9 Gross Everyday Habits You Need to Stop Doing in Public
Rule of thumb: Removing anything from your body that has your DNA on it should be done in private.
Painting your nails
So you’re running out the door and notice you chipped a nail and plan on fixing said nail en route to work in your daily carpool. But before opening the bottle, it’s important to know that the smell of nail polish can be nauseating to some. “Painting nails is part of our grooming and we should not be doing things that pertain to grooming in public,” says Elaine Swann, lifestyle and etiquette expert. “In addition, the smell of the nail polish itself can be offensive to others and we always want to be mindful that we’re not doing something that can offend someone else.” Besides, an hour at the nail salon is so much more relaxing than painting on the go.
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Trying on clothes outside of the dressing room
There are certain rules you should follow when it comes to trying on clothes at a store. According to Swann, outer garments like sweaters, coats, and shawls are perfectly fine to try on out in the open, but it gets a little dicey when it comes to say, a pair of shorts or a blouse. If you’re going to wear the garment directly on your skin as your first layer, you’re better off heading to the dressing room to make sure it fits properly. Accidentally flashing the cashier is mortifying and you definitely don’t want to spend $100 on a shirt that you halfway tried on only to get home and realize it’s too big. (Of course, if you’re at a sample sale, all bets are off.)
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Picking a wedgie or readjusting your bra strap
“Anything you can do discretely, go for it,” says Swann, with a huge emphasis on the word discretely. If you’re in a crowded room, pulling out a wedgie probably isn’t feasible. At a work event? Most likely not a good idea either, because really who wants to be caught by a boss with their hand up their butt. Now, it’s a little easier when it’s your bra strap that needs to be adjusted or pulled up, but hiking up the girls should always be done in private. Your safest bet is to head to the nearest bathroom and do all the readjustments needed before heading back out into the world. Avoid having to deal with ill-fitting undergarments and constantly pulling up your bra strap by purchasing the best bra for your bust.
Putting your purse on the table
Think of all the dirty places that you leave your purse throughout the day like the coffee shop floor, for instance. The bottom of your bag is probably crawling with germs—germs that you certainly don’t want to transfer to your kitchen table, countertops, couch, or even bed. Yes, it’s easy to throw your bag on the kitchen counter or dining room table after walking in the door, but don’t. Sling your purse on the back of a chair, on a hook, or on a designated side table, says Swann.
Brushing your hair anywhere besides a bathroom
While brushing your hair is totally permissible in a bathroom, even a public one, it’s not OK to take this task outside. No matter how careful you are, loose hair is bound to get everywhere. If you’re brushing your hair in a public restroom, Swann says to “pay attention to people’s body language and make sure you’re not taking up all the space.” And if it’s absolutely imperative that you brush your hair in public, try to make sure that no one is around you in your line of hair fire. Getting a mouthful of someone else’s hair is just gross.
Clipping your nails
Any grooming activity that involves removing your DNA, i.e. clipping your nails or plucking your eyebrows, should really be done in the privacy of your own home. However, Swann realizes that certain situations arise when you’re on-the-go and just don’t have time to primp yourself in private. Maybe you’re on a red eye cross-country flight and need to pluck a few stray brow hairs before a big business meeting, or perhaps your man forgot to clean up his nails before your grandparent’s 50th anniversary party. If you’re desperate, head to a bathroom. Whatever you do, don’t just go at it in the middle of a mall. “The key is to be mindful of the people around you and to not leave such a huge footprint,” says Swann. “Clean up after yourself once you’re done.”
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Pooping on an airplane
Flying is stressful and there’s a lot you have to remember to bring, and while we don’t want to add one more thing to your list, it’s important that you begin to carry a bathroom or toilet deodorizer spray when travelling because when you gotta go, you gotta go. Pooping on an airplane often gets a bad rap and many believe it to be repulsive and gross, but sometimes it’s just not possible to hold it in. “It’s better to let your body do what it’s supposed to do,” encourages Swann, “but just be mindful of the person that’s coming behind you.” The key to pooping on an airplane the right way is to make sure you always flush the toilet (duh) and to spray a deodorizer to reduce the bad smells.
Picking your nose
“That’s an absolute no,” says Swann. Resist the urge to stick a figure up your nostril and use a tissue instead. It’s not only completely disgusting, but picking your nose can actually be harmful too. And no, there’s no such thing as picking your nose discretely in public.
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When and where you apply or re-apply your makeup makes all the difference when it comes to proper etiquette. For example, if you’re waiting for the check at a restaurant, it’s completely fine to re-apply your lipstick or lip gloss, but anything more, like mascara or powder, should be done in the bathroom. If you’re riding on public transportation on your way to work, Swann believes it’s permissible to apply most makeup products like you would at home. “As long as you keep your space contained, then knock yourself out,” she says. “It’s what our world looks likes today.” Just be careful that you don’t accidentally put lipstick on your cheek, or poke out an eye with your mascara wand, should the train or bus come to a sudden stop.
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