What does the Bible say about dying your hair?


I was very surprised about a year ago to find out that at least some UPC churches teach against people dying their hair. I do not recall ever hearing anyone preach against people dying their hair until about a year ago, but since then I have come into contact with other people who have heard the same thing preached. It seems to be a fairly common doctrine in UPC churches, even though I cannot find any official UPC position about it.

Since it does seem to be such a common doctrine, I have decided to write a brief article on it.

The first time that I heard anyone preach against people dying their hair was when my last UPC pastor mentioned it in during a church service. He used Mat 5:36 as his argument, which says: "Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black" (Mat 5:36 KJV). Now it is obvious to any casual reader that Jesus is not speaking against people dying their hair. He is saying that people do not have the ability to turn their hair from white to black or from black to white. That is all that He is saying, and nothing more.

I do not know what arguments other UPC pastors use to preach against people dying their hair, but I do know that there is no Scripture in the Bible that says that people should not dye their hair.

Of course, some people might think that the reason the Bible does not say anything about it is because people did not dye their hair during Biblical times. It is a mistake to think that, however, because dying and highlighting the hair was quite common during Paul’s day. Nelson’s Bible Manners and Customs has this to say:

Paul…would have noticed that many men had blond hair. A few of them could have been slaves from Germany, but Italian Roman citizens should have had dark hair. Puzzled, on inquiry he might have found out that a considerable number of men dyed their hair because blond hair was fashionable. He would have seen some brown tints too1.

Of course, just because the Bible does not explicitly teach against something does not make it right. The Bible does not say anything against abortion, even though abortion and the killing of unwanted or deformed children was very common in the Roman Empire2. Just because the Bible doesn’t explicitly say that you shouldn’t have an abortion does not mean that it is alright to do so. However, the fact that the Bible says nothing for or against women dying their hair–whereas it does say something against murder, by implication making abortion and the killing of newborn children unacceptable–leads me to believe that God has no problem with women or men dying or highlighting their hair.

  1. Nelson’s Bible Manners and Customs: How the People of the Bible Really Lived, "Rome and Italy in the Career of Paul," ed. Howard F. Vos []
  2. Ibid. []

138 thoughts on “What does the Bible say about dying your hair?

  1. John

    Dying one’s hair to cover over ageing is a clear sign of human vanity , a vain attempt to deceive oneself and others that you look younger than you really are….a clear sign that one is I’ll at ease with oneself and unable to accept and / or cope with the road leading to death…..Like wearing a wig to cover ones embarassment about baldness….its all vanity….does any of the above sound like it should show itself in a true follower of Christ ??

    1. Josh (Site Admin) Post author

      John, we all do things every day that are born from vanity. We brush on hair, put on matching clothes, shave our legs (women) or our beard, and shower regularly–even though daily showers are actually bad for our skin.

      Dyeing your hair or wearing a wig is no different.

  2. Diana Harmon

    I think it’s all a little funny in my church. I love them and respect them all but their way of thinking doesn’t make sense. A lot of the men think it’s wrong for women to cut their hair or to pluck their eye brows because it’s not natural to do so. Yet, they shave of their beards and mustaches??? And how about their wives and daughters shaving their leg and arm pit hair????? Wait, so I can’t cut my hair but your spouses can shave their leg hair? Doesn’t make sense to me.

  3. Lance

    Brother, to judge whether it is right or wrong is not our job. It’s God’s call as he alone knows the heart.

    Dyeing the hair is not wrong just as consuming alcohol is not wrong.

    What needs to be introspected is the reason/need for dyeing the hair! Why do you do it?

    What is Sin? Anything that pleases the flesh and not the soul is Sin.

    So if by dyeing you lead yourself or others to sin (and we are all mature enough to understand the reference), then better not to dye.

    Biblical verse reference is “if your eye causes you to sin, take it off”.

    1. Josh (Site Admin) Post author

      Lance, I hear something along the lines of, “Anything that pleases the flesh and not the soul is sin,” almost every day. My answer is always the same: We do things every day that please the flesh and not the soul. Do you ever have dessert? Drink a soda? Have coffee? Choose foods that taste good over ones that don’t?

      If so, then you also do things that please the flesh. Doing those things aren’t sinful, and neither is dyeing your hair.

  4. Vera

    Wow! I looked this up because I have been dying my hair for a long, long time and as a premature graying almost 46 year old I was almost hoping there would be solid Biblical words, if you will, that would excuse me from continuing to dye. However, while I feel exactly as I did when I started, that it’s up to me yet as a married woman, I have permission to abide by my husband who still likes it blonde:)
    It does say in 2 Cor 6:17 to be separate. So, if you are regularly among people who are not born again and so dead in their sin, and they have pink orange, purple etc hair, you’re a better influence if you do not. Besides, truly unless it’s for fun at a ball game or costume, does anyone look anything but weird???
    And to the other commentator, I’m sad so many people starve to death. I’m not so impressed with your language, but we probably have all met the ones who draw their breath at your choice word. However, if their heart is right with God, will they not send money to the food shelf? Bring a meal to a struggling family? To judge is to judge, Amen?

  5. Kara

    The following is not really a biblical basis for thought but rather just an observation…. I live in a county with the largest Amish population in the world. I was born and raised Southern Baptist. Have you ever noticed that what one church generation calls sin, the next, or a few down the road, embrace? In this community there are different “orders” of amish and each group has it’s own standards of living and what is considered acceptable or too worldly. Some wont drive buggy’s with rubber on the tires, some wont drive ones with wooden wheels only metal. Some think LED lights on a buggy are wrong… some no phones… some phones but not in the house… Southern Baptists used to be very against Christian lyrics sung in the way that 80’s rock was sung… Independent Baptist don’t think singing should be done from the “newer” hymnals… one should only sing the “old” songs. In almost every situation I can think of… the standards do eventually change… they just seem to be a generation or two or three behind. Because of that,it makes me wonder… how often were these “standards” really based on the Bible and how often were they based instead on man’s preferences and opinions? If some churches believe women shouldn’t wear their hair down, why do the women all have big beehives and buns that are a throwback to the 60’s? If His image meant the outward appearance and only natural…. Why do we wear clothing? Why do we wear polyester and other man-made unnatural fabrics? Why do we eat foods that are genetically modified? Why do we decorate our homes or paint and landscape them? Why do we use hospitals and cars and the list goes on… I am afraid that one day, when we stand before God and answer for our decisions and the rights and wrongs we did, He is going to point out where Satan used these “outward things” these “appearance things” to divide children of God and create enmity between us. I am afraid that one day we will see where our focus on outward things prevented us from seeing the inward hearts and souls of a lost world, lost child, man, woman. There are battles to be won but lets fight WITH Christ against satan rather than with our opinions against each other. Blessings.

    1. Josh (Site Admin) Post author

      Kara, those are some excellent points. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I’ll give you a question answer to this question:

      How often were these “standards” really based on the Bible

      The answer is, “pretty much never” :). In my experience “standards” are created for one of two reasons:

      1. A group of people who truly want to draw closer to Christ end up creating a bunch of rules to live by. They’re well meaning, but it never works out too well. The church at Galatia was too, and Paul’s response to them was that they were separating themselves from Christ. Why? Because when we try to work our way to God we’re saying that His work on the Cross wasn’t good enough; we’re trying to add to it. And separation from Christ is exactly what happens: Those groups quickly descend into isolated sects that forget the actual teachings of Jesus and the apostles–caring for the poor, the hungry, etc–and do nothing but sit around and pat themselves on the back for being more holy than everyone else. Paul talked about this type of behavior in Romans 14. It doesn’t mean that you’re not saved, it just means that you’re living your life with a giant barrier between you and Christ. In your desire to make Him happy you are rejecting Him.

      2. Groups who are trying to hold onto the past. I make a point of avoiding politics on this Web site, but I think a lot of groups in America–not just apostolics–are quickly becoming more isolated because they’re attempting to hold on to a particular way of life. They’re trying to shape worldly culture to be like them without understanding that we were called to Christians *IN* whatever culture that we’re a part of; we’re not called to change culture to be like us. If we want to see America become a Christian nation then the way to do that is by seeing people become Christians, not by trying to establish a theocracy that bends everyone to our will. (And yes, trying to put God’s laws above man’s laws makes you a theocracy; Paul told us what he thought of that in Romans 13:1-7.)

      I think the apostolic movement is currently combining both of those points. They’re so focused on trying to hold on to the past that they’ve forgotten the present. To quote pastor Tony Compolo:

      I have three things I’d like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don’t give a shit. What’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.

      That about sums it up :)

      In Christ,

    2. Jeanette

      My heart is grieved by the perspective of man, and the Lord’s perspective and his true calling in our lives is going down rabbit trails man made.

      He wants souls saved, not tormented by mans rules and principles.

  6. Jr

    The worldy concept of beauty is wrong. Putting all that makeup on ur face is vanity, its worldly. There’s nothing wrong with a little concealer and what not to look presentable, decent and clean, but putting it on to add more beauty to your self and to get approval from others is wrong. Dying your hair is vanity too. Increasing outward appearance, for who’s approval? Exactly, the World. Would you honestly consider having green, red, orange and pink hair okay? If a Christian did that, do you think someone would be able to distinguish them from the next punk rock goth band?

    1. Josh (Site Admin) Post author

      Jr, I’m guessing you’ve never done anything to enhance your appearance? Never put on cologne, bought a nice outfit, combed your hair, or took a shower? I’m assuming that you’ve never put on some fancy duds before going on a date. I’m sure that you’ve never done those things, because if you have then you’re a hypocrite. Please stop telling others enhancing their physical appearance when I’m sure you do it every day.

      And yes, I think dying your hair greed, red, orange, pink, or any other color is just fine. I don’t need to add rules to the Word of God because there are more than enough to keep me occupied for the rest of my life. I’m still working on that whole “loving others as Christ loves me” deal. You know, the thing that Jesus said would show that we’re His disciples (cf. John 15; Matthew 25). :)

      In Christ,

      1. Ann

        I was introduced to the UPC over 20 years ago. In my earnest desire to please God I followed every guideline to outward holiness that the pastor set up. I did so with great pleasure, believing I was doing this to get closer to God. It was implied at times and directly stated at times that if any lady cut/dyed hair or wore makeup then she was automatically considered a backslider and a Jezebel. Just recently I decided to trim my hair and put subtle highlights in( with permission from my spouse). I have been just about ostracized and told I can’t teach Sunday school unless I wear my hair in a bun. I have not entered into sinful behavior nor intend to-just a side note for those that”gasp” at my actions. I recently seen some ladies that used to go to my church ( who also dyed their hair). I sat and listened to fellow church members question the salvation of those ladies. . As a note: I did respond in their defense – I chose not to join in on the frenzy. My point is we serve God not man. So many churches have become judge and jury when the sentence was already handed down and the price was paid. It is important that we take everything in the context of which it was written. If the word says it is sin, then it is sin. Even if you have fallen into sin, then let the church be the church and lift up one another, not destroy one another within the safety of the sanctuary. I could write a book- I have been just about destroyed by “the church” over my hair. I am a child of God- not perfect, but never the less, a child of God.

        1. Matilda Rollins

          Praise God….. My spirit rejoiced in your stance as a child of God, despite the persecution of man and man made rules. I too attend a UPC Church and have been faithful for the past 5 years, once being an Alcoholic and heathen God transformed me inside and out but after 5 years I was told I was unsaved because I had not spoke in tongues. I was scolded by the Pastors wife in front of the church during worship services. I since like you have stood my grounds as I know I am a child of God, I will not claim the glory for my new birth. To God be the Glory in all that he has done for me!! I to have sought my husband to trim my hair and a couple tasteful highlights :)

    2. Becki

      I have red hair, like cherry red hair. I have piercings and stretched lobes. I like my eyeliner and colorful eyeshadows. Why do I do these things? NOT for the works as much as you might think. My piercings are for me, i find them pretty. My makeup is for me and my hubby. My hair is for me, if you like it cool, if not still cool. I didn’t dye it for you. I was raised seventh day adventist. I grew up being told how awful makeup and jewellery was. I was showshown. A couple years ago that SDA was a lie. I am truly born again. I still stulmbke and balk, but I keep walking with God. You know what else I do? Not judge people based on outside appearance as much. I am approachable to those people you usually make feel unwanted and therefore they don’t come to church. My style is a tool God is using. Praise God glory be to him and I pray many many souls are brought to him. I am humbled that he can use me. ♡

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