Written by Pippa Evans


100 Days as a Biscuit: week 10

Being a biscuit for 100 days has raised various questions for Pippa Evans, with possibly the most contentious involving public transport.

Through my makeup sabbatical, I have become au fait with several arguments about makeup.
“Do we only wear it for the menfolk?”
“What age should girls be allowed to start using it?”
And my favourite: “Only prostitutes and whores wear makeup.” Genuine comment.
The biggest question, however, and the one that seems to upset the most people, is the age old “Why do women put their makeup on, on the tube?”

Apologies to those of you who don’t live in London, and I am sure we could substitute train or bus for “tube”, but I wonder if perhaps it is a little to do with the forced physical closeness of rush hour that makes makeup on the tube so much more offensive to some commuters.

It’s only in recent times that women have started using the tube as a boudoir. Previously it would have been a super social no-no, but now, clambering on the Northern Line, still half asleep, we reach for our makeup bags and start the ritual of applying that morning’s face. The average tube journey is 40 minutes: in that time you can transform from a hungover nightmare to a serene city CEO. No one need know! Except for the 700 people squashed up against you as you apply your Lancôme.

It is not unusual for a lady to take out a lipstick and reapply at the dinner table, or for someone to take out a compact and powder their nose – a scene seen in many black and white movies. Yet the contentment of some women to lay bare their entire makeup routine is fascinating.

This does not currently apply to me, but I have been known to do my entire face on the train. To go from Pippa to Loretta in six stops. This is particularly amusing as I start out pale and kindly and become dark and sinister, mascara pouring down my face. People often think that the tube must have stopped suddenly, rather than me choosing to look this way. A few times people have even said, “I think your eyeliner has smudged”, as if it is only a tiny lick. For those of you who don’t know, this is my Loretta makeup.

Some respond to tube makeup with disgust. It’s a private time, they say, a ritual that should not be seen. It breaks the illusion that we are butterflies, always pretty and fluttering. Instead we are revealed to be like Angelica Houston in The Witches: a gross beast that is covered up to look human.

Others can’t see a problem. We are putting our makeup on for work when otherwise we’d just be sitting there doing nothing. Seems silly to get up half an hour earlier to do it at home when it’s perfectly possible to do it privately on the tube. But then, as my friend’s father put it, “I don’t want powder flying in my face: it’s not a bathroom; It’s public transport!”

As I am currently a biscuit, I have enjoyed not having to consider this conundrum. I wake up, wash my face, moisturise and ding! I am done. I do not envy the majority of women spending that time painting on their work face. Just watch The Apprentice and you will see how every morning the men wash and go and the women preen for hours to get their corporate look.

I’m not against makeup on the tube/train/bus, but some people get a bit gross with what they do. Here are some simple rules for doing your makeup on public transport:

1) Do your base at home. It really is hard to do en route and you will probably get foundation on the seat/your coat/someone else’s coat.
2) Anything that puffs, sprays, dusts or stinks, do it when you get to the bathroom at work.
3) Hair carries all sorts of stuff. Brushing it fills the air with your dead skin. Not nice on the tube. Brush it at home.
4) Do mascara/eyeliner/eyebrows when the train is at full speed. If you do it too near before or after the stop, it will jerk and you will end up looking like a David Bowie reject.
5) Don’t squeeze spots. It is disgusting (and they will definitely) get infected.

Time is such a bastard. We don’t have enough of it which makes us have to compromise on where and when we do certain tasks. Makeup should be a fun ritual and, I think, ideally we’d all do it at home. At home you can enjoy putting it on, instead of seeing it as a chore. BUT when it’s the choice between an extra half hour in bed or doing your makeup on the tube, I know which I’ll pick.

Biscuit I most resembled this week: Is there a biscuit that looks like a ghost? Very tired, very pale. I got THE LURGY this week.
Number of hours thinking about makeup: Hardly any, but I did wear it for three shows due to my paleness. I guess I felt that a paying audience doesn’t want to see someone who looks ill come onstage – unless that’s their shtick.
Enquiries into my health: a lot of people told me I looked tired this week. I was. So is that bad?

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Written by Pippa Evans

Pippa Evans is a comedian, improviser and the co-founder of Sunday Assembly. She lives in London.