Grooming Gaffe: Applying makeup at the dinner table

by epi on September 10, 2012

Q: Is it impolite to apply lipstick during/after dinner at a restaurant at the table?

A: It is fine to apply lipstick if it doesn’t involve gazing into a mirror, making a production out of it, using a lipliner, etc. A quick application that is over almost before it began is fine. Anything more should be taken care of in the ladies room.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Mariette's Back to Basics September 10, 2012 at 11:07 am

It is funny but this habit is a pure American one as in other continents lipstick touch ups are done in the ladies room. You certainly don’t need to apply it right away after dinner, like a last course…
Mariette’s Back to Basics


Lilli September 10, 2012 at 11:43 am

I disagree on this one – any grooming that needs to be done should be done in the ladies room. This just happens to be one of my biggest pet peeves and it drives me nuts when I’m out at restaurants!


Nina September 10, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Hi Mariette and Lilli,

In general I agree with EPI’s advice on this one, but with all etiquette advice it should be qualified by context. I probably would not fix my lipstick at the table with a group of people I didn’t know well–one of them could be, like you ladies, offended by that sort of thing. However, among my friends, no one minds a quick touch-up, and I would feel comfortable doing so. It never occurred to me that strangers at other tables would be offended by me remaining at my own and quietly applying lipstick–in general, I do what I can to make others feel comfortable, but I’m not sure I’m going to alter my behaviour on this one…

All best,


Just Laura September 10, 2012 at 12:31 pm

My grandmother has been touching up her lipstick at the table since before World War II, I imagine. She does it quietly and quickly as the advice suggests. I often seen young women applying a quick dab of lip gloss while at the table, and haven’t thought a thing of it. I think if someone whips out her hair brush while at dinner, that would be a bit much. Lipstick among friends? Not so much.


Abi Lovell September 10, 2012 at 9:59 pm

I believe my neighbor may have overheard a conversation I was having with a friend while we were standing outside, in which I made some negative comments about my neighbor. I am not sure if the conversation was overheard. How do I tell if my neighbor heard the conversation or not? Do I just act like nothing ever happened? Or do I bring it up to the neighbor and apologize?


Elizabeth September 10, 2012 at 10:23 pm

It would be best to say nothing until you know for sure that she overhead something. If you do receive that confirmation, it would be best to go to her directly, apologize and clear the air.


Chocobo September 11, 2012 at 9:35 am

I agree. Say nothing, pretend it never happened unless you have a clear indication that your neighbor did indeed overhear you. If it does turn out your neighbor heard what they weren’t supposed to, go to them and apologize profusely.


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