To Those Who Do Their Makeup On The Train, I Say Bravo

It’s makeup not napalm, leave the women trying to juggle personal and professional lives and their cosmetic bags alone
Eugenio Marongiu via Getty Images

The number of topics by which a woman can be judged on has reached new towering heights over the past couple of weeks as the notion of doing your makeup when travelling has been found to be a pet peeve from fellow commuters.

I’ve got to admit, some of the stories mentioned make my stomach turn, like the man who decided that the London underground is the best place to clip your toenails. If I want to get up close and personal with your long, gnarled toenails I’ll let you know - but in the meantime, your bathroom is really the best place to clip your foot talons - and that’s with the door closed.

I’m also not a fan of commuters who decide to tell their BFF what they thought of last night’s episode of Eastenders or what Shelly from next door said about her dogs latest outfit, at levels loud enough to wake the dead, but these are very very different to doing your makeup.

Now, before I go on I have a confession.

I sometimes do my makeup on the go.

I know, according to this article I’m a heathen. A selfish, thoughtless makeup beast who dains to sit on the train, trowel in hand as I unleash the contents of my cosmetics bag in front of fellow commuters covering those around me in a cloud of foundation, lipstick and eyeliner.

The truth is I don’t unleash anything on anyone on my way to work. I actually do the majority of my makeup before I get on the train - however, I do often apply foundation and a bit of blush once on the train or bus, carefully laying what I need out on my lap with a compact mirror and a small brush. Apart from getting the odd speck on my coat, my fellow commuters have yet to get anything on them and I have failed to interfere in other passengers’ personal spaces with my wildly vivacious makeup applying skills and long limbs.

Why do I commit this heinous act?

I’m busy. Sometimes I (like many other commuters) end up leaving the house in a hurry so I like to use my time productively. If I’m on the train for 20 minutes, why not use it wisely, particularly if I’m not loud, interfering with other people’s personal space and careful with my makeup?

Other commuters also tend to make the most of their time on the train, whether this is checking their work emails, texting their friends for drinks later on or reading the news. But this is not complained about despite the negative effects of being glued to your work emails (when are you meant to have a rest?), let alone your device. My choice is throw on a bit of foundation so when I get to work - I am ready to work.

As for those who do their entire makeup routine on the train (and I have yet to see anyone who has thrown their makeup around, forced people to hold their compacts for them or blinded fellow passengers with giant globs of liquid foundation) I say well done. Bravo for having hands steady enough to apply eyeliner with the precision of a ninja, and thumbs up to those who can contour with aplomb - because women across the country already have a lot on their plate. Whether they’re mums (working or not), directors of companies, volunteers or interns, given the pace of life we live in, we have enough to get on with. What’s the harm in someone trying to keep up?

Don’t stare and judge at those who are literally artists applying their makeup on a bumpy train or bus. And don’t use awkward ways to demonstrate your annoyance either, like this woman from the BBC article:

“I coughed very loudly... and she scowled at me.”

If there’s anything to say about the British it’s that we do live up to some stereotypes, we don’t dare comment but we will tut, shake our heads or even better, cough to express our disdain. Of course the woman scowled back, coughing at someone is disgusting, I hope she covered her mouth during her fit of judgemental sputtering.

If I ever decide that the train is the best place for me wax my legs, trim my toenails or blow dry my hair in your face - do feel free to speak out - not cough. Until then - leave the women trying to juggle personal and professional lives - and their cosmetic bags alone.

It’s makeup not napalm - and I won’t confront you for staring at me while you were coughing into the air we’re all sharing.