The Ultimate Guide to Commuter Cosmetic Etiquette

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From giving your hair a quick comb on the bus, to applying your lipgloss on the tram, public displays of application cause a lot controversy. But is it really unacceptable?

To find out, we’ve explored attitudes towards commuter etiquette, revealing the UK’s worst cosmetic commuter crimes, who commits the most, along with the passengers most likely to be offended.

A public display of application

Our survey of 2,000 commuters reveals that one in three women apply some form of makeup on public transport at least once a week, but who’s applying what, which mode of transport do they use, and which cities do they travel in?

Click on the below to reveal the most popular grooming habits, and see the city and transport most likely to do them.

  • #1
    Brushing hair
    City: Cardiff
    Transport: Train
  • #2
    Applying Lipstick
    City: Plymouth
    Transport: Tube
  • #3
    Applying Mascara
    City: Belfast
    Transport: Tram
  • #4
    Painting Nails
    City: Sheffield
    Transport: Train
  • #5
    Applying Foundation
    City: Belfast
    Transport: Tram

Cosmetic consequences

Our research also shows that whilst women admit to applying makeup on their commute, it doesn’t come without judgement from other passengers, not to mention a bit of embarrassment.

  • 1/3 women have encounted a rude comment from another passenger
  • Over 80% feel embarrassed when they apply makeup on public transport
  • 28% of people are offended by any type of makeup application
  • Men are more likely to pass comment than women

The most offensive cosmetic crimes

Whilst applying lipstick and mascara were amongst the most accepted products to be applied on public transports, there are some things that should be kept private. Here are the top five cosmetic crimes, and the cities your most likely to cause offence.

  • 1. Spraying Hairspray 52%
  • 2. Plucking eyebrows/nose hair 52%
  • 3. Spraying deodorant or perfume 46%
  • 4. Wearing rollers 33%
  • 5. Straightening hair 31%

The most offended cities

Take a look below to see the cities most offended by makeup on the move, along with the cosmetic crime that’s grinding their gears.

  • Glasgow

    Wearing rollers42%

  • Edinburgh

    Applying lipstick21%

  • Manchester

    Painting or filing nails37%

  • Norwich

    Applying foundation, bronzer, or concealer31%

  • Birmingham

    Applying mascara or eyeliner28%

  • London

    Straightening hair37%

    Brushing hair31%

  • Bristol

    Spraying deodorant or perfume53%

  • Brighton

    Spraying hairspray63%

  • Southampton

    Plucking eyebrows or nose hair62%

Safe place or danger zone

Is the tram the worst place to apply? Or is it bus passengers getting riled up?

Click the scale to find out.



What's worse than makeup?

The top 20 commuter crimes overall

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Our Expert’s tips on: how to apply makeup on your commute

To help you make the most of your time, celebrity makeup artist, Keira Harrison, from KLMA Makeup Academy, shares five top tips for applying make-up on the move.

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Ultimate Guide To Commuter Cosmetic Etiquette