Lipstick Protocol

In general, personal grooming should be done in private, but these days it is socially acceptable to apply lipstick at the table if you can do so quickly — within 30 seconds or so, and without drawing too much attention to yourself.  Do not pull out your entire makeup kit complete with lip pencil.  When in doubt, excuse yourself to the ladies’ room.

Red lipstick on your wine or water glass is not a desired mark.  Try blotting your lips with a tissue before drinking.  If a dark smear does appear on your glass, discretely remove it with a tissue or your thumb.  Do not use the host’s linen napkin.

Lisa Grotts is a former director of protocol for the City and County of San Francisco, and the author A Traveler’s Passport to Etiquette.  For more tips from Lisa, visit