditioner. So obviously, I would see no sloth and/or vanity in anything you describe about your routines!


I personally think you are reading way to much into this issue. I don’t think the definitions of vanity and sloth are cut and dry.

The first issue of time equaling vanity doesn’t always add up. Some people are just faster than others or better at multitasking. One persons 10 minutes is another persons hour.

Your long hair, which your husband adores, is in no way vanity. If you are keeping it long for him that is an awesome outward sign of your love for him, :thumbsup: how could it be anywhere close to be considered vanity. On a side note I also adore my wife’s long red hair. She also lets it grow out for me from time to time. But unlike you it takes her twice as long to get ready in the mornings with longer hair so my joy only lasts so long before it gets cut again.:frowning:

I never like to get into what things actually cost. Everyone has priorities and necessities in there life and it is not for us to judge someone just because we don’t have the same necessities. A funny story about 15 years ago my 3 brother inlaws were giving me a really hard time and wouldn’t let up on me because I drank $45 a case imported beer. Finally, one day I got fed up with the insults and nicely said to them I spend $45 a year on beer how much do you spend. :smiley: They never said a word again.

Make up is a personal choice as far as I am concerned. Men don’t usually wear make up and aren’t considered sloth so to call a woman a sloth for not wearing makeup is being judgmental. I prefer my wife to look natural as does she and she uses very little. And zero perfume. I can’t stand the smell of perfume, I have one of those super sniffers and even a drop of perfume gives me a headache.

As for the saints I am pretty sure at that time in history even the sinners had poor hygiene. All in all I think personal appearance and hygiene are well for lack of a better term “personal”. If you get up early to spend 2 hours getting ready that is your time. Now if your 5 year old has to get herself up make breakfast and pack her own lunch you might be sinning, I would probably want to steer you away from that, but it is still not for me to judge.

Matthew 19:26


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