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  1. With so many new cosmetics on the market today the question of using these products on Shabbos becomes very relevant. Some background information may shed some light on what the possible problems may be in regards to Hilchos Shabbos. One Melacha to be aware of, is the act of dyeing (Tzoveya), which was done to color the curtains of the Mishkan[1], the second is the act of smoothing (Memachaik) which was done to finish the leather of the coverings of the Mishkan.
  2. While the biblical prohibition of dyeing is only something that will be colored permanently, there is still a Rabbinic prohibition on creating a temporary coloring effect. Therefore, cosmetics such as: rouges, lipsticks, eye shadow, and others which add color to the skin albeit for a short amount of time, are still forbidden to use on Shabbos.[2]

Bar, Liquid, and Foam Soap

  1. Some poskim hold that it is permitted to use a bar of soap on Shabbat because one doesn't intend of smoothing out the bar of soap or creating any soap suds.[3] On the opposite extreme some poskim hold that it is forbidden to use either bar or liquid soap on Shabbat.[4] However, according to the majority of poskim, one may not use a bar of soap but one may use liquid soap on Shabbat.[5]
  2. Some poskim it is permitted to use foam handsoap on Shabbat.[6]
  3. If one used a scented soap to clean one’s hands it is permitted to dry one’s hands on a towel.[7]
  4. Using Purell is like using liquid hand soap and many poskim permit using it on Shabbat.[8]

Cutting Nails or Hair

  1. It is forbidden to cut nails or hair on shabbat or sever them in any way.[9]
  2. On the night of her tevila in the mikveh, a woman may have her nails cut by a non-Jew.[10]


  1. It is forbidden for a woman to apply lipstick on shabbat.[11]


  1. Many Poskim permit women applying non-sticky powder to their faces on Shabbat, however, other poskim forbid this act. Nevertheless, all agree that applying sticky powder is forbidden.[12]
  2. It is forbidden to use makeup on Shabbat if it is lasting.[13]
  3. Putting on nail polish even if it is clear is forbidden.[14]
  4. Rav Moshe Feinstein permitted putting on ordinary talcum powder and theoretically extended it to all colored powdered makeups. In practice, regarding specific makeups, he warned that the powdered makeups may not be made with a water or oil base and could not last for a long time.[15] Many of his students forbid all powdered makeups on the market today because in practice they remain on the skin for a long time.[16]

Nail varnish

  1. It is forbidden to apply or remove nail varnish on shabbat.[17]

Combing hair

  1. Regarding combing one's hair on Shabbat, see the Getting Dressed on Shabbat page.

Braiding hair

  1. It is forbidden to braid hair on shabbat.[18]


  1. It is permitted to apply perfume onto the human body but it is forbidden to apply perfume onto clothing on shabbat.[19]

Nail polish

  1. It is forbidden to use nail polish on Shabbat whether it is a colored nail polish or clear polish as the shine adds a pleasant finish to the nail, and is enhancing the natural color of the nail which is included in Tzovaya[20].
  2. It is for this same reason, that one would be prohibited from using (i.e. crest) whitening strips. Once again it is also for this same reason that one is prohibited from using fade creams that are of the same color as one's natural skin, even if it is being used just to cover up blemishes.[21]

Blush powders

  1. While there are some Poskim who give a hashgocha on certain blush powders to be used on Shabbos, majority of the powders on the market are oil based which therefore causes the blush to be absorbed by the skin which would make it Tzovaya[22]. Therefore, unless one has a hechsher on a particular product, one should assume that all cosmetic rouge powders are forbidden for use on Shabbos.[23]


  1. Some Poskim go as far as to prohibit intentional suntanning as this leaves a permanent color on the skin[24]. [It should be noted that not all Poskim concur with this ruling, and everyone holds that it is permitted to merely sit outside if there is no intention of tanning, even if one will be pleased with the results.][25]

Makeup Removal

  1. While putting on makeup, is in many cases forbidden, removing it is permitted. However, it is preferable to be use a disposable tissue, so as to avoid questions of coloring the cloth or towel being used[26]. One should also avoid using nail polish remover[27].

Smoothing cremes

  1. As stated above there is another concern aside for coloring, when dealing with lotions and that is Memachek (smoothing). Therefore, the use of lipstick or even non colored chap stick are prohibited under this Melacha[28]. Skin blemish concealers, hand creams (Nivea, Eucerin),Vaseline, rouge creams, moisturizers, toothpaste, lotions and the like are all prohibited under Memachek as well[29].


  1. As long as the lotion has a thin and pourable consistency like that of oil[30] it would be permitted to use (providing that it is not medicinal, as then one would have to ask a shailo regarding the Refuah aspect). Therefore, one may apply most forms of sunblock lotion on an infant (or himself for that matter) as they are of very loose consistency.[31]


  1. Special thanks to Rabbi Heshy Kahn for this article.

Common questions

  1. Is it permissible to use Crest whitening strips on Shabbos? See above #Nail polish.



  1. Rashi Parshas Terumah 25:5 D"h Meadamim
  2. Rambam Hilchos Shabbos 22:23, S.A. 303:25, Mishna Brurah 303:79, Rabbi Heshy Kahn (What's Doing, Greater Connecticut, 3/3/11)
  3. According to Chacham Ovadia Yosef (Sh"t Yechave Daat 2:50), it is permitted to use a bar of soap or liquid soap on shabbat because one has no intention of changing anything. One only intends clean what he is washing.
  4. According to Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (Sh"t Igrot Moshe OC 1:113) it is forbidden to use a bar of soap and it is forbidden to use liquid soap on shabbat.
  5. According to Chacham Ben-Zion Abba-Shaul (Sh"t Or Litzion 2:35:5), one may not use a bar of soap but one may use liquid soap on shabbat. Rabbi Eli Mansour, Aruch Hashulchan 326:11, and Ketzot Hashulchan 146:32 agree. Kitzur Hilchot Shabbat pg. 74 says this is the common practice. See also Shemirat Shabbat Kihilchita 14:16. Rav Schachter (Shabbat Shiur 11) explained that it is questionable to forbid using a liquid soap since the resultant sods created as very temporary.
  6. Rav Schachter (Shabbat Shiur 11) held that using foamy soap is permitted since changing the liquid into a foam and using it since the result is very temporary before it is washed down the drain. Rav Willig (Asicha Shabbos 2 p. 9) agreed.
  7. Ginat Veradim OC 3:16 writes that it is permitted to use rose water to clean your hands and to dry them on a towel since there’s no prohibition of molid when it is unintentional. Molid is only a derabbanan and if one doesn’t intend for it it isn’t an issue of a pesik reisha. This is also the opinion of the Maharshal (Yam Shel Shlomo Beitzah 2:34). Rav Avraham Antebi writes that the Syrian minhag was to use rose water on Shabbat for washing hands.
  8. Rav Gedalia Dov Schwartz
  9. SA, Orach Chaim, 340.1
  10. Mishna Brura 340:3 quoting the Magen Avraham
  11. Yabia Omer 6.37, Igrot Mosher Orach Chaim 1.114, Menuchat Ahava 13.6
  12. Yechave Daat 4.28, Menichat Ahava 13.7
  13. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 303:25
  14. Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata ch. 14 fnt. 167
  15. Igrot Moshe 1:114, 5:27, 6:25:1. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach in Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata ch. 14 fnt. 173 is strict.
  16. Rav Mordechai Willig (Asicha Shabbos 2 p. 6), Rav Belsky in Shulchan Halevi 9:1, Rav Shmuel Fuerst (min 23-26)
  17. Shmirat Shabbat Kehilchata 1.158, Yalkut Yosef 4.2.102
  18. Mishna Brurah 303.27
  19. Mishna Brurah 125.23
  20. Shmiras Shabbos K'Hilchosa 14:footnote 152
  21. Rabbi Heshy Kahn (What's Doing, Greater Connecticut, 3/3/11)
  22. Igros Moshe O.C. 5:27
  23. Rabbi Heshy Kahn (What's Doing, Greater Connecticut, 3/3/11)
  24. Minchas Yitzchok 5:32
  25. Rabbi Heshy Kahn (What's Doing, Greater Connecticut, 3/3/11)
  26. M.B. 320:59
  27. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata (vol 3, chap 14, note 79)
  28. Igros Moshe O.C. 1:114
  29. Rashi (Shabbos 146b D"h Mishchah), Rambam (Shabbat 13:11), Shulchan Aruch 314:11, Mishna Brurah 314:45, Rabbi Heshy Kahn (What's Doing, Greater Connecticut, 3/3/11)
  30. Rabbi Heshy Kahn (What's Doing, Greater Connecticut, 3/3/11) quoting R' Nosson Kupshitz Shlita
  31. Rabbi Heshy Kahn (What's Doing, Greater Connecticut, 3/3/11) quoting R' Nosson Kupshitz Shlita
Category Topic
Mitzvot of Shabbat
Kiddush Levana - Enjoying Shabbat - Fourth meal of Shabbat - Havdalah - Having a meal on Friday - In the Spirit of Shabbat - Kiddush - Lighting Shabbat Candles - Making Early Shabbat - Making one hundred Brachot on Shabbat - Preparing foods on Shabbat - Preparing for Shabbat - Shenayim Mikrah - Kavod Shabbat - Shabbos Davening - Seudat Shabbat - Seudat Shelishit - Lechem Mishneh - Motzei Shabbat - When Does Shabbat Start?
Restrictions of Shabbat
Allowing Carrying Using an Eruv Chatzerot - Animals on Shabbat - Asking a Jew to work on Shabbat - Asking a non-Jew to work on Shabbat (Amirah LeNochri) - Benefiting from a Violation of Shabbat (Maaseh Shabbat) - Books, notebooks, and papers - Brushing Teeth on Shabbat - Building a structure on Shabbat (Boneh) - Carrying on Shabbat - Cleaning the dishes - Cleaning and Folding Garments on Shabbat - Clearing the table - Cooking (Ofeh and Bishul) - Cosmetics on Shabbat - Dancing and clapping on Shabbat - Electricity on Shabbat - Eruv Chatzerot - Eruvin - Games on Shabbat - Getting dressed on Shabbat - Giving birth on Shabbat - Grinding (Tochen) - Handling objects on Shabbat (Muktzeh) - Infants on Shabbat - Introduction to the Modern Eruv - Kneading (Lash) - Mail on Shabbat - Medicine on Shabbat (Refuah on Shabbat) - Melacha That Begins Before Shabbat - Opening bottles and containers (Boneh) - Plants on Shabbat (Zoreah) - Preparing for after Shabbat (Hachana) - Reading on Shabbat (Daber Davar) - Recreation on Shabbat - Sechirut Reshut - Separating mixtures (Borer) - Squeezing fruits (Sechita) - Speaking on Shabbat (Daber Davar) - Taking a cruise over Shabbat - Taking measurements on Shabbat - Techum - Transactions on Shabbat - Transportation on Shabbat - Going to and Staying in the Hospital on Shabbat - Wages on Shabbat (Sachar Shabbat) - Washing one’s body on Shabbat
Introduction to Melechet Machshevet - Marbeh Bshiurim - Plowing - Planting - Harvesting - Gathering - Threshing - Winnowing - Separating - Grinding - Sifting - Kneading - Baking and Cooking - Shearing - Laundering - Combing - Dyeing - Spinning - Mounting warp threads - Making two loops - Weaving - Unraveling fabric - Tying - Untying - Gluing, taping, or stapling - Ripping - Trapping - Slaughtering - Skinning - Tanning - Smoothing - Scoring - Cutting precisely - Writing - Erasing - Building - Demolishing - Completing a vessel - Extinguishing a flame - Kindling a fire - Carrying