So I Do My Makeup On The Tube, Who Cares?

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[byoo-tee tyoo-ber]: Noun – A person that applies makeup whilst using public transport.

‘Seriously?!’ despairs my boss, head in her hands. I’ve just revealed one of my most embarrassing secrets. And statistics show it’s one you’re likely to have too. I may be a bonafide beauty journalist, but I do my makeup on the tube. Every. Day.

Shut the front door, right? But I’m not alone. A whopping 67% of us do our entire make up regime on our morning commute. It probably helps that us Brits have the longest travel time in Europe, just FYI. But with more and more cushion compacts and stick foundations designed to help us do our makeup on the go, and even celebs Instagramming themselves painting their nails on the subway (Drew Barrymore you’re our time saving inspo) you’d think people might be over it by now.

There’s even a Tumblr dedicated to it – – where frankly I’m amazed I haven’t been named and shamed social media-style, that’s how often I do it. 


A photo posted by Drew Barrymore (@drewbarrymore) on

Jun 20, 2014 at 10:15am PDT

Arguments against it vary from hygiene issues (fair) and encroaching on other people’s precious morning commute (a little over sensitive) to the whole process being as bad as eating in the street (gasp!) or talking about periods in public (heaven forbid!).

But is it just plain old judginess? Psychologist Dr Elle Boag thinks there’s some truth in that. ‘We love making ourselves feel better by judging strangers. When we see a woman putting her make-up on whilst on the tube, we congratulate ourselves for being organised enough to get ourselves “sorted” before we leave the house.’

If, like me, you’ve ever dropped your Tom Ford liquid liner on the tube mid cat-eye only for it to roll halfway down the aisle and rest upon a woman’s pristine Tory Burch pump, you’ll know the kind of reaction I’m talking about. Or as I call it, The Shame.

But let’s face it, we all wear make up and that’s no secret. Yes, we all enjoy the ego boost when our boyfriend falls for our no make up make up (that in reality took a solid two hours to apply) but it won’t wash with the rest of us. Girl, we can see that contouring from a mile away. So where’s the solidarity? It’s time to discuss all that’s good (not gross) about doing our makeup on public transport.

First up – life’s short. When I get on the tube, press play on This American Life and whip my makeup bag out, it’s not by poor planning. I’m not late for work, I’ve just chosen to have ten more glorious minutes in bed. Sleep – 1, giving any shits about what other people think – 0.‘You can't change your outfit once you leave the house but you can improve your face!’ says celeb makeup pro Sharon Dowsett. So the tube it is.

And when the average London commute takes 74 minutes, surely I should be applauded for my perfectly planned use of otherwise unproductive time? As life coach Anna Percy Davis puts it, ‘If you can make applying your makeup on the tube a gutsy and confident action that you do for positive reasons like choosing to sleep a little longer or spending a few more minutes with your loved ones, then why not?’ Take a hike Candy Crush.

‘For us, doing our makeup on the train is like a ritual’, say Sam and Nic Chapman aka beauty vlogger extraordinaires Pixiwoo, ‘Men might stare at us, but women love it. By the end of our train journey to Norwich we always end up making friends.’

God knows we’re far too British to talk to each other on the train, so why not let the universal medium of makeup bring us together #IRL for once? It could even be good for you. ‘Sharing and chatting about what makeup you’re using can be an opportunity for connection and shared happiness’, says mindfulness expert Emma Mills. Amen to that sister.

At the risk of bigging myself up, applying makeup whilst on a moving vehicle is actually a CV worthy display of multi-tasking that I reckon should be applauded.…when it’s done right. Take it from a self appointed tube makeup pro, you want to get yourself a seat (a plastic partition as a mirror works wonders), keep powders to a minimum (cream blushers I owe you big time) and the ultimate steady-hand solution, cross your legs and lean on your knee when you’re doing your mascara. Ignore this last one and I can almost guarantee some unwanted eye stabbings.

When it’s done wrong? Well, I’d be lying if I said I’m never the one secretly judging you whilst you put your face on in public. One time I stared at a woman in silent horror for a full 45 minutes as she painted on whiter than white foundation to pale out her rosacea only to return to square one by coating her entire face in bright pink blusher. But more often than not it’s a look of solidarity on my face as I spy my fellow commuter nailing her Ruby Woo red lip between London Bridge and Bank.

Even the pros are impressed. ‘I’m fascinated by women applying their makeup on the tube’ says Dowsett, ‘Recently I saw a woman applying shimmering white all around her eyes which looked awful until she shaded them with taupe and added lashings of mascara. I complimented her on the way she structured her makeup and she told me she was an architect.’ Now, that’s what I call transferable skills.

As the legendary diamond magnate Harry Winston once said, ‘People will stare. Make it worth their while.’ If I want to pencil in my brows between stops, then I will. And more power to everyone else doing it too. My name’s George and I’m a Beauty Tuber and proud.

Issues worth caring way more about than contouring on the commute…

1. Does that woman know that her giant gym bag with ‘100% babe’ on it is about to cause me grievous bodily harm?

2. Is the dressing on my carefully prepared gluten free lunch currently seeping into my handbag?

3. Kanye West's overdraft limit.


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