By Rabbi Dovid Ostroff
May a woman apply blush or powder to her face on Shabbos? Nail varnish to nails?
It is forbidden 1 for a woman to apply a coloring agent to any part of her body, when applied for the sake of enhancing herself. She may not apply nail varnish – neutral color included. All types of lipstick – neutral color included, because it enhances the natural color of the lips. 2
Blush, mascara to the eyelashes, are all included in this prohibition.
May a woman remove nail varnish from her nails on Shabbos?
Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach Ztz”l says 3 that since fingernails are painted over once they have been cleaned, the removal of the nail varnish may be considered erasing with the intention of applying more varnish, and would be prohibited. Therefore a competent rav must be referred to when this is necessary to be done on Shabbos.
How come it is permitted to eat red ice-lollies on shabbos, does it not paint the lips red?
This is a complicated matter, because the Mishna Berura 4 says that a male is permitted to eat berries on Shabbos, even though the berries color his hands and face, because it is not beneficial for him to have his hands and face colored.
One could deduce that when it is beneficial, it would be forbidden. Accordingly, when a female eats ice-lollies, her lips are colored – seemingly in a beneficial manner, and since the lips are an area that are generally colored, it should be forbidden.
However it is more likely to say that, since the coloring of the lips is done in an uneven manner, it is not beneficial, and coupled with the fact that it is done in an abnormal way (through eating and not through the regular method of coloring lips), it is permitted.
If a girl’s plats came undone on shabbos, may they be platted again?
The gemora says that platting hair comes under the category of Boneh (mid’rabanan). This is learned from the gemora, which tells us that Hashem platted Chava’s hair and then presented her to Adam. The punctuality was made on the word “vayivein” which means Hashem built, and the gemora learns that Hashem platted her hair. So we see that platting and Boneh have a common factor.
Why such a restriction on combing hair on Shabbos? What about honoring the Shabbos?
All the laws that require one to honor the Shabbos must be kept in accordance with the laws of Shabbos! Honoring Shabbos does not permit one to breach any of the Hilchos Shabbos.
Combing hair is forbidden, because often semi loose hairs and hairs out-of-place are removed. This comes under the prohibition of Gozez – shearing. Some poskim say that it is only a rabbinical prohibition, because in the Mishkan the shearing was done for the sake of the wool, not for the sake of the lamb. Others say that it is a biblical prohibition, because shearing is forbidden when done for the sake of beautifying the body. 5
 Simon 303:25.
 Applying lipstick also involves another problem of memareach – smearing.
 SS”K vol.3, chapter 14 footnote 79.
 Simon 303:79.
 Simon 340:1, Bi’ur Halacha “v’chayav”.