Makeup Manners: Is It Okay To Touch Up Lipstick In Public?

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Picture this: Friday night date. The restaurant? Your favorite. Your dinner guest? Dreamy. After splitting a sinfully delicious dessert, you dab your mouth with a folded napkin and then, seductively reach into your purse, procure a compact mirror, and proceed to... reapply your lipstick.

Is this sexy? Was gliding a lip brush over your pout in public once considered glamorous and feminine? Who can forget the final scene in Breakfast At Tiffany’s where, before addressing a letter containing bad news, Holly Golightly proclaims “A girl can’t read that sort of thing without her lipstick,” while nervously dragging a peachy tube around her mouth. The action, while somber, reads as habitually sensual, and undeniably captivating.

But is lipstick just another part of personal hygiene? Picking one’s teeth, swiping a blotting paper over your T-zone—not only are these daily touch-ups not a turn on, most of us wouldn’t dare to do them anywhere outside of the ladies room. Perhaps we should be regretting that pastel pout retouching we did on the train after work? That dabbing of gloss we stopped to diligently apply before ducking in to meet friends for lunch?

With all the ultra-cute, look-at-me lipstick packaging on the market today, who wouldn’t be tempted to show off their purple Lime Crime unicorn or gilded Guerlain tubes to their fellow city bus or elevator riders? The fact is, this is one oral fixation that can instantly go from erotic to neurotic, and those lip traditionalists in between aren’t having either.

So you tell us, is applying lipstick in public a flirtatious do or a dirty don’t?