Open Discussion: Is It Appropriate to Apply Makeup in Public?



While I'm one of those people who really enjoys the time I get to myself while driving to work every day, I definitely get nostalgic for commuting via public transportation during my years living in New York. Not only is there a kind of solidarity in traveling with thousands of strangers every day, but it was a hands-free experience: I could read, text, or even nap without a worry in the world. And occasionally, if I was running very late or in desperate need of a touch-up, I would break out some lipstick or mascara. 

I avoided doing this very often, as grooming on the NYC subway is generally a big no-no. This used to be an unspoken rule, but shortly before I moved, signs began to appear in the train cars illustrating proper etiquette—like man-spreading and taking up a free seat with a backpack, fixing up your appearance is heavily discouraged. But to be clear, it's not just the bureaucracy that thinks so—in fact, a new study out of the UK finds that 42% of females find it completely unacceptable, while 41% of men say that they disapprove (33% of men had no strong feelings either way, and 22% had no problem with it whatsoever).

That being said, there are nuances to this rule. While brushing your hair, doing an entire face of makeup, or the very worst—clipping your nails (NO!)—will most definitely earn the ire of your fellow passengers, it's publicly understood that quick touch-ups like lipstick, balm, or tying your hair up are just fine. (In my opinion, that's about as much you can properly do on a bumpy subway regardless.) Rule of thumb: Avoid powders, sprays, or anything else that could potentially invade the personal space of your seat neighbors. 

But it's definitely a hot debate—which is why we're opening up the discussion to you. Shop some of our favorite products for touching up on the go—whether that's on the subway or in the car—below, and keep scrolling to join our debate in the comments.

What are your thoughts on the matter? What do you think the proper etiquette is when it comes to grooming in public?