Mind your manners: The right etiquette for primping in public

In an etiquette seminar I attended, the speaker said, “You don’t mind your manners because you think you’re better than everyone else; you do it because you care enough to be considerate of other people”. There are obvious taboos to public primping, like picking your nose, but have you ever wondered whether it's okay to retouch your lipstick at the restaurant table or spritz on fragrance while sitting at your office desk? Here are some easy to remember guidelines on what not to do when grooming outside the house.

If it would make things fly, don’t do it!

This involves any activity that’ll make parts of you or your bodily fluids fly off. Literally.

Don’t clip or file your nails, pop a zit, comb or pluck your hair, dust off dandruff, and lastly - for the love of everything you hold dear - DO NOT floss in public. Your nail clippings, dandruff, or zit goop could end up landing on people near you!

If you absolutely must do these things outside the house, do it in the powder room, farther than an arm’s length from anyone, but more preferably when you’re alone. And always clean up after yourself; it's unsightly to find someone else's hair strands in the sink, so don't leave yours behind.

If it could make other people feel alienated, don’t do it!

For many of our moms and grandmas, primping while at the dinner table is an absolute no-no. I believe this is rooted in the fact that it can make people feel alienated. As much as possible, we should avoid retouching makeup in the same way we try to avoid using our cellphones while in the company of others, and especially while eating.

Many say it’s ok to reapply lipstick or lip gloss in public if you can do so without a mirror, because the latter could feel like a wall between you and the people you’re with. If you can’t, excuse yourself and go to the ladies’ room.

Taking consideration of the social setting and the people you’re with could also clue you in on what to do. If it’s a formal gathering or if you’re among more mature people who are particular with decorum, avoid any primping activity in their presence. But if you’re hanging out with makeup-loving friends, by all means, bring out that lipstick!

Be scent-sitive

The other day, I shared an elevator ride with a lady who thought that it was a good idea to take out her perfume and spray copious amounts of it on herself. Scents don’t annoy me as much as it annoys my allergy sensors. The 14-floor trip felt like a lifetime as my nose began running. By the time I was on the ground floor, it was sneeze-fest!

I am not alone in this. In a study by the University of West Georgia, they found that 30.5% of people are sensitive to scent. So if you’re in a room with 10 people, 3 of them would probably find your perfume irritating!

If you really need to reapply perfume, don’t do it in a small enclosed space shared with other people. It might also be best to look for a roller ball version of your perfume for the purpose of re-application in public, as it’s less likely to cause nasal assault compared to spritzers.

Lastly, a note on primping in the ladies’ room

Be aware of the people around you. If you’re powdering your nose or retouching your lipstick and someone leans in to wash their hands, don’t make them wait until you finish—move aside! Washing hands don’t take too long. You can always continue re-applying your make up afterwards.

What public grooming activity bother you the most? Please share in the comments!