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Mornings. You either love them or hate them. But it’s not just a matter of being an early riser or a night owl. The hectic juggling act many women face in managing work, chaperoning their children and running errands — on top of seeing friends and other life tasks — means that there are some things that inherently receive less attention than others, specifically the morning routine.

In fact, many women acknowledge their weekly commitments as overwhelming — as many as 55 percent feel they are currently too busy, with mornings by far the busiest part of their day. If you’re one of these women, chances are you might be saving your makeup routine for the morning commute, simply because you have no other time to do it.

Nowadays, it seems nearly everyone has tips and tricks for applying makeup in a moving vehicle, from L’Oréal to InStyle. And while #CommuterBeauty tips are likely geared towards passengers, it seems that this advice is getting taken a bit too literally, with many women putting on their face while behind the wheel. In a poll of 700 women, we discussed morning makeup routines to see how many women were putting on makeup while driving, what products were most commonly applied during the commute and what types of distractions makeup application caused behind the wheel.

How Distracting is Applying Makeup While Driving?

Multitasking has traditionally been perceived as a woman’s domain, and rightfully so. A woman, particularly one with children, routinely juggles a job, running a household — in itself a frantic mix of kids’ lunch boxes and housework — all while organizing appointments and social engagements (phew). Yet, a growing body of research shows that human brains cannot manage multiple activities at once.

You know where we’re going with this. Applying makeup while driving is, without a doubt, less about the ability to multitask as it is just a dangerous distraction. However, when we asked women about their makeup routines, a shocking 24% admitted to distracted driving while putting on their face behind the wheel.

woman looking in rearview mirror while putting on makeup

Of these women, we took a deeper look at how many experienced dangerous distractions. Nearly half of respondents said they’ve taken their eyes off the road to reach into their makeup bag to grab a product, another 19 percent of women said they’ve hit the brakes from inching too close to another vehicle while applying makeup and 13 percent said they’ve even poked their eye with a mascara wand during the drive — talk about painful.

While these findings were less common, some women even reported missing a green light while applying their makeup, smudging their makeup during the application process (fingers crossed they brought along makeup wipes for that) and others even suggested they were skilled enough to remove their makeup en route to a gym glass.

distracting behaviors chart

Even if you don’t put on makeup while driving, you’ve likely looked over at the stoplight and seen the woman next to primping in the rearview mirror. 30 percent of drivers frequently see women applying makeup while behind the wheel.

As more of us are living in or commuting to cities for work, applying makeup on the go (be it driving or public transportation) has become a popular time-saver. It’s even forced the beauty industry to develop more portable, compact and easy-to-apply-on-the-move products — all hail stick makeup!

So You Think You’re a Good Driver?

Just because beauty companies design products geared towards an on-the-go lifestyle doesn’t mean it’s actually safe to do so. We asked female drivers what they thought about putting on makeup behind the wheel. While the general consensus (90 percent) is that applying makeup behind the wheel impacts your ability to drive, 10 percent of women said they felt skilled enough to apply makeup while driving.

What Does an On-the-Go Beauty Regimen Look Like?

We were curious which beauty products were deemed the most important — in other words, which ones couldn’t wait out the drive. We asked women which products they most frequently applied on the road. Lip gloss and mascara won by a landslide, which might explain the common distraction of poking one’s eye with a mascara wand.

makeup compact pie chart

A small percentage of brave women can’t live without their eyeliner — applying it behind the wheel. You might just be one sweep of the pencil away from temporary blindness.

Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That

Despite the obvious dangers of applying makeup while driving, it’s understandable that many women feel the need to do so. After all, we’ve established that our morning routines are far too rushed. 63 percent of women feel panicked in the mornings with only a few spare minutes to put on their makeup. But just how much time should you spend on applying makeup? It’s a debate that rages on.

putting on makeup statistic

Considering the majority of women feel pressed for time, it’s a far cry from the AOL/Today Show 2014 study that suggested women spend approximately 55 minutes per day doing their hair and makeup. If women hardly have time for their morning routine, it’s hard to imagine a world where they’re able to dedicate two full weeks of self-pampering per year.

Can You Actually Get in Trouble for Applying Makeup Behind the Wheel?

While most of us admit that applying makeup behind the wheel is dangerous (even those who acknowledge it and do so anyway), it turns out there’s no law that specifically states that women can’t apply makeup while driving.

That said, there’s a caveat here. In reality, the in-car makeup regimen falls under the umbrella of distracted driving. In many states, it’s viewed the same as eating while driving or worse, texting and driving. Yet, you rarely hear of drivers getting an “eating while driving” ticket. That said, you can certainly get a ticket for putting on your face while behind the wheel, even if it’s just lip balm.

Take Nevada driver, Stephanie Fragoso, as an example. She thought a police officer was joking when he pulled her over for putting on lip balm at a red light in Las Vegas. After all, she was stopped on April Fool’s Day. But Fragoso quickly realized the state trooper was serious when he handed her a citation showing a $200 fine. While $200 is no small amount, it could be worse. States like California have vehicle codes that state a driver can be ticketed $145 to $1,000 for having “wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.

Of course, some states have higher fines for distracted driving than others. To help you paint a picture for how much putting on makeup while driving can actually cost you, we’ve highlighted the most and least expensive states for distracted driving fines in the U.S.

map of fines for distracted driving

Doing Your Makeup in a Moving Car

We acknowledge the commitment to the daily beauty regimen is undoubtedly impressive. Nothing is quite as intriguing — or perhaps even mesmerizing — as watching a woman whip out her bag full of tricks on the bus or subway. However, the same can’t be said for seeing it on the road.

Next time you’re ready to set off on a road trip or simply just make the morning commute, don’t forget your defensive driving skills. Distracted driving is dangerous and claimed 3,166 lives in 2017 alone. Do your best to plan tomorrow morning’s makeup routine a little further ahead of time.

Additional sources:
PRNewswire | AOL | SFGate | NPR