Know Your Beauty Etiquette

Let’s face it: Etiquette and manners are important facets of everyday life. Whether you’re at a fancy restaurant or simply en route to work on the train, certain rules of decorum apply. Note that these aren’t meant to complicate your life; they’re just there to facilitate mutual respect and proper regard of your surroundings.

In a beauty perspective, “The manners you wear are another kind of perfume, and manners play a larger-than-usually-recognized role in defining one’s style and brand,” says Mireille Guiliano, former CEO of Clicquot Inc. in her book Women, Work and The Art of Savoir Faire (Atria Books). “How you embrace and demonstrate manners or etiquette sets you apart.”

Here are some tips to help you tread the waters smartly and with much aplomb.

1. Scent Strategy

How much is too much? Stretch your right arm out and do a 360. That is your “scent circle.” That’s how far your perfume should reach. Anything another person can smell beyond that circumference may be too cloying. If you’re unsure, ask friends or even just one trusted confidante to clue you in on your aroma.

2. Mane Mantra

The rule is simple: Brush your hair in the bathroom or in private -- not at your desk, on the train or at the dinner table. If you’re in someone’s home and leave a noticeable clump on the bathroom floor, as a courtesy to the next guest, use a bit of toilet paper to pick it up and throw it in the bin. The same holds true for the hair you leave on the sink.

3. Cosmetic Class

Makeup rules can be tricky because of the variety of products and the rise of multi-tasking items. The classic tip is “only lipstick and powder at the table.” But should you whip out a gigantic mirrored compact that houses both? Probably not. The best strategy is to keep it simple -- and get on with it as quickly and as discreetly as you can. Anything that takes longer than the amount of time you powder and retouch lip color, and anything that lets you shed something (e.g., nail clippings, facial hair), do in private.

4. Go With Your Gut

If there’s one “rule” that can encompass all others, it’s to go with your instinct. Etiquette and manners have a lot to do with common sense.

5. Bonus Tip!

How do you tell someone politely if she has lipstick on her teeth or has anything on her face? Speak up! If you were the other person, wouldn’t you want to know? Just do it as discreetly and as respectfully as you can, especially if it’s a higher-up at work or a business acquaintance. For friends, it should be easier and less sensitive. Casually point it out and move along.