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Dabbing on some makeup at the dinner table...

You're sitting in the dining room of a wonderful busy restaurant and suddenly your dining companion pulls out her makeup case and begins freshening her face...Is this proper behavior in the middle of dinner?...should she be taking this to the ladies room?

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  1. Yes, she should take it to the ladies room.

    1. I've read that, when amongst close friends or family, at a non-highend restaurant, it's ok to apply lipstick, without a mirror, at the table. That said, it's not something I'm inclined to do.

      1. i don't really care one way or the other(and don't do this myself) but my mentality is that if you wear makeup to highlight your features and look pretty natural, applying makeup at the table only draws attention to the fact that you are wearing makeup...aren't we all basically trying to say "look at how naturally beautiful i am!"?

        1. It is nothing I would want to watch, much less have someone watch me do in public.

          1. Absolutely take it to the ladies room, if it's anything more than lipstick (which can usually be applied without looking in a mirror, although my mother always pulls out a pocket mirror to apply - but she's my Mom so I forgive her. <g>)

            1 Reply
            1. re: LindaWhit

              I'm admittedly pretty bad at makeup in general -- but for the record, I don't think I could ever put on lipstick w/o a mirror. I have enough difficulty staying in the lines with cherry-flavored chapstick (you can kind of see a pinkish smear making inroads towards my cheeks).

              Mom putting on lipstick while looking in a pocket mirror seems potentially less bad than mom putting on lipstick w/o a pocket mirror.

            2. Not proper behavior at dinner, or any meal. They should take their personal grooming to the ladies room.

              1. Here is a link about lipstick at the dinner table. But apparently by some of the comments, some people don't find it acceptable.


                1. Definitely not something I would ever do. How acceptible it is to other ppl prob depends in part on where you are in the country and how common makeup-wearing is there. My impression is that more women wear more makeup in the south than in the northeast. People in Burlington, VT may read the behavior as vain; in Miami, FL, it might be considered normal.

                  1. She should definitely take it to the ladies room. What if some of the makeup falls onto the plate or table? Gross.

                    1. I once heard that it is acceptable after dessert to reapply lipstick (with a small compact mirror). I think I may have even seen this in old movies. As for me once the lipstick is off, it pretty much stays off. I'm not going to bother reapplying it--even if I do go to the ladies room.

                      1. Well, I've never put on makeup at the dinner table.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka


                          i cant seem to put it on right WITH a mirror...i cant imagine without.

                          honestly though, i think there are much worse sins. I dont think i would be offended by a lipstick application or a quick swipe of powder. Now if the eyeliners or the mascara start making a tableside appearance, i think i might be a little uncomfortable. I mean comm'on this isnt a place for a complete makeover. Also if someone KEEPS checkng thier lipstick in a compact mirror, i might presume they are either slightly vain or wholly self conscience.

                          otherwise, i think i would just let them do their thing and resume with dinner..

                        2. For me once it's gone, it's gone. If I were going somewhere after dinner I might re-aply in the car. I've seen others primping at the table, cant say it bothers me....Oh, except the one time someone I was dinning with whipped out a brush and brushed their hair...at the table, now that I find nasty.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: bubbles4me

                            That is so disgusting.. who brushes their hair at the table, or anywhere near food in general? Ahhh that makes me gag for real..

                            1. re: NovoCuisine

                              I hear you! Then again... just had a nice meal... its maybe 9:00... I've got quite a bit of beard stubble grown out by now... maybe I should whip out my ELECTRIC SHAVER and do a little touch up!!! LOL

                              1. re: woodburner

                                hey -- there's an I Love Lucy episode where Ricky and Fred do just that, when they get frustrated the ladies are freshening their make-up at the table after dinner at a restaurant, to teach them a lesson.

                          2. I admit that I'm addicted to 7th grade lip gloss..you know, the glossy shiny roll stuff..
                            I have learned through the years to apply it in a stealth way..no one ever sees it and no mirror is necessary..just like cherry chapstick!

                            1. I might slip on some chapstick when I'm out to eat with my girlfriends, once the meal is over. However, I don't think I would ever reapply my lipstick in front of my date.

                              1. Like most everyone else, I think she should take it to the ladies room. A former boss of mine used to put on lipstick and powder her nose at restaurant tables regularly, and it would drive me crazy. She'd also do this bizarre thing with her napkin to, I guess, clean her teeth. She'd hold the napkin above her nose so her mouth was covered and then take her other hand and rub the inside portion of the napkin against the front of her teeth. That shouldn't have been done at the table either . . .

                                1. Gut, putting on makeup belongs in the ladie's room. However, if I had to choose between looking at a well groomed, properly attired person putting on makeup and a sleeveless dirty person with a baseball cap in cutoff jean shorts, no socks and dirty sneakers, would much rather see the former. Kind of ashamed of the Midwest in that respect, have been to WAY too many nice restaurants with tableclothes where people don't know how to dress properly.

                                  1. I can just hear my grandmother, who had impeccable manners and a great sense of humour, stage whispering "That's why its called a powder room, dear.".

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: pengcast

                                      That's what I'm thinking, because if you powder your nose at the table, what to you say when you need to use the "powder room?" Eek! Powdering your nose was the elegant excuse!

                                    2. By "freshening her face" I'm assuming you mean powder, base or blush, etc., which gosh, is a bit much for the dinner table, even at a casual place with friends or family. I'd go to the restroom for that. Chapstick or gloss, for which one doesn't need a mirror, I will reapply after dinner at the table, but only in front of family or friends for whom I have no romantic interest whatsoever. I'd be mortified to do any kind of personal grooming in front of business contacts or romantic interests. I think if you have second thoughts about such behavior, it's better to err on the side of discretion.

                                      1. Hopefully I'm so into the food, wine and company that fixing my makeup does not occur to me. What I consider "proper behavior" may range from improper to wildly bizarre to the person at the table next to me (i.e. letting my husband taste food directly from my dish, never learning proper chopstick technique and asking for cheater sticks if I'm having a really hard time of it, etc.)
                                        I don't remember ever putting on makeup at the table, it's just not something I think is necessary... but I have snuck a quick spinach-check peek at my teeth in the back of a spoon.

                                        1. Duh, no. Unless she was reapplying lipstick with the express intent of drawing your attention to her lips, in which case ... well, maybe not proper, but it's all good.

                                          1. My best friend has that habit....he just can't stay away from eyeliner.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: beevod

                                              I'm not going to ask how he eats to mess up eyeliner during the course of dinner. ;)

                                            2. I've always heard if it's anything other than a quick re-apply of lipstick, it should be taken to the ladies' room. I don't see what's so offensive about a 10 second apply of lipstick.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: rockandroller1

                                                i agree that lipstick is fast and discreet and totally fine to swipe on at the table just before leaving. exquisitely feminine and well mannered women in other countries have no problem quickly reapplying lipstick before exiting a restaurant, train carriage, airplane, whatever. to non-chowhounds, dinner is often not the highlight of the evening, folks go to theater, nightclub, ball game or some other public event- gotta wear the lipstick. as the person who had to scrub the lipstick off the bar glassware, i'd actually prefer that folks would apply lipstick *after* the meal & the glass of wine! LOL

                                                it can create service issues when someone is constantly leaving the table & dashing off to the loo. the server becomes unsure about when to present the menus and the courses and the check when people are absent from the table. the whole meal can run 30-45 mins longer due to these multiple potty visits, which can be annoying & tiresome for dining companions. if i was with someone of either gender who needed to rush off to the restroom two or three or more times in the course of a meal i would definitely be bored and would think they had a serious eating disorder or drug problem or both.

                                                whipping out hairspray or loose powder or anything airborne, or heavily scented, or making a spectacle of yourself with eyelash curlers or whatever-- obvious faux pas. lipstick, come on. . . women have been publicly applying lipstick for at least a century, it's fast and (usually) discreet and people need to get over it. how on earth do you explain a society where public breastfeeding is acceptable and embraced but swiping a little plum lipstick on prior to leaving your restaurant booth has people up in arms? gads, get a grip, folks!

                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                  well said soupkitten!
                                                  Lip Gloss Chick and proud of it..

                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                    not sure i agree with you about public breastfeeding being acceptable. much less embraced. still a lot of hostility out there.

                                                2. From the etiquette I've read, lipstick or lipgloss is fine as long as you can do it without a mirror. If you need a mirror, you go to the bathroom.

                                                  It's pretty rude to whip out a mirror and stare at yourself while at a dinner table with other people.

                                                  1. According to Amanda Gamble (whoever she is) never!


                                                    1. yes! It's amazing how clueless some people are. I've seen people cutting their finger nails in public! It disgusts me. Make up isn't, but it's not appropriate either. There's a place for this....the ladies room.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: mmuch

                                                        I find the fingernail thing to be cultural. It grosses me out as well -- as well as picking your nose, hocking up a loogi, spitting, farting, and burping in public. But in some countries, it's a totally acceptable thing.

                                                        1. re: mmuch

                                                          A guy did that in one of my college classes. It took all of the willpower I possess not to scream at him. I'm surprised the prof didn't. That is my most hated noise in the whole world. Just thinking about it... Yuck!

                                                        2. According to Emily Post, MMRuth is exactly right: It's ok to quickly put on lipstick at the table as long as you're with close friends or family, in a non-business situation, and at a non-deluxe restaurant. But when in doubt on whether something is polite or not, it's best to take it into private quarters and do it there.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                                                            Ladies room. And I don't care WHAT the situation is.

                                                            BTW, who on earth outs on lipstick DURING dinner? How many times do you have to put on lipstick? So how could the server get confused? And who cares?

                                                            Breastfeeding, on the other hand is often a necessity unless you want to treat other diners to a screaming baby and it is a very simple thing to be discreet about it. It will also most likely put the baby to sleep so everyone, including mom can enjoy their meal. Really, get over the breastfeeding heebie-jeebies. It's hard enough to do and it means a nation of healthier people.

                                                            1. re: Whosyerkitty

                                                              I've read your post several times, and I'm still not sure where you're coming from in the last paragraph. I don't want to get in an argument, but are you saying it's OK to breastfeed (however discreetly) at the table in a restaurant, but it's not OK to quickly fix your lipstick at the end of a meal? Or, by virtue of your first sentence, both should be done in the ladies room?

                                                              1. re: Whosyerkitty

                                                                Agreed. Make-up application is for the restroom, no matter how quickly you can do it. Do you apply your make-up near food at home? Perhaps in the kitchen? I doubt it...

                                                                Eating happens at the table, whether from a plate, or in the case of infants, from the breast.

                                                            2. Definitely take any makeup applications to the ladies' room, including lipstick.

                                                              1. Uggghhhhh, my MIL does this and it drives me nuts. She takes out her compact and her bright red lipstick and takes a good five minutes to apply it. I would love to say something, but I always just bite my tongue.

                                                                1. I'm a lipstick applier. After I've finished my meal, I put a quick coat of lipstick on. This takes me all of 6 seconds--I've timed it.

                                                                  1. I think a quick swipe of lip gloss without a mirror is the only acceptable thing to do at the table...everything else can be saved for the ladies room.

                                                                    1. I have a lovely Wedgewood lipstick holder/mirror that I bought in England when I was a very young lady in 1967. It's obviously intended to be displayed in public, and my mother and her peers would always refresh their lipstick at the table, That said, I would never do this. It seems very old school and outdated to me now. (Sorry, Mom.)

                                                                      1. Lipstick cases are equipped with mirrors specifically so a person may refresh in public. Getting up and going to the restroom just to do something that takes one moment is silly.

                                                                        And I cannot believe so many people think makeup is unsanitary. It's probably cleaner than the dust on your clothes, and definitely moreso than the unseen spittle emanating as you speak. Do you leave the table when you want to talk?

                                                                        (BTW: I don't wear lipstick or powder. I just think this is silly)

                                                                        1. I don't know if it is proper behavior or not but I do know that when someone sitting at the same table as me does this it makes my stomach turn. It's not logical or something I can debate. It's just how it makes me feel.

                                                                          1. In six months in Mexico I saw two women pluck their eyebrows in restaurants and saw one woman flip her head over and brush her hair at the table.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Jetgirly

                                                                              God help us! Gross doesn't begin to describe this behavior. I guess we should be relieved that it was her eyebrows she was plucking. About 20 years ago, my dad and 3 of his friends stopped in the 19th hole of their country club for lunch after a round of golf. Their regular waitress ( a woman of some 40 years) announced to the table that she'd gotten a new piercing. When asked, " Oh yeah, where?" She hiked up here skirt, exposing the ring on her labia. She was fired, but it was many months before my parents could bring themselves to eat there again. Top that!

                                                                              1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                I'm not sure that cannot be topped. Also about that 20 years ago (+/-) I was in a favorite BBQ restaurant and a woman was changing her baby's diaper at the table. The powder room was only a few feet away!?!?!Regarding nursing infants: An infant, sure, but a 2 or 3 year old, in public???? Last week, a woman was feeding her 3 year old on the bus. No attempt at, dare I say, MODESTY. A little discretion would be very considerate and appreciated.

                                                                            2. I defer to all of those "Miss Manners" genre books I read as a teenager for the answer:

                                                                              IF no one is eating (so, everyone has finished their meal) AND you are so inclined because you are all about to leave, you may 1) put a dab of lipstick on using your compact mirror, and/or 2) quickly dab powder on your nose. If you are going to do the whole face, or absolutely anything else, especially if it involves hair, it must be done in the ladies room.

                                                                              I might add that this is probably something you might want to do only when dining with close friends, and I would suggest not doing this is in a business setting. Most men would find this offputting unless it was a friend or wife. Miss Manners, circa 1968, did not contemplate women at business dinners when she wrote her advice books.