Is It Inappropriate To Apply Makeup During Your Commute?

This woman is annoying about four in ten of her fellow passengers. (Photo: Getty)
This woman is annoying about four in ten of her fellow passengers. (Photo: Getty)

It’s happened to the best of us. Maybe you overslept or your morning run took longer than usual. For whatever reason, you’re running late, and putting on makeup at home is going to make you even later. So you tote your makeup bag on the train, get a seat, and get busy. After all, you’re a multi-tasker. Well, in case you’ve ever wondered whether that person next to you is annoyed that you’re contouring your face in front of a captive audience, the answer is, it’s very likely.

According to new research by Ipsos MORI, a UK-based research company, both men and women find public makeup application to be a no-no — in fact, women tolerate it a bit less than men do. The study, which was conducted to assess attitudes toward toward grooming and cosmetics in the UK, found that 42 percent of female participants were miffed, while 41 percent of male survey takers want you to do that stuff at home, says the Telegraph.

According to Lucy Hume, editorial manager at etiquette firm Debrett’s, little touch-ups on public transit are excusable, but full-on beauty routines are just plain rude. ““Our advice is that a quick touch-up of mascara or lipstick is acceptable, but best to refrain from more extensive grooming in public,” Hume told the Telegraph.

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And it’s not just the fact that errant powder and spilled foundation are annoying and can damage clothing. It’s also an issue of public safety. “That is probably down to personal judgment but the health and safety factor, apart from anything else, would be a concern,” Hume told the publication.

Though there were many dissenters, though, there were still a fair share of participants who were not disturbed by out-in-the-open grooming habits. About 22 percent of men surveyed were not bothered at all by people applying makeup on public transportation, and a third of them simply didn’t care either way. Pippa Bailey, senior director of Ipsos Marketing, feels the divisiveness is one of the most interesting findings. She told the Telegraph, “At a time when manufacturers are innovating to create ever more compact and convenient make-up for use on the go, it appears the attitudes of many Brits still lag behind with the feeling that the application of beauty products is best kept behind closed doors.”

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That said, there’s not much argument over the motivation behind frantic makeup session on public transit. According to the Telegraph, 90 percent of women and almost 80 per cent of men agreed that women are still under greater pressure than men to look “well groomed.” “It’s still widely accepted that women are held to higher standards than men and are spending more of their time on personal grooming,” Ms Bailey told the publication.

This sentiment is reflected in the study findings, which show that over the course of a year women spend 240 hours and 56 minutes, while men spend 192 hours and 24 minutes. Women use an average of 10.2 personal care products, while men use just 6.4.

But with the traditional gender roles continuing to shift in modern society, say the findings, attitudes toward makeup and grooming may change as well. “There are signs that younger generations have less rigidly gendered views,” Ms. Baily told the Telegraph. “Looking to the future, the fact many people say men wearing makeup will be unremarkable could be a sign the gender divide for personal care will start to blur.”

It may already be starting. The majority of men and women — 79 and 81 percent, respectively — who participated in the study admit to having used beauty products made for the opposite gender. And 21 percent of men surveyed — that’s about one in 5 — feel that in the future, it will be normal for men to wear makeup. And a whopping 30% of women agree.

So men, to the next generation of women and men: while you’re minding the gap, make sure to also mind your fellow passengers, and save your beauty tutorials for YouTube.

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