Applying Makeup On Public Transport: Yay or Nay?

Applying makeup in car

Not exactly public transport but you get the gist

Every now and then I’d read a tweet or two on Twitter and they would be on observations on women applying makeup on the train or bus. More often than not, those tweets would go along the lines of “euuwww why didn’t she apply her makeup at home instead of doing it on the train/bus??

This made me wonder … does it bother you when women apply makeup in public? Specifically on public transportation?

When I was working and living in Japan years ago, I saw plenty of Japanese women walk onto trains bare-faced and walk out with full-on makeup. It was absolutely fascinating to watch these office ladies perform their makeup routine on very shaky trains, especially when applying mascara. I’d seen my fair share of Japanese ladies work their magic on crowded trains and never once have I ever seen them make a mistake. You think applying liquid eyeliner is hard? These women applied them expertly when the trains were moving and shaking, and voila! Perfectly drawn-on winged liner.

I can’t even apply lipstick or lipgloss when the car/train/bus is moving let alone eye makeup and these women do ’em so well. Over here, I’ve seen a lot of women apply makeup when I’m taking the train to the city and I still find it very interesting to watch. Whenever I see great makeup application at work, I often wanted to ask “how are you able to do that flawless winged liner when the train is shaking so much?!

Perhaps it’s not decorous for a woman to be applying makeup in public but it has never bothered me. In fact, I’ll be that fascinated on-looker sitting across from you who are applying eye shadow on your eyes. Heck, I’ll even be the one who asks you where that gorgeous eyeshadow came from. 😉

What about you? Does it bother you to watch people apply makeup in public? Do you apply makeup in public? Are you that annoying person who can expertly apply mascara without mistakes on a moving train?

For weekly updates, news and heaps more fun stuff, do subscribe and join the awesome BA Insider community!

Join the BA Insider Community



43 comments… add one
  1. Kat Ness

    When I use to catch the train to work in the early hours of the morning, I would do my makeup as I didn’t want to wake up even earlier to do that haha.
    Kat Ness recently posted..Make It A Mattetastic SeasonMy Profile

    1. Tine

      That’s what a lot of Japanese women do! It passes time on the train quickly too and definitely hone some mad skills and steady hands with that mascara. 😛

  2. LeGeeque

    I personally wouldn’t but I wouldn’t care if someone else wants to do it. Like you, I’d be busy gawking wishing I have the guts to ask how she did her eyes and if I could peek into her makeup bag 😛 The most I’d do is touch up my lipstick, check my face in the mirror and quickly run my hands through my mop of hair to tame it. Oh, apply hand cream. I’m always doing that 🙂

    1. Tine

      Haha me too! And if possible, I try to peek into their makeup bags too. 😉

  3. Melissa

    I have done it a few times, but as a rule – no. I feel self-conscious people watching me while I do it. I know when other women do it, I always watch 😛

    1. Tine

      Oh I always watch too. It’s hard not to. 😛

  4. Saumya

    I do apply mascara and lipstick sometimes on the train 🙂
    Saumya recently posted..Chirstmas Party Look (FOTD) !My Profile

    1. Tine

      Mascara too? MAD SKILLZ WOMAN! 😀

  5. Allison

    I was shocked many moons ago when I saw a woman putting on mascara in her car while driving. And I’ve seen women applying makeup on the subway. I can’t imagine doing it. I’m cool with putting on lipstick or gloss but the rest of it, I think, should be done at home. Call me old-fashioned…
    Allison recently posted..Deborah Lippmann 99 Luftballons Nail Polish, Gift at SephoraMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Hahaha to be honest, I can’t do it either. Lippie is as far as I’d go. Still, I enjoy watching people apply makeup on the train. Oh yeah, I’ve seen one apply mascara when her car was stopped at an intersection. What what? 😛

  6. Dawn

    I feel too self-conscious to apply makeup when I’m in public. The most I’d go for is a quick swipe of lipstick or a check if my eye makeup has smudged with a mirror. Perhaps its also the thought of, oh no what if I’m in the midst of applying mascara and the train moves! Then I’ll get mascara on my eyelid, in front of everyone! 😀 Like majority of us, it doesn’t bother me when other ladies apply make-up on the train/bus.. I’ll be curiously making side glances to see what products shes using as well!

    1. Tine

      Haha me too! I definitely do not have the skills to apply mascara on the train. That’s for the highly skilled commuters! 😛

  7. Nicola cann

    Hey! I read your blog almost every day but so rarely post a comment!
    I put my full face of make-up on the bus on the way to work 5 days a week 🙂 I start work at 7am and I like the extra sleep I get if I do it on the bus 🙂 I pack my make up bag the night before, picking out eye-shadow and blush and sometimes switch out other products, then it takes me about 30min on the bus to go through from primer to eye-liner and mascara before I get off the bus, put my hair in a bun or pony and then I’m ready to go for the day 🙂 I don’t even really notice if people look at me!

    1. Tine

      Yay thanks so much for commenting! Comment more next time! 😀

      I bet those people who notice you are fascinated at the process. You’re using that 30 mins well!

  8. Asha

    Ye gads no! Always weirds me out when I see other women doing it on the tram cuz I stare at them like a skeezy perv so wouldn’t that to happen to me. However, those rules do not apply to lipstick touch-ups!

    Here’s another yay or nay question – As much as I love my heels, trekking about the city in 5inchers is sheer insanity! I’m just wondering if I’m the only one who totes my heels around and swap them out for flats when I have meetings?

    1. Amy

      I do the reverse. I wear comfortable walking shoes to work as I take public transport. I wear flat shoes at work during normal daily activities (another male colleague wears black slippers that look like real shoes under his long pants at work) and keep a pair of heeled shoes for meetings with other agencies or external clients or work events.

    2. Tine

      Nah not at all. I’m sure a lot of women do it too. Personally, I think bringing your feels with you and then swap them out for flats is better than wearing trainers with your work clothes. I see that so often on trains and at train stations. Surely flats would look better??

  9. Amy

    I was watching a Korean talk show ‘Happy Together” where a female comedian filmed how she applies her makeup while in a car on her way to work. She stuck one of those suction mirrors on the car window on the passenger’s seat. The trick is to apply eyeliner, eyebrow liner and mascara which needs precision only when the train stops or if in a car, when it stops at traffic light. All the rest of makeup can be done while the vehicle is moving.

    1. Amy

      If you are curious on how she does it, you can watch the interview on youtube –

      It has eng subtitles. The makeup application in car is from 34:23 until 37:30

      I just realised she used one of those mobile phone holder to hold a mirror. 🙂

      1. Tine

        Ooooh thanks for the video, I’m going to check out now.
        It’s actually illegal in Victoria (I’m not sure the rest of Australia) for women to apply makeup when the car stops at the intersection. 😛

        1. Amy

          I have to specify that she was applying makeup in the car as a passenger.her manager was driving car.Safety And road awareness first ^^

          1. Tine

            Ahhh good to know! 🙂

  10. sataa

    I will personally not do that because I am sure I will end up looking like a clown but if someone is applying making on a public transport it will not bother me I will be totally O.k with that 🙂
    sataa recently posted..RIP… Our Little Angels 🙁My Profile

    1. Tine

      Hahahaha me too! When the train stops, wheeee there goes the lipstick. Across the cheek!

  11. Angie

    It doesn’t bother me if other people apply on public transport but I could never do it myself, the results would be hilarious… and I’d be likely to lose an eyeball to a mascara wand.
    Angie recently posted..Best of the BoldsMy Profile

    1. Tine


      1. Angie

        Bahahahahah that’s gold!! Although the pictures from those stories would be a bit stomach-turning, no one wants to see a loose eyeball hehehe 🙂
        Angie recently posted..The Look: Xmas Picnic in the ParkMy Profile

  12. Angie

    I certainly don’t see a problem with women applying makeup on the train. Sure, if it’s absolutely packed with people, but I’ve done it a lot and I would much rather my fellow passengers apply makeup than play super loud music or eat smelly food! I don’t think it’s hurting anyone! I’ve been known to apply false lashes on the train too! I guess I’m one of those annoying people that has it mastered down to a fine art!
    Angie recently posted..Day 21: 25 Days Of Giveaways – Dr Bronner’s Christmas Peppermint Gift PackMy Profile

    1. Tine

      False lashes on the train? *bow* Oh Master!! *bow again*

  13. Fei

    I have no problems with girls applying makeup on public transport, and I don’t understand how some people would find it off-putting. I mean, clipping or filing your nails, applying nail polish – BIG no-no. But applying foundation, bronzer, blush, mascara, eyeshadow, lipstick is pretty harmless. However I always do my eyeliner, mascara, mineral foundation at home because it can get messy on a moving train, and I don’t want to carry a 2kg makeup bag lol!

    1. Tine

      OMG it shits me big time to see people clipping their nails on the train. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I liken it to digging your nose in public. What’s worse is that all those clippings fly everywhere! >.<

  14. gio

    It doesn’t bother me at all, but I could never do it. I’m sure I’m make a mess and look ridiculous!
    gio recently posted..New Holiday 2014 Collections: Catrice Viennart & Kiko Bad Girl?My Profile

    1. Tine

      Me too. Can’t even do eyeshadow. 😛

  15. Hexia

    I don’t apply makeup regularly but when I’m going out via public transport I do usually do it on the train, I’m too darn lazy to do it beforehand. I’ve done concealer, eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara (though i did get it on my eyeliner) and lippie of course.

    I don’t know why anyone would be creeped out by it, I think that’s really rude of them. If you don’t like it, stare at something else jerk. When makeup first became a mainstream thing (1920’s?) it was a fashionable thing to sit down outside and apply lipstick or powder your face. I don’t really consider it indecorous, I mean it’s just makeup it’s not like I’m changing clothes in here.

    1. Tine

      I watched a video from Lisa Eldridge once where she was talking about women and makeup long long ago and she said that back in the day, it was considered incredibly sexy and alluring for a woman to whip her lipstick out in public and apply it. We should embrace it too! I definitely wouldn’t be creeped out; in fact, I’d be most fascinated! I once watched a woman apply bright red lippie (along with lip liner) perfectly, even when the train bumped at a particular station. I think my mouth went :O when I saw those impeccable lines.

  16. MonicaP

    If you’re doing a full face of make-up .. cheeze, get up earlier hon. But touch ups .. perfectly fine. I always re-apply lipstick and/or gloss after eating at the table or where ever I am if my lips are parched.

    MonicaP recently posted..Holiday StressMy Profile

    1. Tine

      But more sleep! It’s gold! 😛 😛 😛

  17. Lynne

    I absolutely agree with Fei – having women apply makeup on public transport hurts no one; it’s not like it emits any noises or foul odours or leaves behind gross body parts so how is it any different from, say, reading or texting? I hardly wear makeup (only bb cream and some light powder) so I don’t really do it on public transport, but when I do, I don’t really care if people stare. And I certainly like it when other people are applying makeup, cos it means I get to check out (surreptitiously of course) the products and techniques they are using, which is always fun! It’s like a free, live tutorial!

    1. Tine

      HAhaha I know right? Why watch YouTube, it’s live right in front of you! 😀

  18. Rebecca B. Bird

    I don’t care if other people do it, but I avoid applying my own makeup on the subway because people stare and it creeps me out! Other grooming habits, on the other hand… flossing, nail clipping = ew.
    Rebecca B. Bird recently posted..Weekly Poll | It’s the most wonderful time of the year… to watch movies!My Profile

    1. Tine

      I once had a freaking nail fly over and hit me because someone in front of me was clipping her nails on the train. I won’t lie, I was feeling mighty stabby at that point.

  19. Rae

    Haha, that’s definitely a ‘yay’, anything that can save time is a yay for me. Unfortunately, I can only put on two things while in transit: foundation and blush. All else, no can do. Screw those tweets! 😛

    What I don’t like being done in public is combing hair. Hair fall… Everywhere. No no no.
    Rae recently posted..Kick-off: The Toss or Keep SeriesMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Omg speaking of hair, I was sat at the back of this lady who kept tossing her long ponytail back and forth. We were on the train and it was quite a stuffy carriage. She didn’t only drop hair on me; her hair had this pungent smell of goodness-knows-what and the added stuffiness in the train made me really nauseas. Short hair combing, okay. Long hair swishing and combing and goodness knows what else? Erm, no.

Leave a Reply

Share your latest blog post with us!

Scroll To Top

Not another bloody pop-up! I know. But now that I've gotten your attention (because this is how I roll *ahem ahem*), come join the BA Insider community! Sign up for a weekly newsy letter for your beauty and lifestyle fix. Straight to your inbox.

Because I love you for reading this and not closing the pop-up just yet, you'll also receive a FREE Skincare Cheat Sheet where I share some of my tips for taking better care of your skin. Let's keep that gorgeous mug of yours glowing!

We hate spam as much as baked beans. We also won't share your details with anyone because we're selfish like that.