Bible Question:

Is tanning wrong in any way if you do it in the sun or by using lotions?I ask because I know the Bible says “we are fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). I mean, its not like God made a mistake and made me too white. So, should I just ignore the trends and stick to Psalm 139:14? What about make-up?

Bible Answer:

The Bible says nothing negative or positive about tanning, lotions, or make-up, but it does give us a principle to follow. The principle is found in 1 Peter 3:3-4. The principle is addressed to Christian women.

Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. (NASB) 1 Pet. 3:3-4

In this passage God calls women to be concerned more about their inner spiritual attractiveness than their external appearance. It is easy for both men and women to become preoccupied with their external looks and forget about the God who gave them their physical appearance. This does not mean that God intends for us to ignore how we look after a long night’s sleep, to leap out of bed, and live in our pajamas all day without combing our hair. God never says anything negative about handsome men or beautiful women. He made them that way.

We have all observed beautiful women and handsome men who are controlling, angry, full of hate, and full of revenge. Some murder, steal, swear, gossip, argue, and slander others. A beautiful present wrapped with bows and colorful paper does not mean that the candy on the inside is free from worms, poison, or mold. The same is true with externally beautiful and handsome people. But we should add quickly that there are externally beautiful and handsome people who are spiritually “beautiful and handsome” on the inside also.

We should add that the medical profession currently discourages us from using tanning salons and from being exposed to the sun for long periods of time in order to obtain a tan. Both of these can cause cancer.


God wants us to look our best, but we should be preoccupied with Him and our inner spirituality. The closing passage to 1 Peter 3:3-4 reveals what God is looking for:

To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. (NASB) 1 Pet. 3:8-9

Suggested Links:

Does Deuteronomy 22:5 mean that women should wear dresses?