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Manicure for Men

Is a man allowed to get his nails done in a manicure or pedicure? How much of society has to do an act to consider the act a non-womanly act? I know that in certain cirlces men get their nails done; does that make it mutar for the rest?


It would probably not be permitted for a man to have a manicure or pedicure, if the intention is to beautify himself. If the intention is only to look tidy and clean (for example, somebody with a nail disorder who needs the treatment to look clean), it would certainly be permitted.

Sources: Rema (Yoreh De’ah 156:2) rules that in places where men look in the mirror, it is permitted to do so. This is also the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De’ah 182:1) with regard to shaving body hair. However, the Chafetz Chaim (Nidchei Yisrael, Tiferes Adam, chap. 6) writes that one should not beautify himself at all (his discussion is styling one’s hair), because the concept of self-beautification is a womanly act. This approach is also taken by the Vilna Gaon (156:7), both authorities proving the point from a Gemara in Shabbos (50b).

Although the halachic ruling follows the Shulchan Aruch and Rema, and wherever a certain type of grooming is common to men it would be permitted (though it is worthy to be stringent for the opinions of the Vilna gaon and the Chafetz Chaim), this would only be true if enough men follow the practice that it is not considered “womanly.” Although it is somewhat difficult to determine, I would think that the concept of “doing one’s nails”  (manicure/pedicure) remains a “womanly” form of grooming, and it would therefore fall under the prohibition of lo yilbash.

However, if the purpose is cleanliness or tidyness, the procedure would be permitted, as clear from the Gemara (Shabbos 50b). [Even the Chafetz Chaim, who prohibits styling one’s hair, would concede that simple brushing of one’s hair so that it should not look messy is permitted. See also Shaarei Zevulun, p. 146, who points this out.]

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