someone spends an hour a day putting on makeup in our shared bathroom

A reader writes:

Hi! I work in an office building on a floor that has three different offices on it. The bathrooms in our building are not very big (four stalls, three sinks, and roughly 80 women on our floor).

I have IBS. I’m on a medication to keep me regular, but every so often it makes using the bathroom a sudden, painful, urgent need for me.

So imagine my horror when I run to the restroom and a woman from the office next door is spread out across all three sinks, working on her hair and makeup. Even though what I’m in there for is perfectly normal, it’s still embarrassing. Occasionally, her office buddy comes in and sits on one of the sinks, as well, so they can chat while she “works.”

I thought this was just annoying because of my medical condition and that maybe I was being unreasonable. I don’t like to talk to people about my medical issues, so I kept it to myself and just dealt with it. But it turns out, everyone else in my office hates it, too. (We have an open office and a new employee came in one morning and asked the room if they’d run into her, which started a very lively conversation about how much she is inconveniencing everyone. So this is how I know how they all feel about it. To my knowledge, no one has ever brought it up with her.)

She goes in around 9:30 and she spends about an hour on her makeup. (For our office, this is the “bathroom rush” because most of us go in around 6 so we have more time with the European office before they go home for the day. We have had quite a few cups of coffee at this point. So taking up ANY of the limited sinks for a long period of time is a problem for us since there are roughly 50 women from our office utilizing them.)

She has never once seemed to consider the idea that she’s taking up too much room and she gets an attitude if you ask her to move her stuff aside so you can wash your hands.

Honestly, the consensus in our office has been, “That woman needs a mirror for her desk so she can stop inconveniencing EVERYONE ELSE who has to use this bathroom.” If she doesn’t want people to think she’s weird, she should consider doing her makeup at home.

To be clear, we don’t mind touch-ups or teeth-brushing. It’s the whole makeup and hair routine that bothers us. There is a gym with a bathroom downstairs that she could be using for that.

Are we unreasonable for being annoyed by this? How should we be handling it?

No, you’re not being unreasonable. She’s spread out across three sinks! She’s in there for an hour! That’s not reasonable; it’s inconsiderate.

It’s true that with a public bathroom, you can’t expect perfect privacy when you need it — there could always be someone in there touching up their eyeliner or brushing their teeth, and you can’t expect people to instantly stop and rush out when they see you rushing into a stall. But this isn’t that; this is someone setting up camp in the bathroom for a use that most people would agree is significantly lower-priority than the one most people go into the bathroom for.

But whether or not there’s anything you can do about it is a different question. Certainly someone could approach her and ask her to change what she’s doing, but the fact that she’s already been rude when people have merely asked her to free up a sink for them doesn’t bode well about her likely response. This is the first thing to try, though, if it hasn’t been tried already.

If that doesn’t work … If she worked for your company, you could ask her manager to intervene. It’s still possible that you could speak to whoever manages physical-space issues for her company, explain the problem she’s causing for the rest of the building, and see if they’re willing to intervene, but it’s a little iffier when it’s a different company.

You could see if the building management would be willing to post some kind of sign (perhaps noting that there are limited bathroom facilities for the floor and asking that people not camp out there for non-toilet-related activities), but those sorts of signs are notoriously ineffective on already-inconsiderate people.

But you could try those things and see what happens. If they work, yay! If they don’t, well, then at least you know that you tried and she’s just a rude person (at which point you would also be justified in weaponizing your IBS toward her, should you be so inclined).

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 501 comments… read them below }

    1. H.C.*

      Well, I might be inclined to turn on the faucet and give her a few seconds to move her things before I start hand washing in/around her stuff – oh well if any splash damage occurs.

      1. The Original K.*

        Me too. I would just wash my hands as usual and she can feel any way she likes about it. She is not at home; she does not get to commandeer the office bathroom.

        1. Just Employed Here*

          Yeah, it’s hardly unexpected that people will wash their hands at a bathroom sink.

          And if it’s a surprise to her, I guess she’ll get used to it if everyone just keeps doing it. So what if she gets an attitude?

          1. Hey Nonnie*

            Same here. I’d say “Excuse me, I need to wash my hands” twice, at most, and if I got attitude both times, I’d just go wash my hands. If she doesn’t want her things to get splashed or otherwise wet, she can keep them away from the sinks.

            People who don’t respond well to words often will do in response to actual consequences for their actions. It might be grudgingly, but by that point I’m not going to care how she feels about it — she had her chance to share the space by request. The space is going to be shared whether she likes it or not — that’s the nature of a shared bathroom.

            And if she tried to then complain about ME to some authority, well good luck with that sister. I’m sure your employer would be thrilled to know that you’re slacking off on the clock for a full hour every single day.

            1. Hills to Die on*

              I wonder what would happen if a manager from your office said something to a manager in the other office…assuming The Makeup Queen isn’t the manager herself.

              She lost the right to get upset about people being near her things when she got an attitude. Using a bathroom for its intended purposes is the only reason to be there.

              1. Hey Nonnie*

                Yeah, if polite requests and making her routine inconvenient for her didn’t work after a reasonable amount of time, I’d just do the direct approach, assuming I knew which office she was from. I’d just pop over while she’s doing her makeup campout, and ask that a manager talk to her about how long she’s taking in there, because it prevents the other offices from using the space for its intended purpose. I’m sure the managers there would be delighted to know what she’s doing on the clock instead of working…

                If I didn’t know which office she was from, I might be motivated to make a bathroom trip near the end of her campout, so I could follow her out and see which door she went through.

                1. Ego Chamber*

                  “I’m sure the managers there would be delighted to know what she’s doing on the clock instead of working…”

                  Is this accurate or assumed?

                  When I worked at a call center they hired a lot of kids who’d just graduated from high school and a lot of the women who were new to working would crowd around the bathroom mirrors when they got into work but before clocking in (like doing your makeup in the bathroom at high school before going to class (god I hated that nonsense too)).

                  It was a huge pain in the ass for anyone who used the bathroom at that time, but management claimed they couldn’t do anything since the women weren’t clocked in, which isn’t accurate, but that was their excuse to not address the situation.

              2. OP*

                Hi, OP here! I have wondered that, too, and I’m slightly surprised none of our managers have tried this. They’ve all been pretty irritated by it, too. (One remarked that she couldn’t believe someone would clock in and then immediately start on her makeup.)

                1. TrainerGirl*

                  OP, is she making up the time that she’s spending doing her makeup/hair for an hour? If she clocks in and THEN does her getting ready, she’s getting paid for beautification, not work.

                2. Bagpuss*

                  maybe you could suggest it to them? Raise it as a question, if necessary – “Would it be possible for you to speak to Makeup Queen’s manager about her use of the bathrooms, as it’s causing problems for other employees”, or something along those lines.

              3. Argh!*

                She lost the right to get angry about being near her things when she splayed her things over 10 feet of shared space!

            2. AdAgencyChick*

              Yeah, I’d go with a simple “Excuse me,” and if she won’t move, I’d move in and start washing. I probably wouldn’t have the presence of mind to come up with any clever comebacks in the event she gets sassy, but as long as all she is is pissed off (ie, not getting physical), that’s fine too. I don’t need rude people to like me.

              It’d be good to have a stock answer for sass, too, like “This is a restroom and I need to wash my hands. Thanks.”

              1. LCH*

                or if attitude ensues, “yeah, your stuff is taking up the whole space, isn’t it?”

              2. Hey Nonnie*

                Or just react with horror and disgust and exclaim “Are you seriously suggesting that I skip washing my hands after using the toilet?!” Bonus points for making an obvious glance at her hands. Maybe an “unconscious” step away from her.

                1. Pomona Sprout*

                  DING DING DING DING We have a winner!

                  Seriously, I LOVE this approach. Absolutely love it.

                1. Happy Lurker*

                  I would seriously just wash away, vigorously, like I was going in for surgery. I would make sure I was deep in thought. Never looking at Makeup Maven, distant eyes the whole thing.
                  I would not touch someone else’s stuff. I would not be upset if water and soap got on her makeup. I might say Ops! But that would be it.
                  I have turned into a sour middle aged person, who cannot go out of the way to be nice to rude people.
                  Good luck OP and please update us.

              3. LCH*

                i’d avoid trying to touch her stuff (but not hard) in order to stay fully in the right, but it probably doesn’t matter.

              4. EddieSherbert*

                +100! I like the simple statement (said blandly) pointing out the obvious…. it’s a bathroom. This is gonna happen if you hog ALL the sinks.

            3. TootsNYC*

              I VERY seriously would say, “excuse me,” and I wouldn’t wait for a response. I would simply reach over all her stuff to wash my hands. I would stand where I wanted to, and I wouldn’t worry about “invading” her space.

              This is what living in NYC has taught me. In NYC, “excuse me” is a notification–not a request. It means, most of the time, “get out of my way,” in varying degrees of politeness that are determined and effected by tone of voice. It can be very polite, and even a request if pronounced like a sentence. But it’s still a notification.

              I would make this one matter-of-fact.

              1. Bibliovore*

                Excuse me is notification, not a request. I never thought about it that way but it certainly works when trying to get past the people in the doorway to get off the subway.

                1. Alli525*

                  Having lived in the Midwest, the South, and now NYC, I so wholeheartedly agree with this explanation.

      2. LCH*

        same, just get in there and wash your hands at whatever sink she isn’t standing in front of.

    2. BadWolf*

      Also don’t starting touching all of her stuff prior to washing your hands, post leaving the stall. “Oh, is this a new mascara?!”

      1. Hey Nonnie*

        Make sure you’ve made a show of grunting and groaning in the stall just prior, though. >:D

        1. GlitsyGus*

          There are a few very irritating women who take personal phone calls while camping out on the toilet at my office. Every time I have to deal with it I make a point of farting as loud as possible if I can manage and flush several times (I know it’s a waste of water but our toilets are so low quality you usually have to flush twice anyway).

            1. Julia*

              Really? :D

              But I think the noise is more to let the person on the other end of the phone know that they’re being called from the bathroom. I think we had a thread on this a little while ago?

    3. Wendy Darling*

      OMG! I’m so glad I’m not the only person here who would go this route.

      1. BeautifulVoid*

        I also feel better that I am not the only person who had this same exact idea/reaction.

    4. Amber T*

      Honestly, this is exactly the route I would go. If this happened once and she accidentally left her mascara in front of a second sink, I would ask her politely to move it. But she’s made it clear that she doesn’t give a damn, so why should I.

      OK, while I wouldn’t “accidentally” knock her stuff in, I wouldn’t be careful to not get it wet or be gentle around it. If it gets wet, it gets wet. You don’t get to spread out across Three. F’n. Sinks.

      She gets double rude points since you apparently have a locker room where this would be more acceptable.

    5. Hills to Die on*

      But if it happened accidentally I don’t think anyone would be upset except her.

    6. Argh!*

      I was going to suggest putting duct tape over one of the sinks with a crudely magic markered sign saying “Out of Order Waiting for parts.” You could unscrew the cold water handle for giggles and keep it in your office, hanging on the door with an attached screwdriver…

    7. RUKiddingMe*

      Ha! Great minds… This was my first thought. “Ooooppppssssyyyy…” :)

      But yeah, OP, seriously don’t do this.

  1. voyager1*

    The “bathroom rush”…. Hee hee hee but oh so true in most offices.

    Maybe someone should tell makeup lady to do her makeup in the car while driving… I thought that was what all women did judging by who I see on my commute /s

    1. Argh!*

      I used to do that! It took me almost an hour to drive 11 miles. I arrived at work in full face!

      1. bookish*

        I don’t have a car so it’s either public transit or Uber/Lyft for me and if I’m doing makeup for the day I usually do it then. But even then I’m just doing a bit of brow touch up and mascara pretty much. I would feel so weird about doing a full face of makeup in the office bathroom! Even if I’m just doing a small touchup I’m hoping no one sees me.

  2. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

    Oh wow, I audibly snorted at “weaponizing your IBS” !!!

    1. I BS*

      You could be the office hero!
      As a fellow IBS sufferer, I totally empathize with the great bathroom shame, but for those of us not in that bathroom, we fantasize about you dead-faced telling Barbie “You’re…uh…not going to want to stick around.” before going into a stall.

      1. Janice in Accounting*

        My daughter has IBS and she occasionally will say before going into the bathroom, “This wing is about to be CLOSED.”

    2. ragazza*

      Stink that place up! Make some noise! I think everyone who is annoyed with her should go in there and get some work done, if you know what I mean.

      1. OP*

        HA! You sound like our designer! She said, “I’m sure SOMEONE has made an app for bathroom noises. What if I just go into a stall and play that for 10 minutes or so? Think she’d leave?”

        1. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

          This is brilliant! I would do it myself but I would be giggling the whole time

        2. Safetykats*

          Yes. And seriously, it’s asparagus season, encourage your coworkers to start eating a lot of it. Asparagus and beans.

    3. Troutwaxer*

      Why not find a truly horrible scent of bathroom deoderizer – Pyramid Patchouli or Strawberry-Necterine. You and your office mates can keep it near the door and spray extensively after each and every use of the bathroom if the Make-Up Artiste is there. “Sorry, did that get on your make-up?”

      1. Emilie*

        This might not be great idea, considering that this would make it so, that noone with an allergy to perfumes would be able to enter the bathrom.

        But in theory, I would recommend the horrible lavender scented room spray, that was used excessively in an Airbnb I rentet in Porto last summer… It can only describe the smell as “chemicals with more chemicals”.

    4. willow*

      and plug your ears so you don’t know exactly how embarrassd you should be. That’s what I do!

      1. Clorinda*

        Nobody needs to be embarrassed about pooping in the toilet. Pooping anywhere other than a toilet is embarrassing. Using the toilet for its purpose–no matter what kinds of noise or smell might be involved–is not in any way shameful.

    5. President of the Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club*

      I would try to round up enough friends to fill up all the stalls and time all of our morning dumps for right when make up hour starts.

      1. HermioneMe*

        Yes, this! Then all go wash your hands at the same time! 3 of you – 3 sinks!

  3. Magenta Sky*

    Perhaps a better approach would be to question whether or not she’s doing this _on the clock_. Is her employer aware they’re paying her to do her makeup for an hour every day?

    1. The New Wanderer*

      That’s where my mind went – I’d be inclined to go to her office and ask for her manager and drop a dime on her. It would be best to go as a group since everyone is pretty irritated by this anyway. Okay, I might not have the guts to do that, but I would really want the group to all happen to descend on the bathroom at once and demand to use all of the sinks right now.

      The fact that she cops an attitude when asked to move her stuff/go somewhere else means the time to be polite is over. I doubt signs are going to work on someone that selfish. Although if anyone knows her first name, a sign directed at her personally might be fun.

      1. Rachel01*

        You would think that she would just store her hair & make up in the locker room & do it there. But that is too obvious to the employer that’s gone. She’s counting on them not realizing that she’s doing her make up, during work hours.

        If you got her name, two – four of you could start calling her supervisor saying that you cannot find her, during the time frame she’s in the bathroom. If she heads into the loo, say at 9:30 a.m., confirm she’s there than call her supervisor and state you cannot find her. Wait until another 15 minutes, someone else use the bathroom, she’s still there, have that person call the supervisor and state you cannot find her. space it out every 10 minutes she’s in the bathroom.

        Do this a few days in the row, it’ll clue her supervisor in on the fact that she’s making herself unavailable. Then have someone call and complain about her being in the bathroom for an hour doing make up.

        You can always place a sign up reminding people about the locker room, etc. in the bathroom.
        This would get my goat.

        1. Hey Nonnie*

          It would be really weird that people from the office down the hall are calling to look for her, though.

          (Maybe that’s the point? If so, bravo for humor/weirdness points!)

        2. snuck*

          See I’d just find that really… odd. It’s a separate entity, and kinda… high school drama?

          Far better to wander down a deputation to the other manager and say “Hey… we have to share the bathroom and this is happening with one of your staff every morning and it’s causing difficulties for us, can you please just keep an eye on it?” and swan on out.

          Then the manager will look at what the beauty queen is doing for sure. Probably doesn’t realise it’s for an hour. It could be for the hour before she starts work etc… but it is still on work premises so it’s still up for scrutiny.

          1. Krisanthemum*

            I mean, to be fair, spending time in the bathroom doing your hair and makeup when you should be doing something else IS a very high school thing to do.

      2. Clare*

        I would also try asking the building management to go to her manager or company director and tell them that there have been a number of complaints about their employee’s behavior in shared building space (and if you need to make this true, LW and all her female coworkers should take turns submitting complaints, maybe say have a weekly rotating schedule?)

        1. Triumphant Fox*

          I do like this. We had an issue with another office propping a door open and smoking just outside the door, which made the whole hallway smell like smoke. I think there was some passive aggressive removal of the door stop and some polite requests to stop, but when that didn’t work, it went to the building manager. I think one of the employees was pregnant at the time, so we used that to our full advantage. They eventually were evicted for a whole host of things, but the building manager handled the immediate issue.

    2. tink*

      That was my first thought too. A touch up is only a few minutes so that wouldn’t bother me, but this sounds like a lot of wasted work-time.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yeah; I found this so weird. Unless you’re in theater or playing a Disney character at an amusement park, who takes an hour out of their workday to do hair and makeup? Don’t most folks handle their grooming at home?

      1. Myrin*

        Clearly you haven’t heard of Gerlinde from my hometown who does her makeup on the train. Every morning. I used to take the same train as her every day and sometime’s I’d take the same one home in the afternoon as well and by then, her black eyeshadow was running down the sides of her eyes, all vampire-like.

        1. fposte*

          Several women did this on the train in my former urban life. I was opposed in theory because of etiquette, but I love watching people apply makeup so I considered it a draw.

          1. Fiennes*

            I once saw a woman on the train flawlessly apply a dramatic winged eyeliner—with liquid eyeliner, no less—despite a crowded and bumpy ride. Any etiquette qualms I had were eclipsed by awe.

            1. Blue*

              This is my thought! Who am I to judge someone who has the ability to put on mascara during a jerky, bumpy train ride without stabbing themselves in the eye? Their skills are clearly superior to mine.

            2. Julia*

              I sometimes see women here in Japan apply false eyelashes on the train. I can’t even do that at home! You’re not actually supposed to apply make-up on the train, but I don’t see the harm to others*, so I just watch in fascination how they do it. (Maybe I’ll finally learn??)

              When I commuted for four hours every day in Switzerland, I’d regularly have women doing their nails (!) on the train. On the express train where the windows don’t open. The fumes, the bottles that might spill – now that is definitely rude. Most of them got really snappy when you asked them to stop, too.

              * Obviously the harm would be to her if she a) poked her eye with eyeliner or b) someone she knew recognized her.

            3. bookish*

              I used to do that when I did the black winged eyeliner look! Nowadays I can barely be bothered to fill in my brows and add a hint of mascara. But I always do my makeup on my commute if I’m doing it, because it’s the perfect way to get it done before work without delaying my arrival or cutting into work hours. (The way I see it, I shouldn’t be penalized for being a woman by delaying my “clocking in” to do a little bit to look presentable… men don’t generally have to worry about being late to work because they couldn’t get their eyeliner right.)

          2. Pomona Sprout*

            Yeah, watching someone putting on their makeup wouldn’t bother me at all.

          3. Mookie*

            I enjoy skin care extraction videos an awful lot, but the romance is dead when somebody just starts popping whiteheads on public transport or in public places, which I’ve seen at least a dozen times. Nobody bothers with the ASMR soundtrack when they’re doing it live, either, which is a shame, nor do they offer you an up-close-and-personal look at the contents post-extraction. Very unsatisfying.

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          During the brief period when I rode a bus to work, back in the 90s, there was a woman on my bus who painted her fingernails while on the bus. How she managed not to spill the nail polish, or to get it everywhere but her nails, (which are both things I would do if I tried doing my nails on a moving bus), I will never know.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              But I only needed two sinks to write that, so I’m still good, right?

              There’s a back story. I needed a new username and this was the best I came up with. I was at a favorite band’s show, that I had to drive two hours to, and met a family of fans (mom, dad, and a son in his early 20s) from my area, who introduced me to the leader of the band after the show. We all had a nice chat, that basically consisted of Son asking Band Leader how he’d come up with this or that song, and the very tired Band Leader giving him pretty random answers. At one point, Son said “well what about this song?” and Band Leader was, “oh this one? I wrote this one in the bathroom” And to this day I cannot hear that song with a straight face again. End of story. Apologize for the offtopic comment.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            People who apply nail polish in shared closed spaces are terrible. A few times I encountered women painting their nails on the subway during rush hour. The smell is awful and it’s just rude.

            1. Specialk9*

              I did that once – pulled out a bottle of nail polish, mid conversation with my office mate. She told me later that she was taken aback, even more so when there was no smell. (It was water based nail polish.) I wouldn’t do it with regular nail polish though!

            2. Julia*

              I agree. And what if the train makes a sudden stop and you spill the bottle on someone? There were nail polish stains on several of the seat trays of the train I took to work.

        3. Magenta Sky*

          Unless she’s the engineer operating the train, she’s less annoying that the one the letter is about.

          1. Myrin*

            She isn’t annoying at all, it’s just midly strange. I was reacting to PCBH’s last two sentences.

        4. MM*

          I have done this. Usually the makeup is pretty much all there and it’s just mascara to finish off that happens on the train, but once I had to get up at the crack of dawn to go get my hair done and be a bridesmaid, so I did a full face on the train. No regrets. I needed that extra sleep time.

        5. SS Express*

          Is that…not a thing people do in your hometown? I do it every day. It seems about as common here as reading a book or drinking a takeaway coffee – not everyone does it, but enough do that it’s considered very normal train behaviour.

          1. Media Monkey*

            i’d also say pretty normal. i only do it myself if i am running late after the gym and don’t quite get my make up done in time, but i see multiple women putting on make up on trains (and the london underground) every day.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Most people do, but even if she’s homeless, OP said there’s a gym bathroom she can use instead of commandeering a bathroom shared by 80 women, at the most inconvenient times.

        And if I had to do my grooming at work for any reason, I wouldn’t take a damn hour and all three sinks.

        1. tangerineRose*

          That’s what really gets to me – that she takes all of the sinks and then has an attitude when someone asks to use a sink for *what the sinks are there for*.

          1. Allison*

            I get so annoyed when I can’t get to the sink to wash my hands because ladies are (or one lady is) putting on makeup.

        2. aebhel*

          Yeah, I’ve done my makeup in the work bathroom a couple of times when I was running late, but my makeup routine also takes 5 minutes. I actually can’t imagine how a person could take an HOUR unless they’re putting on like cosplay makeup and prosthetics.

          1. Allison*

            Right, even when I’m getting dolled up to go somewhere special I don’t think I ever take half an hour, much less a full hour. My work makeup takes maybe 10 minutes.

          2. Um, What?*

            I don’t do it at work, but I routinely take about 45min-1hr doing my hair/makeup for work, and I’m just an admin specialist (the specialty is not makeup). I just…really enjoy doing my makeup. People who take an hour to do makeup do exist and are not shockingly out of the norm.

            1. AnonMinion*

              Same here! I like doing my hair and makeup each day can easily spend 60-90 minutes doing it. For me it is a form of self care :)

              1. Specialk9*

                Well, I wasn’t counting hair – hair takes awhile (if you’re not lazy like me). But what would one do with just makeup, for an hour? I’m genuinely ignorant.

                1. Triumphant Fox*

                  There can be so much! I do five minutes max in the car right before work, with a sunscreen moisturizer before I leave the house, but if I’m really going for the full effect, I can definitely spend a ton of time on makeup.
                  Skincare – – eye cream, under eye cream, face and neck cream, lip moisturizer
                  Primers – face, eye, lip
                  Face – Foundation, concealer, color corrector, powder, bronzer, blush, highlighter.
                  Eyebrows – pencil, color fill, highlighter, tweezing, setting medium (often gel of some kind)
                  Eyes – Layers of shadow, liners, highlighters, curling, mascara and false lashes if you’re into that
                  Lips – pencil, lipstick/gloss
                  Setting – Setting spray/powder

                2. Alex the Alchemist*

                  Everything Triumphant Fox said, plus some formulas are more difficult to work with than others. For example, I have a couple eyeshadow palettes that I love the color scheme of, but they’re a lot more pigmented than most eyeshadows and need a lot more blending, so I know if I want to use those I need to block out at least 45+ minutes to do my full face and have it look nice. Also depends on the style and if you’re trying to do anything different with your makeup (the one time I tried to do an ombre lip I spent about a half hour on lipstick alone- never again).

          3. Roja*

            I was thinking that too. That is a LONG time. I can do my full stage makeup and a beautiful hairsprayed bun in less than 30 minutes without even breaking a sweat, and I’m terribly out of practice to boot. I’m sure others could do it much quicker. What makeup in real life would take twice that long?

            1. Ego Chamber*

              I’m terrible at being a lady, so my makeup routine takes like 15 minutes tops (moisturizer, CC cream, setting powder, mascara, tinted lip balm, some highlighter if I’m really feeling it, setting spray—and that’s if I put on any makeup, otherwise it’s just moisturizer and I’m out) but my mom takes over an hour with mineral foundation, blush/bronzer, blended eyeshadow, mascara, lipstick and a whole hair process that I still don’t know all of (there’s a curling iron involved? and hairspray? I just wash and wear mine because my hair is bone straight and I can’t be arsed to do a thing about it).

          4. LBK*

            Yeah, I mean, it takes professional drag queens about 2 hours to get ready. I can’t imagine it requires even half that time to get together your office look.

          5. Kimberlee, no longer Esq.*

            Eh, I think an hour is extremely standard for a lot of women. Primer, foundation, powder, eyeliner, eyeshadow, mascara, blush, lipliner, lipstick, curling iron, etc… My makeup routine doesn’t take long, but I also barely bother with any of that. Differing levels of self-confidence, skincare, and fine motor skills will all impact that timing. I don’t think there’s any reason to make bad assumptions about how long someone’s routine takes. I’m guessing we all agree it would be fine if she 1) kept the spreading to a minimum, and 2) didn’t have attitude about people using the bathroom for its intended purpose. No reason the length of her routine really needs to come into play here.

            1. Specialk9*

              I’m not judging, I’m just bewildered!

              And I feel like hair has to be kept separate. THAT one I get taking a long time.

              1. Rosemary7391*

                Why does hair take longer? I have a yard of hair, it can be brushed and in a bun in maybe 3 minutes, or plaited in 5. Of course I can spend longer, but it is a choice (and usually results in a less work appropriate style).

                1. Julia*

                  But that’s the thing. Applying make-up for an hour is a choice, unless that woman’s job includes looking extremely polished or being a Kardashian-imitator. Doing hair for an hour can be a choice, depending on your hair. Mine is naturally wavy with a tendency to frizz, and since many workplaces think that looks unpolished, it’s not a choice to style it in an un-frizzy way, and it can take a lot of time. Would I do it at work, though? No.

            2. Julia*

              I think my biggest time suck is waiting for things to dry. Is she hanging out in the bathroom until her primer sank in so she can apply foundation? When I use primer, I usually eat breakfast or whatever and then apply the rest of my make-up.

            3. aebhel*

              I wasn’t trying to be judgmental, honestly. I’m just genuinely baffled. I don’t come from an environment where most women wear much makeup, if any (the only reason I do is because I have very bad skin, and when I’m not breaking out I don’t bother), so it’s sort of an alien practice to me.

          6. Alienor*

            If you use a lot of different products (moisturizer, primer, foundation, highlight, etc.) you’re supposed to wait and let it set/sink in before putting the next product on, so that can add time. My makeup only takes 10-20 minutes depending on how much effort I feel like putting into it, but I’ve seen my daughter take an hour or more when she’s doing a full face “properly.”

        3. Rachel01!*

          Make up should be done before getting to work. She’s not productive for five hours a week.

        4. Happy Lurker*

          If I have to do make up at work, the bathroom is the last place I would use. The lighting is terrible. I do not believe I have worked at any office with good bathroom lighting.

          Hence the 3 times a year I need to touch up at work, I use a mirror and do so at my desk. I also make sure no one is around, because putting on make up is personal, almost like getting dressed. I don’t want anyone watching me.

      3. AKchic*

        Oh… I had a coworker do it. She also was moonlighting at a make-up store so she would spend the last hour of her day applying make-up and doing her hair for her next job. She’s a great make-up artist, don’t get me wrong. Some of her applications were truly inspired and creative. It just wasn’t what she was being paid for (granted, there wasn’t much she *was* doing to begin with…)

        So much mismanagement at that job.

      4. Kathleen_A*

        I know a woman who has limited mobility (she’s still recovering from a stroke from several years ago), so I wasn’t surprised to find out that it takes her a full hour to put on her makeup, but what did surprise me was how diligent she is about applying it every time she goes out because it is (to me) so tedious and time-consuming. But she loooooooves makeup. I one time asked her to share what all she uses and the list was – I am not kidding – 15-17 steps long, including eyeliner, mascara, 2-3 shades of eye shadow, eyebrow pencil, concealer, highlighter, foundation, blush, lipstick, lip liner, and a bunch of stuff I’ve never even heard of. Honestly, once I saw her list, I was surprised that it only took her an hour.

    4. Mike C.*

      That’s not the OP’s concern and it would be really weird to seriously pursue this.

      1. Mananana*

        If it’s seriously inconveniencing a whole floor of coworkers, including the OP, then why ISN’T it a concern?

        1. Argh!*

          It’s nobody’s business about her time but her’s and her boss’s.

          It’s always easier to tattle on someone than to confront them directly, but people almost always prefer to be told by the person concerned than to hear negative feedback second-hand.

          If that doesn’t work, going to the employer about her hogging the sinks and her lack of consideration for others would be find, but telling the boss that he should be supervising her better is a red herring.

          1. Lara*

            It’s not, it’s the bit where she spreads her stuff around three sinks, takes over the bathroom for an hour and snarks at people who want to wash their hands. That’s the bit that I think is a real factor – she’s taking over a communal space, one that most people want privacy in.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I have often suggested that my husband set a cup of tea in front of his monitor so people will think he is there. (He is not putting on makeup; he is somewhere answering “Oh, Rising, one quick question…”)

      I’m pretty certain that she “starts” her workday by switching the screen on, arranging her coat, maybe setting out some pens. Then ducks to the bathroom for a quick one hour grooming session that is included on her timecard (if hourly) or estimate of hours worked each day (if salaried).

    6. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      My thought exactly. Unless she works until 7:30PM (6:30 if she’s not taking any lunch), she’s not putting in the hours.

      1. Avid reader infrequent commenter*

        We have no idea if that’s true, since we’re not privy to her schedule or hours. I also don’t see why it matters in regards to the OP’s complaint. It doesn’t matter if she’s on the clock or not, that’s between her and her employer. What matters is that she is inconveniencing numerous people.

        1. Magenta Sky*

          It isn’t relevant to the original complaint, and she may well be salaried exempt.

          But if she’s not, it’s a way of getting her to stop, relevant or not.

          It depends on whether it’s more important to you to be right, or to win.

    7. TootsNYC*

      “excuse me.” (washes hands without waiting for a response.)

      (just before leaving, curiously): “Don’t you have work to do?”
      or, also in that curious tone, as if there’s an answer you’re mildly interested in:
      “Are you in here again?”
      or, if you go out and come back: “Are you still in here?”

      “Isn’t it crowded in here? I’d think you’d be more comfortable doing this in the locker room.”
      “This seems like a germy place to put on eye liner–I’d do that at home, myself!”

      If everyone in your office made a mildly critical comment every time they went in there, she’d get the message!
      Coordinate it, and do it every day for a couple of weeks.

      1. Mookie*

        With this person’s attitude, she’d probably chide you for those questions and claim later that you made her take too long by interrupting her.

    8. OP*

      That has absolutely occurred to us. Every time I consider giving her employer a heads up, I wonder if the potential for getting her fired is TOO petty (feel free to answer that). But even if I wanted to, I don’t know her name. :/

      1. MAB*

        If she was my direct report I sure would like to know she is in the bathroom for a hour every day on the company dime. I would like to know if she is getting her coworkers to join her. I would like to know that its happening in a shared bathroom and she is being rude about it. I would do something about it even if she was off shift. Thats just rude.

      2. AKchic*

        Look at it this way – 5 hours a week of company time, 20 hours a month – paid to apply her make-up instead of working. If she takes no vacation or sick leave, that is 260 hours a year. If she makes $18/hr (estimating, I don’t really care how much she makes) – she got paid $4680 to apply make-up while hogging that bathroom.

        That company lost nearly $5000 in just her salary, not including any benefits they provide to her, lost production, and client relations (depending on what she actually does). The ripple-effect could be 10x-20x that initial near-$5000 in wages for the year.

        1. Safetykats*

          Yeah, she deserves to be fired. If that is what happens, don’t feel bad about it for one minute.

      3. Argh!*

        There is a wide range of options between “Know nothing/do nothing” and getting fired!

      4. SusanIvanova*

        So she’s not in your chain of command or otherwise able to do petty retaliation? In that case, just move her stuff when you need a sink and practice saying “Sorry” in a tone that conveys “not sorry at all”, and remember that her outrage is not your problem.

      5. tangerineRose*

        What if she doesn’t really work there and is doing some kind of sociology experiment? :)

    9. Argh!*

      Nope, none of OP’s business if the woman is blowing off her employer’s time. The issue is inconsiderate behavior toward other women, and OP should stick to that.

  4. Detective Amy Santiago*

    at which point you would also be justified in weaponizing your IBS toward her, should you be so inclined

    One of these days, I’ll learn not to read Alison’s responses when I’m at my desk where people look at me funny when I burst out laughing. Today is not that day.

    OP, what’s the worst that could happen if you point blank ask her to stop?

    1. Kathleen_A*

      That’s true. She doesn’t have to work with this person, so if the Makeup Queen gets pissy, so what? I like the idea of asking her politely to move, and if she doesn’t, to just barge up to one of the sinks (and who the heck needs 3 sinks?) and say, “Excuse me, but I have to use one of ‘your’ sinks to wash my hands.”

      But you have nothing to be embarrassed about, OP, regarding your using the toilet the way it’s intended. She’s the one who’s doing the embarrassing thing, the slacker.

  5. Nanc*

    As a non-make up wearing, easy hairstyle woman I’m scratching my head over what beauty routine takes an hour? Sure, movie/TV folks may need that long because of the role, but everyday makeup/hair styling?

    I’m sorry you’re dealing with this and I understand the embarrassment–everybody poops but hey, I’m all for doing so with as few witnesses as possible!

    1. nnn*

      I’ve found my makeup takes way longer if I’m working out of a makeup bag rather than doing it at home. At home, everything is in its rightful place on my dresser, whereas with a makeup bag I have to dig for each item. It takes me 8 minutes at home, and 30 minutes working out of a makeup bag.

      1. Just Employed Here*

        It goes way faster if you spread your stuff out over three sinks, though! ;-)

        1. Tardigrade*

          I don’t think I have three sinks worth of makeup (this is a unit of measure for me now).

          1. Catalin*

            I don’t have three sinks’ worth of stuff in my entire bathroom! #ShortHairDon’tCare

          2. Specialk9*

            Yeah, I’m super femme but not girly (Is that a thing?) and I’m equally baffled.

            Foundation, mascara, eyeliner, eyeshadow, blush, lip liner, lipstick. That wouldn’t take an hour, except for a total beginner.

            False eyelashes? Every day?!

            I’m stumped.

            1. Specialk9*

              Ooh, she’s in witness protection and is adding a false latex nose and brow ridge every day.

              1. Specialk9*

                Hair is not makeup though. I would think OP would mention hair if it were part of the hour. It’s its open separate category.

                1. Pomona Sprout*

                  She did mention hair: “a woman from the office next door is spread out across all three sinks, working on her hair and makeup,”

              2. Mad Baggins*

                Takes 2 minutes! Do it while you’re doing your makeup! Do it while you sleep! Don’t do it in the bathroom hogging all the sinks!!!

                (directed at Makeup Artiste, not you)

              3. Trig*

                There’s an admin in my office who regularly does her hair in the office washroom. Granted, hardly anyone actually comes in anymore, and there are few enough women that it’s not a big deal… but her hairspray and perfume are INTENSE. She’ll do it in the morning, then do a touch-up after lunch. I don’t think she’s client-facing.

                And then she spends all day helping plan her friend’s wedding or taking personal calls. I honestly don’t know what her real job is, because other than organizing a golf tourney for her boss a few years ago, I haven’t heard her do any actual work.

                It’s not my business, and it’s only mildly annoying to overhear, so I mostly just try to enjoy the spectacle.

            2. Lara*

              I would be too except I’ve been watching Buzzfeed makeup videos with the fascination of an anthropologist, because it’s all so alien to me. Some people do face contouring, colour correcting, highlighting, baking (tapping excess powder onto your face, waiting for it to ‘bake’ in the heat of your face, and brushing it off), overlining of the lips, cut crease eyeshadow… it’s all stuff I’ve never even heard of!

            3. JustaTech*

              Based on my extensive knowledge gleaned from YouTube you could add in:
              Contouring, baking, highlighting, primer (not in that order). And if you’re using 5+ colors of eye shadow, yeah, that could take a while. But most people would say that’s generally not a day time office look.

      2. WellRed*

        Funny! I take 8 minutes at home digging out of my makeup bag. It really does vary, though an hour I cannot figure out.

    2. grace*

      I wear makeup and do my hair every day – full face (foundation, moisturizer, contour, etc etc etc) – and literally do not take an hour. Maybe if I’m going to a wedding…. maybe. :P

    3. Rebecca in Dallas*

      I don’t get that either, and I wear a “full face” of makeup to work. It doesn’t take me long at home and sometimes if I have to do my makeup on the go, it takes even less time (because I’m trying to hurry and not take up mirror real estate, haha).

      Plus I can’t imagine wanting my makeup all spread out in a public restroom. That doesn’t sound sanitary.

      1. ElspethGC*

        “I can’t imagine wanting my makeup all spread out in a public restroom. That doesn’t sound sanitary.”

        Yeah, this is how you get eye infections and breakouts. I certainly don’t follow proper makeup best practice myself, but it generally includes sanitising everything that makes direct contact with your skin at least once a week (more often preferably), including things like sharpening eyeliners/lipliners so the bacteria doesn’t have chance to sit there. Like I said, I don’t do that, but…putting all my makeup next to sinks? In public toilets? Nope nope nope. If I touch-up in a bathroom, it goes from my makeup bag to my face and back to my bag. No touching actual surfaces. Ew.

          1. Triumphant Fox*

            Wipe them down with alcohol too – especially lip stuff. There are solutions for other implements (tweezers, etc.).

      2. OP*

        The company they use for cleaning the building also doesn’t do a great job (some people from my office have actually gone in and cleaned themselves because they couldn’t take it anymore), so yeah…it is pretty gross.

        1. Ego Chamber*

          So put up a fake notice from the health department about an outbreak of e. coli in the office that was traced back to someone touching their eyes after touching the bathroom sink? (Also maybe one about someone getting chlamydia from sitting on that sink, might as well try to drive off her chatty sink-sitting friend too!)

    4. Her Little Ladyship*

      She’s probably going at a leisurely pace. When I do my hair/makeup before work, it takes me around 30 minutes, but I’m also rushing out the door. If she’s not in a hurry and she has a friend to talk to, I can easily see a normal routine get stretched out to an hour or so every day.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        She needs one of those grooming gowns they wore in the Regency (I think? some historical era) where you would entertain visitors while the maids worked over your makeup and hair for a couple of pre-ball hours.

        1. Nanc*

          If she reads here I fully expect an update wherein she now reclines in a chaise lounge, wearing a regency wrapper while a maid does her make up and hair, taking up further real estate in the shared bathroom . . .

          I might wear make up if I had someone to do it for me and could find reasonably-priced paraben-free options (allergies suck!).

          1. Midge*

            The cost of the makeup is probably incidental if you’re hiring someone to apply it for you! ;)

            1. CM*

              That scenario reminds me of the intern who brought in a cot with sheets and a pillow and blankets for afternoon naps!

              I agree with those who say to just move her stuff aside so you can use the sinks. As fun as all of the snide comments are to read, in real life I would just say, “I need to use the sink, so I’m moving your personal items,” and just pick everything up and put it next to her.

          1. starsaphire*

            Well, it depends on a lot of things. Does the robe part of the peignoir set thoroughly cover the straps on the gown? How sheer is the base fabric, and how much marabou is involved? What about the mules — do they match the peignoir, and are they also covered in marabou?

            We just don’t have enough information to go on, here…

            – DefinitelyNotAlison

          2. SignalLost*

            Dear Alison, I understand that a Victorian wrapper is not intended to be seen by non-relatives unless time is of the essence and there is some call upon my time that prevents me changing out of my wrapper and into day dress after breakfast. However, I am conflicted about how to apply this in the workplace, as Florence Hartley’s Ladies Book of Etiquette is fairly clear that wrappers are best worn in semi-private, intimate places, and of course a shared bathroom is such. May I wear a wrapper to do my makeup, or must I put on my day dress? If so, where should I put my day dress on? My office is business casual, and I am not in California.

      2. Like The City*

        I wear a full face of make up every day and do my hair as well, my hair is shorter but not exactly a wash and wear hair cut and it takes me about 15-20 minutes start to finish. I have no idea what could be taking her this long other than she’s intentionally stretching her time and, as others suggested, spending a good bit of the time talking to someone.

        1. OP*

          Occasionally one of the other girls in her office (who I suspect is also a roommate of hers, based on bits of their conversations) comes in and chats with her.

          She DOES free up sink space so said friend has a place to sit….

          And it certainly takes a lot longer.

          But I swear, they BOTH look at us like we’re insane if we actually come into the bathroom and try to use it for its intended purpose. How is it that ANYONE would find that weird!?

          1. Wherehouse Politics*

            They are doing that bored mean girls cliquey thing where they’ll pick anything you happen to be saying/wearing/doing to mock or to look collectively aghast at. If they stop and give you side eye or attitude, stop in your tracks and ask them what’s up, is something odd here? Like using the office bathroom for it’s intended use? Did I intrude on your personal makeup room? I’d normally just mind my own hours. However, if I saw someone was blatantly stealing an hour daily, taking up needed shared space to do that AND giving me/coworkers attitude in doing so, I’d make it my business and mission to shut that down.

          2. This Daydreamer*

            Have you read the saga of The Office Pooper? It’s linked at the top of the thread. Do not drink anything while reading Alison’s response or the comments.

    5. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      It maybe took me an hour to do my hair and makeup for my wedding. And I had my hair done professionally in a complex updo for prom, which took over an hour at the salon. However, neither look would really be appropriate for the office.

    6. ThatGirl*

      I do wear makeup (primer/base/concealer, mascara, occasionally eyeliner) and it takes me like, 5 minutes. Maybe 10 if I’m being really fussy. I know there are more elaborate routines out there, but an HOUR every day? for WORK?

      1. OP*

        TEACH ME.

        I don’t usually wear makeup (MAYBE concealer and mascara, if I’m up to it that day) because it takes me too long and I am

        1. Marillenbaum*

          That’s actually probably part of why it takes so long–you’re not in practice, so finding the right products, getting comfortable with application techniques, being satisfied with the look all take longer. When I started really getting into makeup (I’d been super-depressed, and I figured having a full face and “done” hair was a way to start tightening up my game at work), I would actually practice applying my makeup in the evenings to get the kinks out. I also watched a TON of tutorials (mostly Jaclyn Hill, but also I would just Google tutorials based on the products I already owned).

        2. Specialk9*

          I find 12 year old girls on YouTube who teach me how to do makeup. I’m amazed that they have learned how to do this to such an expert level, and I’m many multiples of their age and am still such a newbie with makeup. (Sigh)

          I could teach classes though on how to dress stylishly yet lazily!

          1. Media Monkey*

            my niece is 13 and spends hours just putting on make up and taking it off again, copying you tube videos. she has way more time (and inclination) than i do for that sort of thing. i finish my gym class at 6.55 am and am showered, hair washed and made up by 7.25 to eave for the train.

        3. ThatGirl*

          Practice definitely helps. I use powdered mineral makeup, so I tap out a little of each and use brushes — and I start with just a little and add more base or concealer if needed. I also am really used to touching around my eyes thanks to contacts so mascara is easy. Eyeliner took some practice. You don’t need heavy liquid foundation if that’s not your thing, I find powder much easier to work with.

          Definitely don’t be afraid to play around in the evening, especially if there’s a specific thing that mystifies you.

    7. Former Retail Manager*

      If I’m straightening my hair and doing some elaborate eyeshadow look, I can easily hit an hour. But I do it all at home. I cannot imagine doing it at work. We used to have someone who straightened their hair at work. They’d plug in the flat iron and walk out and leave it plugged in for 15-20 mins unattended, right next to the sink that most people use to wash their hands. I always unplugged it under the guise of safety. Quite frankly, I was just annoyed, but it worked. After a month or so, I finally stopped seeing the hair straightener plugged in every morning.

      1. DataQueen*

        I straighten my hair in my office, and plug in the straightener like 15 minutes beforehand. I close my door when i’m going the actual straightening, but it’s open while it’s heating (we aren’t a closed-door kind of place) and i always think it must look so weird.

        But, to clarify, i’d only even do this if i had a special event after work or was getting ready for an important meeting, and if the look i needed was more dramatic than i’d need for work. And I spent 10 minutes doing hair and makeup, not one hour (although i could definately spend that at home!)

    8. Millennial Lawyer*

      A heavy full face (specific eyeshadow looks, contour, baking etc.) with all sorts of technique etc can take an hour – maybe more if hair is included. A more natural “full face” (keep it simple) would definitely not.

        1. Nervous Accountant*

          baking is a technique to set your makeup with translucent powder. You apply it to certain areason the face (I mainly do it on the under eye area but I’ve seen it on cheeks, nose etc). After about 5 minutes (you can do hair, finish rest of makeup etc) you brush it out. It’s supposed to help the makeup last all day and look freshly applied. It’s a little tricky and something I save for like weddings or days I really want to get dolled up, but def not something I’d do on a regular basis. and I do a full face almost every day (and no it doesn’t take me 1 hour!)

          1. Nervous Accountant*

            Forgot to add, there’s no heat tools, but rather the heat from your face that helps it to set. Idk the total science behind it but you’d just use a sponge and big fluffy brush.

        2. Panda Bandit*

          Baking as in smoking funny things?? Now I can see why it would take so long! ;D

      1. Julia*

        Sometimes I feel like “natural” make-up is much trickier to apply.

        But imagine someone walking in on you while you’re baking (half-baked?). One reason why I wouldn’t do make-up at work other than powdering my nose or reapplying lipstick would be the ridiculous half-finished looks and fish faces that happen when I’m in the middle of doing make-up.

        1. Birch*

          Yeah same. The whole point of wearing makeup to work is that people see this version of me, WITH makeup! Not coming in without anything, not halfway through applying.

    9. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Non-makeup-wearer here, who occasionally uses the office bathroom to apply makeup at the end of the day when going out after work. Takes me 5-10 minutes. But then, I only use one sink, so I could be doing it wrong.

      The hair (which I do at home) takes a while longer, but that’s because I have to dry it first, coming straight from the shower. I am pretty confident that I would not be able to do my hair at work, standing in front of a sink. I’d drop the blow dryer on the floor, it would shatter into a thousand pieces, and that would be it.

    10. It Might Be Me*

      I’m in my 50s, wear multiple layers (primer, concealer, foundation, etc.) and still don’t take an hour. This always boggles my mind. Or is her socializing with co-workers also slowing down the process?

    11. peachie*

      Eh, it takes me 20-45 minutes, longer if I’m going somewhere fancy. I’m just slow in the morning! I could throw something on my face in 5/10 if I was running late, but I’ve learned to accept my slowness and get up hella early to have plenty of leisurely makeup time. But I wouldn’t do that at work!

      1. Blue*

        Same! No one seems to get this. I move so slowly in the mornings that I get up even earlier to accommodate, meaning I’m even more tired and move even more slowly. It’s a vicious cycle, but I can’t just cut the prep and walk straight out the door. If I did that, there’s no way I’d be awake enough to people when I got to work! (That said, my hair stylist convincing me to stop washing my hair everyday was seriously the best thing ever. Avoiding the washing/drying/styling cuts my prep time in half.)

        1. SignalLost*

          I don’t wear makeup but I do the same thing. I specifically get up at 5 when I don’t have to leave till 7 (and can get ready in 40 minutes) so that I can read or check my email or catch up on Facebook or play a game or or or or or. I hate feeling like my feet have to hit the floor the second my alarm goes off.

        2. peachie*

          It honestly took me so long to just accept that, even though it shouldn’t take me this long to get ready, I can’t expect myself to be ready in less than two hours.

    12. MissDissplaced*

      I wear makeup, and I think it takes me like 10 minutes tops… maybe 15 if it’s a big night out. This lady is screwing off. And spreading her crap over three sinks is plain rude.

    13. LT*

      I don’t usually wear makeup, either, but if I do, I find that a touch of eyeliner makes a big difference for me. But I put that on when I’m at home, before I leave for the day. I’m trying to figure out why someone would take an hour in an office bathroom to apply makeup (something like “hey, maybe she’s got a house full of kids at home and can’t get a moment to herself”), but c’mon, it’s the office. Who are you trying to impress with your hour-long routine??

      Anyways, I giggled at the “weaponizing your IBS.” And if you can get others to hog the bathroom before makeup hour starts, maybe she’ll get a sense of how much she’s inconveniencing others. Also, LW mentioned there are 3 offices sharing that floor; I wonder how the third office feels. Probably the same way?

    14. Â*

      Just occurred to me that some AAM readers may appreciate hearing how I keep my makeup activities to less than 60 seconds a day (and I am not exaggerating!). If that interests you definitely check out the BOOM pro-age makeup line by Cindy Joseph.

      As far as I know it’s the only pro-age makeup line out there. Cindy is awesome and personable and I love her philosophy, which is about emphasizing the natural beauty that automatically shines through when a woman is happy and enjoying herself. She has turned me – a committed bare-faced girl – into a semi-regular wearer of makeup. And I know she’s helped a lot of others simplify their process. Check it out.

  6. Murphy*

    I always feel bad when I’m touching up my makeup (and I mean a quick touch up!) and there’s someone in one of the stalls, seemingly waiting for me to leave to continue their business. I can’t imagine spending an entire hour (!!!) in there and monopolizing the sink area.

    1. Former Retail Manager*

      Yes…I totally do this. Wait for the other person to leave. I also make an effort to do my business and move on quickly. Our office has some bathroom chatters. I have limits. I’ve told folks that it’s time to move on, from behind the stall. I simply don’t understand why people want to linger and chat in a restroom. Take it to the hallway folks.

      1. OP*

        I have not run into this yet, but one of my coworkers has complained about a woman going into the bathroom and talking on the phone. WHY would anyone want to have a conversation in a bathroom!? Especially on the phone!

        She said if our toilets weren’t motion-detected, she’d flush it a dozen times in a row until they went away. (The mental image of her sitting and standing repeatedly to make that happen with our current system gave me a good laugh, though.)

        1. myswtghst*

          Oh, I absolutely double-flush then run the jet engine masquerading as a hand dryer that I usually avoid for an extra few minutes when I have to deal with people on their cell phones (on speakerphone, no less) in the bathroom at work. I know that people only get so much time for their breaks so they like to multi-task, but that’s a bridge too far for me.

        2. Specialk9*

          One can wave one’s hand in front of the motion detector.

          Just saying. (Whistles innocently)

          1. not really a lurker anymore*

            There’s usually a tiny push button to make it flush on demand. Because motion sensors can fail.

    2. OP*

      I definitely feel bad when I go to brush my teeth after lunch (because it’s another bathroom rush for us). But I also have braces at the moment. It seems that MOST of my food ends up in the wire rather than my stomach (no wonder I’m always so hungry when I get home…).

      1. LT*

        Still, another justifiable reason to use the bathroom! No one should be blaming you for practicing good hygiene. And it’s not like you need 3 sinks to do it.

    3. Argh!*

      Nah, they’re just pee-shy and need some desensitization to get over it. Providing them with more practice is good for them! ;-)

  7. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I know that some workplaces have flexibility, but who can disappear for an hour every morning of every workday without issue?

    Some days I could, but not all the time. Either way, I’d be so far behind on work.

    1. Amy*

      When I worked in a meeting heavy office no one thought anything about people being away from their desks for long period of times. Of course with all the meetings we had there is no way I could have been hanging out in the bathroom every day at the same time for an hour.

    2. OP*

      At my current job, it would be VERY easy to slip away for an hour (or a few hours) and not be noticed. But the company I work for is incredibly unique in its attitude about work/personal time. (Basically, do your best to be in the office the full day, but you can always make up hours missed by working from home. Even then…they don’t look too closely at you if you’re good enough at your job.)

      However, that was not the case at ANY of my previous jobs. I’ve definitely found myself wondering just what she does that makes this possible….

    3. Blue*

      I recently disappeared for an hour to do a skype interview, and no one noticed. I was counting on that, too – I’m not super high on the food chain, but I don’t share an office, and I’m in and out for meetings so much that no one would think twice about my office door being closed. (In an ideal world, my boss would’ve known I was doing it, but he didn’t know I was looking, and this way he only lost an hour of my productivity vs me taking the morning off, and I stayed late to make up for it.)

  8. Temperance*

    LW, you should poop with abandon and wash your hands over her makeup if she won’t move it. That’s just assy.

    1. M from NY*

      This!! You are using bathroom for its intended purpose. Go forth, walk out with your head held high and ignore any complaints when you request that she gathers het material so you can wash your hands. The discomfort belongs to her. A few well timed bathroom excursions from you and your co-workers should be first recourse. Everything doesn’t have to go through HR.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        Seriously. What’s she going to do, complain?

        “Boss, I was doing my makeup this morning, and no fewer than THREE people barged into the office bathroom and rudely attempted to use it. I think Lucinda even POOPED. It was disgusting. I could SMELL POOP, in a public bathroom! Then she insisted on washing her hands, even though I was using all the sinks. Can you please tell her that she’s not allowed to use the toilet between the hours of 9 am and 11 am, so that Fergina and I can do our makeup in peace?”

    2. Amber T*

      This. My mom has IBS, and when you gotta go, you gotta go. It’s so much easier said than done, but don’t be embarrassed by it.

    3. LaurenB*

      So the last question I wouldn’t touch with a 10’ pole. No matter how much everyone else is annoyed by the noisy child, I don’t want to be the person who suggests that maybe Beloved Employee shouldn’t be using the office as a daycare. I know that in my office, suggesting that someone not get some kind of special accommodation that inconveniences other because of life circumstances would brand me the heartless one.

      But this?? I would just inform her she had to step aside and stick my piss-covered hands in her sink. Let her have an attitude. If everyone else you work with is annoyed by her, you can have a laugh about it with your colleagues.

    4. Lauren*

      Yup. Why cater to rude people? You’re just reinforcing the fact that they can get away with it. If she gets snippy that she has to move her stuff SO WHAT. It’s a bathroom. People wash their hands in the bathroom. She’s in the wrong.

      1. Specialk9*

        I’m imagining this ending with a full-arm sweep of makeup onto the floor, then an arms-raised strut out the door.

  9. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

    I suppose it would be too petty and time-wasting to get in there at 9:27, spread a full lineup of makeup and hair products across all the sinks, and go to town on an unnecessarily elaborate hour-long routine before she gets there.

    1. Amber T*

      Dear lord that would be a new level of petty and I would be so down for that… sign me up!!!

    2. Petty McPettyness*

      This makes me see a vision where she then retaliates by getting there at 9:24, then it goes back and forth until the original problem child is getting in at 7:30 to do her routine and not bothering anyone.

    3. strawberries and raspberries*

      I could see this kind of one-up-manship happening on The State.

    4. There All Is Aching*

      Amazing. If OP tries this, please think of us here at AAM and do a running diary.

    5. AKchic*

      I imagined this myself.

      I have enough make-up to cover at least 5 sinks. I’ll share, since I don’t actually *wear* make-up often. I seem to be a hoarder of good make-up.

      1. Specialk9*

        I love reading Revelist — ‘we tried every black goth lipstick so you don’t have to’ — because I was never ever going to try any of them (any of any makeup they review)! But I *love* reading about it.

        This actually seems weird now that I write that.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          I watch a LOT of beauty YouTubers simply because I like it. Am I ever going to actually need the discussion about which white nail polish works the best for nail vinyls? Nope. Nor will I ever actually use any of the tutorials on smoky glittery eyes, or the rainbow hairs, or complex updos…

          But for some reason, they are *fascinating* and I love them.

    6. OP*

      I LOVE how petty this is. I wonder if my coworkers would lend me some of their makeup (because I certainly don’t have 3 sinks worth). We’ll call it a “team-building exercise.”

    7. Parenthetically*

      Just get all the women in the office to start coordinating doing their makeup in there, by turns, starting at 9:25, but EVERYONE leave their gear in there the whole time. Like blow dryers and curling irons and jumbo cans of AquaNet everywhere.

      1. AKchic*

        Have someone guard it all. She may think that she can use it if it’s out and not being watched.

    8. GlitsyGus*

      I was thinking this too. When she came in and got all irritated I’d sweetly sy “Super annoying when someone hoggs all the public space, isn’t it?”

    9. Argh!*

      I could sink lower than that! (See what I did there?)

      At precisely 9:25, *accidentally* spill some lemonade in front of the sink, and if that doesn’t work, spread a little Nutella on the mirrors and sinks the next day.

      “What? Which bathroom? Ohhhh that one! I never use that bathroom in the morning because Princess Popsicle from down the hall always hogs it. Maybe she knows who messed it up.”

    10. LT*

      In my last job, some floors of our (leased) office space had some communal lotions, maybe a basket of feminine products, air freshener, etc. If someone else wanted to try to make it a little fancier, they might bring in a bouquet of fabric flowers. I know that OP’s company doesn’t own the space, but if the building management doesn’t mind, and whoever cleans the bathroom doesn’t mind, then bring in some stuff that everyone can use, or bring in some decor. I mean it’s still an issue of having less space around the sinks, but it’ll be slightly more difficult to fit all of one person’s stuff if there’s already products for communal use already spread out.

  10. Leela*

    I feel you OP! I worked at an office that had one external bathroom, with one stall, shared by several offices. Some woman came in and was easily in there for an hour every day doing make-up, hair, having a plugged-in curling iron that I had to try not to burn myself on, leaving open containers of makeup out on the counter and sighing passive aggressively if any of your hand-washing water got on it (keep in mind, very tiny sink space, it was intended for one person to use), listening to loud music on a personal radio while doing it. She wasn’t from our office and I didn’t know which one she was from. We did use signs but in a surprise to absolutely no one she just ignored it. I tried talking to her once and she got incredibly defensive and pouted and glared any time she saw me in the bathroom after that. I left that job and she was still at it so I’m not sure if a solution was ever reached, but I often wondered if the office she did work at was comfortable having a “self-makeup-putter-onner” on their payroll. I doubt very much that they were

    1. nnn*

      She wasn’t from our office and I didn’t know which one she was from.

      My brain wrote a story where she doesn’t even work in your building.

      1. Rebecca in Dallas*

        Plot twist: she doesn’t even have a job, she just likes the lighting in this random office building better than the one at her home.

      2. Leela*

        That would be amazing! You did need a badge to enter the building but I wouldn’t be too surprised if it was the friend/partner of someone in the office or she otherwise just managed to follow people in. Joke’s on her, that lighting was super harsh neon, no way it was going to be true to color/blend once she walked outside

      3. OP*

        Mine did the same thing. She drives all the way across town every day because Leela’s ex-bathroom has the best lighting.

    2. UtOh!*

      It’s absolutely incredible the power inconsiderate people wield that we cower to their ridiculousness. I sincerely hope, if I ever encounter such a person I would make it a point to do my business and ignore their dagger stares.

      1. Lauren*

        That always amazes me too. Who cares if you upset a stranger who is being rude!!!?? A coworker I get. There’s a dynamic. But a stranger. Forget it.

    3. MissDissplaced*

      Why are people even doing full makeup at work? Don’t people do this at home before going out?

  11. Jesmlet*

    So I take it none of the higher ups at the company are women? Otherwise how has she not been talked to about this? I can’t imagine anyone in management being okay with so much time spent not working.

    1. Ama*

      Maybe her manager isn’t on site. I worked in an office where the head of IT worked in another state. The person they hired to do the direct IT support in our office would disappear for half the work day. My boss eventually figured out he was hanging out with the building super, who also liked to disappear — and who also didn’t have an onsite manager. Both their managers were more interested in being buddies with their staff than actually managing, and they and our senior director were so rarely in our office that they didn’t understand the full scope of the problem, no matter how many times my boss complained.

    2. Allison*

      My manager doesn’t even see me most of the day; she’s told me she doesn’t keep track of when we come in and leave as long as our work gets done. That said, if I pulled something like this, someone from my team would surely catch me and my manager would eventually find out, and she probably wouldn’t be happy about it. This isn’t just about spending an hour not working, this is an hour where she’s not responsive to emails and people who need her are unable to find her, which is one thing if she’s in a meeting, but just grooming herself? Kind of an issue.

    3. OP*

      I wondered that, too, but it seems like most (if not all) of the higher-ups in her office are men. Judging by who’s coming and going.

  12. KimberlyR*

    Use the bathroom for its intended purpose. Wash your hands and move her stuff yourself if necessary. She has abandoned common courtesy and you should do what you need to do without worrying about her. If she protests your moving her stuff, remind her that in a PUBLIC bathroom, everyone has equal access to the space. She knows she is disrupting others but doesn’t care because she gets away with it. So don’t let her disrupt you. And if she dares comment on any smells or noises, give her a look of incredulity and say, “This is a bathroom” as if you were explaining to a small child.

  13. Blackeagle*

    Say, “excuse me”, step up to one of the sinks and use it (moving her stuff if necessary).

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        99% of them aren’t serious – it’s just people indulging in petty revenge fantasies.

    1. Â*

      Yeah, and if she gives you a dirty look you can just point out “Oh! These sinks are for ALL the bathroom users.”

      Tone really matters here. I’m thinking of a surprised / friendly / helpful tone, as in “oh gosh, lemme help you with that honey, I didn’t realize you didn’t know .”

      1. Drew*

        “Bless your heart, darlin’, you can have this sink back as soon as I’m done with it.”

  14. Amelia*

    Not just IBS! I’m in the grips of some serious 1st trimester nausea. I would definitely prefer to spend my 25 minutes or so of puking without a sustained audience. (though it would be interesting to see if she’d continue to hang out with my hideous racket in the background)

    1. Future Homesteader*

      I just made it through that – there is a light at the end of the tunnel! It will end eventually!! Good luck!!

      1. Specialk9*

        Aaaaaallll the sinks!

        What was that Alison said? Oh yeah.

        Weaponize your morning sickness.

    2. Double A*

      I’m well into my second trimester and still throwing up. The nausea and energy is better, but I still hurl! And the only reason I’m not nauseous is because I finally took my doctor’s advice and I take half a tab of unisom at night (12.5 mg) and it’s almost totally taken care of the nausea. But if I don’t take it, I’m still pretty sick. Talk to your doctor, but you don’t necessarily have to just suffer through the sickness. But I’m also a tecaher so being I’ll every morning really isn’t an option, I know some people prefer to avoid any medicine if they can.

  15. Former Retail Manager*

    My husband has IBS, but also no shame (about IBS and many other things…he’ll literally say anything). He has interrupted friendly conversations between men in public restrooms on many occasions to tell them that they may want to take their convo elsewhere as sticking around will likely be most unpleasant. No one has ever not left. If you don’t want to out yourself with the IBS, you could always say you’re not feeling well, which is true. I realize this doesn’t resolve the issue on a long-term basis, but it’s something.

  16. Rat in the Sugar*

    Ugh, yeah, I have IBS and I feel your pain, OP. I often have to dash to the bathroom in the early afternoon after lunch and sometimes I run into people brushing their teeth at the sink. Thankfully they’re pretty quick about it so I can usually hold on til they’re done, and it’s not everyday I run into one of them.

    If it *was* everyday at the same time and they were always there for ages, though…normally I get a bit embarrassed and prefer absolute privacy in the bathroom, but after a while they would be getting treated to a glorious trumpet recital every day. I swear people forget what that room is actually for sometimes! I know it’s probably not what you’d prefer, but I think that reminding yourself “Everybody poops” and then using it as intended is going to be the best solution. Since she works for another company I can guess that this is going to be very difficult to actually resolve.

  17. Midge*

    Since everyone else in your office is equally annoyed with this, maybe you could try a variation of bringing up an issue as a group. Agree with your coworkers that every time one of you sees this woman spread out all over the bathroom that you’ll ask her to move/comment on how inconvenient it is/ask if there’s somewhere else she could do that. I understand that she’s been rude in the past when you’ve asked her to move, but having everyone from your office constantly pointing out how rude and inconsiderate she’s being may have some effect.

    1. UtOh!*

      A group of you should go to the bathroom at the same time, and “freshen” up moving her sh*t as you do so, keep doing it until she gets the idea that the bathroom is not her personal salon! :)

    2. KR*

      This is my thought. She may think every person who politely asks to use the sink is being rude, but she may stop just to get people to stop bugging her

    3. GlitsyGus*

      I was thinking this as well. ALL of you decide that you’re going to call her out. You don’t need to be rude or mean, just, “You need to leave space for hand washing.” “This is a really inappropriate use of public space.” “This is a public restroom, not your vanity.” Just al decide to say something. That’s how people this oblivious learn.

      The other option, if your office is big enough to have a facilities/Office Manager person that is the point-of-contact for the building get that person to help. Most buildings where offices share floors the office managers try to work things out themselves before going to building management, it’s just easier. If your facilities person already has a communication line with the other offices ask them to send a communication to ALL the offices about appropriate uses of the bathroom and that there is someone blocking the sicks for an hour every day for makeup application. I bet you if you do the other offices will ALL start with, “yeah! who does she belong to?? It’s so annoying, tell her to stop.”

  18. Boredatwork*

    OP – I think the best way to approach this (as others have suggested) is to ignore her presence. The more of your co-workers you have doing this, the more likely she’ll stop.

    Stop asking her to move her things, just wash your hands. Hopefully if enough people are dripping water on her make-up (aim for the brushes) she will pack it up and move elsewhere. You are in the right and she’s in the wrong, make this as uncomfortable for her as it is for you.

      1. ElspethGC*

        I’m cringing at the thought of flicking water over open eyeshadows, but I also recognise that it’s not the poor makeup’s fault that it was bought by an insensitive and inconsiderate sink-hogger. Sacrifices must be made.

    1. Bow Ties Are Cool*

      I would totally do the “water-flick” over the sink (and surrounding area–oops!) in this situation before drying my hands. Just trying to save paper towels, amirite?

      1. You're Not My Supervisor*

        I was just thinking this. I’d be shaking my hands off like a wet dog.

      2. BadWolf*

        Or maybe washing my face commercial style when you stylish fling handfuls of water onto your face.

        1. Specialk9*

          Oh Lord yeah. Everyone conspires to do this, one after another. (Sadly impractical bc someone would slip and fall on the gallons of glamour puddles)

      3. Cheesecake 2.0*

        At my work we actually have signs saying to shake your hands off 10-15 times so you don’t need to use so many paper towels. OP should put some up in her office’s bathroom and enlist the whole floor to follow these earth-friendly rules.

      4. MeowThai*

        The correct amount of water flicks is 12. according to science. This is my petty revenge for sure!

        1. Marillenbaum*

          I saw that video! 12 shakes, fold the paper towel (insterstitial layering!)

    2. Samiratou*

      This is the route I’d go. With a side of death glare should she have the nerve to get snippy about people trying to use the sinks for their intended purpose. She’s gone so far beyond rude here that she deserves no consideration or politeness, here.

      Since you don’t have to work with her every day, you could also go the blunt route: “It’s extremely rude to take up an entire sink area for yourself for an hour every day. Apparently nobody bothered to teach you how to play nice and share the toys, but grown ups don’t do this. Grow up. Do your makeup at home like everyone else.”

  19. justsomeone*

    I would buy her a cheap mirror and give it to her with a smile and a “Here, so you can do your makeup at your desk instead of taking up the entire bathroom.”

  20. nnn*

    Conspiracy theory: she’s a corporate spy, eavesdropping on conversations that take place during the bathroom rush. The makeup is just a decoy, to give her an excuse to be in the bathroom for so long and make you think she’s paying attention to something other than people’s conversations.

  21. Shrunken Hippo*

    She is being inconsiderate and rude. Just go about your business and don’t worry about her products being damaged. The worst case scenario is she complains to someone about how people keep wanting to use the bathroom sinks which will lead to her having to explain why she takes up the entire space. Be guilt free in shoving her stuff out of the way to wash your hands and ignore any eye-rolling or complaining she might do; you are doing what bathrooms in office spaces were meant for, she is not!

  22. Susan the BA*

    What if you get a fancy engraved sign that says “RESERVED FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE JUST POOPED” and put it over one of the sinks?? Or, even more passive-aggressive, what if you got a sign that says “RESERVED FOR MAKEUP APPLICATION THAT LASTS MORE THAN 45 MINUTES” and put that on a sink just for this person????

    1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

      You know those feel-good notes people leave on post-its in public places sometimes, like “SMILE, YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL” or something? I’m imagining passive-aggressive twists on those.



      1. Just Employed Here*

        My city did those in parks a few years ago:

        “It is absolutely allowed to pick up your own litter.”

        “Enjoying this park while respecting others is highly recommended!”

        “Do go about your toilet business using the facilities provided — thank you.”

        Polite, informative, and slightly sarcastic — what’s not to like?

        1. Emily S.*

          I like those!

          My ‘hood has a serious litter issue (near a university, and college students just don’t care). It’s pretty annoying. Sometimes I pick up the trash, often I don’t. The dog poop is the worst, but luckily there isn’t too much of that. Broken glass bottles are second-worst.

    2. Yellow Rose*

      How about a sign on the outside of the door that says “Tammy Faye Make-up Session now in Progress”

      1. AKchic*

        “Mimi Bobeck Make-Up Tutorial now in progress”?

        Does anyone actually remember the Drew Carey Show?

        1. General Ginger*

          I want to say Tammy Faye guested on that as Mimi’s mother, actually, but that might be my brain playing tricks on me.

        2. Specialk9*

          The mean one with the blue eyeshadow?

          I felt sad that a fat guy made a show in which he’s the star, and yet made the only fat woman mean and unfashionable.

          1. AKchic*

            Yeah… I haven’t tried watching it recently because I know that I would get mad about the flaws in the show that, as a child, even as miffed as I was, I still laughed.
            So many childhood shows are disappointing through an adult lens.

    3. Samiratou*


      Put that one up over one of the toilets.

  23. zapateria la bailarina*

    there’s someone in my building that curls their hair at work. i personally have never seen her do it, but plenty of times i’ve walked into the bathroom and seen the curling iron plugged in and turned on. i always unplug it lol

    any chance you’re friendly with someone who works in the same company as her? you could maybe bring it up to them and ask them to bring it up to her boss. i doubt the boss even knows it’s happening, what kind of manager would be ok with their employee doing extensive hair and makeup on company time?

    1. Amelia*

      I think it’s really rude/ dangerous to leave a hot curling iron unattended.
      Can you imagine accidentally putting your hand on it? Mine gets up to 400 degrees!

      1. Hey Nonnie*

        Or someone knocks it into the sink as they’re washing their hands. Electric shock ain’t no joke.

      2. Knitting Cat Lady*

        Oh, the person would be in about 50 ways of trouble. Here’s a few:

        -Using an outside electric appliance
        -Using an electric appliance with a heating element
        -Leaving an electric appliance with a heating element unattended
        -Creating a fire hazard
        -Creating a burn hazard
        -Creating an electric hazard

        And heaven help you if anyone actually gets injured.
        That might get you fired without notice even in Germany. And sued…

        1. OP*

          I’m certain the building manager would have a FIT if they found out she was leaving them unattended. Though I’ve never seen the appliances when she wasn’t there. Of course, that doesn’t mean she isn’t sometimes leaving them there alone.

        2. Formergr*

          “Even in Germany” just made me giggle (have dual German American citizenship, so I definitely get it!)

      3. Samiratou*

        Yeah, my facilities people would have conniptions. That curling iron would be gone and there’d be no getting it back.

    2. SoCalHR*

      On the *rare* occasion I flat iron my hair at work, I plug it in at my desk to get it hot and then take it to the bathroom and replug it in so its almost immediately ready to use (and then about 3 mins later I’m done and out of there).

  24. Let’s Get Visible*

    My question is- is she using paid office time to do this? Or is she scheduled to start work once she done? I would think Hr could address this simply by telling her she should get ready for work at home! Not in the office.

    1. Half-Caf Latte*

      Even if she’s doing this off the clock- they’d still be within their rights to say- you can’t monopolize the public bathroom for this, do this at home and come in ready to work.

  25. Linda Evangelista*

    IBS Problems – have been dealing with a bad flare for the past week, one afternoon of perpetual diarrhea and I swear people cycled in and out of the bathroom regularly for ten minutes. Eventually need overcomes shame!
    Anyway, #solidarity

  26. Interviewer*

    You don’t have to justify your coffee/bathroom/schedule/IBS with us, or her. If she’s getting huffy with you about moving her stuff so you can WASH YOUR HANDS after you use the toilet, then you’re not dealing with a very rational person.

    I’d start a regular bathroom break for your office during her makeup time – just a steady stream of people from your office, one right after the other. Keep it up for the whole hour she’s in there, make it Grand Central Station. Everyone needs to use the sink before leaving. See if anything changes.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      In addition to having a stream of people from your office in and out of the bathroom, start having loud conversations with your colleagues as you wash your hands.

    2. Turquoisecow*

      I was thinking y’all should make a line of people waiting in the already small bathroom. Have three women using the stalls and another four waiting on a line and bumping and banging into the makeup lady, “oops, sorry!” until maybe it’s not a quiet place to work on her beauty routine.

    3. TootsNYC*

      and everybody can comment, in a friendly or curious tone:
      “Do you start your workday late? Is that how you’re able to spend so much time on your makeup?”
      “Oh, are you here again?”
      “I hope you don’t get a sty from getting bathroom germs on your eye liner!”
      “Aren’t you worried you’ll knock something in the sink?”
      “Don’t you have work to do?”
      “Wow, you sure spend a lot of time in here.”
      “I tried that brand of makeup, but it made my skin break out.”

      On all of these, don’t hang around for an answer (even though your tone should imply that you think there IS an answer to them, and you’re mildly interested). These are drive-bys.

  27. animaniactoo*

    Honestly, this is the moment when I start planning a group attack.

    She’s been doing this every day during the morning rush? And you guys are trying to politely do it around the standing roadblock? Run over this particular roadblock.

    For as long as it takes to make it too inconvenient for her to continue this routine:

    • Starting at 9:35, people start going to the bathroom every few minutes. No more “alone” time for her. It’s going to be a busy busy space.
    • When it’s time to wash your hands, either don’t move her stuff and wash it, or push off towards another of the sinks. Bonus points if two people can move it aside at a time.
    • When she protests, raise an eyebrow and calmly and as neutrally as possible say “Sorry, this is a shared space. You get one sink, not all 3.” and ignore any yelling or other disagreements. Just repeat “Shared space. Other people need to use it, you get one sink, not all the space.” and then go ahead and walk out and leave her sputtering.

    Allow her to complain to whoever. Because… here’s the key: She doesn’t have a leg to stand on. And her complaints are going to be dismissed if not disciplined depending on who she’s complaining to. Unless she’s smart enough not to complain and just fume.

    Give it 3 weeks. There’s a strong likelihood she’ll start finding another way to handle her makeup routine. If she starts to filter it back in, so do you guys. The goal isn’t to make her realize you guys are “right” or anything like that. The goal is to keep her at bay and no longer “in possession” of the multi-person bathroom space for an hour each morning. Politely, firmly.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Seconding that you don’t need to convince her you’re right; you need to convince her it’s too inconvenient to keep doing it when people keep splashing water on her makeup and chatty friend.

    2. Yorick*

      Even better – make sure 3 people go at a time and she has to move herself so that #3 can wash hands.

    3. Hey Nonnie*

      Or, if she protests: “You’re not seriously suggesting I skip washing my hands after using the toilet?! That’s disgusting!” And make the most grossed-out face you can. Then turn away from her and wash your hands.

    4. AKchic*

      All of this.

      I’d make it extremely uncomfortable for her. Railroad her. If she tries to complain, pout, or give dirty looks, deadpan stare right back. Treat her like a petulant child. “We’re washing our hands because we went to the bathroom. If you need more space, go to your desk, your vehicle, or do your make-up at home like the rest of us.”

      Do not give her an inch. I doubt she will complain. She really can’t. This is a problem of her own making.

    5. TootsNYC*

      as for the comments about washing your hands–I would not go with anything remotely lecture-y.

      Stick to simple statements of fact–and by simple I mean SHORT: “I need to wash my hands.”
      or “This is the bathroom sink.”
      or “The sinks are for hand washing.”

      Boom. That’s all.
      Also, don’t engage; don’t look at her, don’t make eye contact, don’t act as though you are listening to waht she’s saying. You are washing your hands and heading out, and that is all.

      And if you think you need to say something else bcs she’s still making a fuss, simple repeat the same thing, verbatim–don’t switch the line. (that’s a powerful tool, actually)

      (OK, if you’re already done washing your hands, you can switch to “I needED to wash my hands.”)

      1. Helena*

        I’m slightly hard ofhearing, and have (inadvertently) found that reacting as if a rude person has responded reasonably pusses them right off, while making them look insanely unreasonable.

        So go right ahead and wash your hands all over her makeup (not deliberately splashing it but not making any effort to work around it) and if she tuts or makes and comment, just say brightly “oh it’s ok, I can just reach over! I don’t mind!” as if she had apologised. Sunny obliviousness.

        1. There All Is Aching*

          Sunny obliviousness is a trick I can never pull off. Genius suggestion!

    6. not really a lurker anymore*

      I’d see about roping in the other offices too. 80+ women? Yeah, you can make the mornings NOT makeup time.

  28. CatCat*

    The lady sounds like a boor.

    Possible alternative, see if building management would install another mirror can be installed with a shelf below it. There’s a mirror like that in the bathroom at our HQ and I kind of wondered what it was for, but maybe it’s for hair and makeup touch-up without crowding the sinks. You can actually get a lot closer to the mirror there than at the sink, where you’d have to lean over. Just a thought.

    At any rate, I would continue asking her to move her stuff and just let her be a pillbutt about it.

    The passive-aggressive part of me wants to take a waterpik in there with me (they make cordless ones) and “accidentally” hit the button at the wrong moment so spray everywhere. But the reasonable part of me says, I can continue to get what I need (sink access) and not give a crap about how she feels about that or if she is snotty.

    1. Ama*

      We actually have a set up like this in our shared bathroom (we don’t have mirrors above the sinks at all), and it works really well.

    2. Koala dreams*

      I was thinking of the opposite solution, actually. For a short while I went to a gym and they didn’t have any mirrors in the women’s bathrooms. They had a few in the changing room, just like you suggest with a shelf. I didn’t get it at first, but later I thought it probably was planned as a solution to the make-up problem.

      Building management could simply remove the mirros, and suddenly, the bathroom would be less attractive as a make-up room for this lady.

    3. Julia*

      She definitely doesn’t sound like a lady.

      But yeah, most public bathrooms in Japan have mirrors away from the sinks so women can do their make-up without inconveniencing others. (No idea about men’s rooms, though.)

  29. Rhine*

    Could you try getting a group of coworkers together to effectively “bombard” the bathroom while she’s in it? Like have a long string of women all needing to use the sinks over a five, 10, or even 15 minute time-frame, over several days or weeks? It might make the space inhospitable enough that she takes her routine elsewhere.

  30. Rusty Shackelford*

    She has never once seemed to consider the idea that she’s taking up too much room and she gets an attitude if you ask her to move her stuff aside so you can wash your hands.

    Yeah, obviously she’s upset that you’re asking her to interrupt what she’s doing and move her stuff. The considerate thing to do would be to move it for her, before you wash your hands.

  31. Admin Amber*

    If it is another company in the same building sharing the company I would recommend complaining to whoever your office pays rent to. Try to find out who this “woman” is – a great time to utilize the skills of the office busybody in your office. If the landlord says something to that tenant, hopefully they will say something to the makeup queen.
    My other suggestion is to just do what you have to do in the bathroom and possibly eat something that will make it even more smelly. LOL

  32. Libby*

    I’m a totally make-up addict, and I can’t imagine having so many products that it would take up all three sinks. Maybe two if I was doing a full face and hair. Or maybe I’m too used to sharing a room with 3 other cosplayers and we’re mindful to give each other enough space.

    1. ElspethGC*

      All I can think is that she has multiple of each thing. Multiple eyeshadow palettes. Multiple brow products. Multiple concealers. Multiple brushes. (I really hope the brushes aren’t just casually laying on the side of the sink, because…*ew*.)

      I’ve just done a mental rundown of what a real extreme full-glam full face looks like for me, and it tops out at 15-20 products (not counting tools) if I go from moisturiser to setting spay and everything in-between. Most of that is pretty small and compact (eyeliner, mascara etc). That’s really not three sinks’ worth of product. Either she’s deliberately spreading it out to be obnoxious, or she really needs to cut down on her everyday routine.

      1. Murphy*

        Yeah, I’d have to lay out out all the makeup I own (as opposed to all the makeup I use in a day) to take up that much space.

    2. AKchic*

      I hear you. I have enough make-up to outfit an entire troupe. And I do on occasion. And we cosplay too.

      If I am doing full-face, I make sure I know exactly what I want before I take it with me. It will take up as little space as possible. I minimize my footprint wherever I go because I want to be courteous and I want to limit how much I’m carrying around.
      Even in my own bathroom, I don’t take up my entire counter (which is the entire wall of that side of the room). It stays contained. Full-face make-up? Eh, it depends on what I’m doing, but really, for a work-type thing, it shouldn’t take me more than 30 minutes for hair and make-up (and I really hate wearing make-up for work, so I usually don’t. Make-up is a costume/event thing).

    3. A Cosplayer*

      I’ve done a full face of makeup in a convention bathroom and I didn’t take up even one sink – just stood to the side with the empty space on the bench and worked there.
      If you work out of a bag it doesn’t take up much space at all! I’m also struggling to imagine how she manages to fill *three* sinks worth of stuff as even if I spread out all of my makeup I’d take up maybe one.

    4. Oilpress*

      I feel like the three sinks part (and the one hour time frame) is an exaggeration. But taking the letter at face value, if this is indeed all true then just snitch on this coworker to her manager. Who would allow their employee to spend an hour in the bathroom applying makeup during work hours? Only a complete fool would be okay with this.

      And as for the sinks, just use any of the three whenever you want. You don’t have to ask permission. No one is entitled to more than one sink at a time.

  33. MarieMayRose*

    I would talk to your manager privately. Managers deal with funny and awkward issues all the time and will be able to change this. Just mention, “I have observed that this makeup woman takes up all the room at the sinks for an hour in the bathroom and it’s hard to use the facilities because of this.” The manager will be next to race in, check it out and then deal with the makeup woman.

  34. SL #2*

    This letter makes me grateful for the amount of plain counter space we have in our building’s bathrooms. There’s the 3 sinks, and there’s an extra-long counter with absolutely nothing there, and if I need to do makeup after work (usually because I’m going to a social event), I’ll use that. However, I definitely don’t take an hour! It’s awkward enough when a coworker walks in when I’m putting on foundation and they ask me where I’m going tonight and what band I’m seeing and who I’m going with. Lord. I can’t imagine an HOUR of that.

    I have nothing of substance to add to Alison’s advice, though. I did read some advice upthread suggesting popping into Makeup Lady’s boss’s office, saying that you can’t find her, and doing it over and over again with other annoyed coworkers throughout the hour. I liked that one!

    1. You don't know me*

      I used to work with someone who had a gig singing somewhere after work. She would use our bathroom, after her shift was done, and do her hair and makeup. She only took as much space as needed and was done in 20 minutes. She’s even apologize that her curling iron was blocking one of the sinks but there were 5 sinks! This person the OP is writing about is just plain rude.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      I did read some advice upthread suggesting popping into Makeup Lady’s boss’s office

      I originally read this as pooping in Makeup Lady’s office and thought, while I understand the sentiment, it’s taking poetic justice just a teeny bit too far.

      1. an infinite number of monkeys*

        Well, you know, desperate times call for desperate measures.

        On another note, it’s a beautiful thing when one letter to AAM leads so naturally to the next. Not that she seems to be hurting for material…

  35. Hey-eh*

    My makeup routine is 5 minutes, but I can understand the hour long routine. Having said that, ANY kind of “public” makeup application other than lipstick or a touchup drives me BONKERS. I have no reason to be so irked at it, but it really, really irks me. I can’t explain it. I hate being on my commute and having to sit next to someone doing their makeup, rifling through a makeup bag and waiting in between jolts on the train to apply 76 coats of mascara. Or spending 5 minutes blending their bronzer. If I want to watch someone put on makeup I’ll watch Youtube. Also, putting on makeup in public transit or public bathrooms is kind of gross from a “bacteria growing on your makeup brushes/sponges” perspective.

  36. Blue Cupcake*

    Just do what you have to do. Then move her stuff because you have to wash up. Make it unpleasant for her. She doesn’t care that she’s making it unpleasant for everybody else. It’s not her personal bathroom.
    I get embarrassed when *that* happens too and actually carry air deodorizer in my bag, but I would get over it when it comes to this woman. No deodorizer for her. HeeHee.

  37. come on, son*

    my new mantra is ‘please don’t use the bathroom for non-bathroom stuff! sincerely, people who have to do bathroom stuff’

    1. Murphy*

      A reasonable application/touch up of makeup is OK though. This is just going way overboard.

    2. Quickbeam*

      I am disabled and have found the handicapped bathroom at work almost always taken, used for a million things other than it’s intended. Yoga, phone calls, even naps ( it is really large). That means I need to walk all the way to the other side of the building, through the gym to the locker room for another accessible bathroom.

      Our VP asked me once why I was constantly going to the gym. I told him. Somehow he used his magical executive powers to get it to stop. And really, I just want to go to the bathroom.

  38. DanniellaBee*

    For about 8 months I had a contract position that required me to drive 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours or more at night. By the time I would get to the office I desperately needed to use the facilities having eaten a small breakfast and consumed coffee. Most mornings there was a woman standing in front of the mirror and sink doing some sort of stretching. Every single morning. Why are you doing this in the bathroom?!

  39. UtOh!*

    She’s not even using the bathroom in her own office?! Um, no, this needs to be shut down. I would not be surprised if she was told not to use their office bathroom for this purpose, so she moved, to yours. She needs to keep moving, preferably to the fast food public bathroom down the street.

    1. Natalie*

      I’m not sure what you’re envisioning? Most multi unit buildings have one set of restrooms per floor that all the office on that floor share. Landlords don’t build out a bathroom for every little tenant, that would be crazy expensive.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      It sounds like the offices in this building share a common restroom. That’s not out of the ordinary.

  40. goetta_mmmmm*

    I’m clearly a juvenile, but I would 100% put on a show for her. I would moan, and groan and maximize the sound effects (possibly add to them with a recording), maybe do a Redd Foxx Sanford and Son impression “HOLD ON ELIZABETH, I’M COMING!!!!” After that she should seriously flee every time she sees you coming.

    Bottom line is that camping out like she does is rude as hell, and I wouldn’t be shy about asserting yourself borderline rudely back.

  41. Merci Dee*

    The whole time I was using the toilet, I’d be indulging in “revenge” fantasies.

    In my fantasy, I would come sweeping from the stall to wash my hands, as would any sanitary-minded person finishing their business on a Thursday morning. As I stepped up to the sink, I would smile politely and say, “I need to wash up. Can you move those things? Oh, wait, let me lend a hand.” Then I would casually sweep a double-handful of her makeup from the counter top onto the floor, and watch the dismay bloom over her face as the compacts and palettes shatter in slow-motion onto the unforgiving marble floor. Plumes of powered makeup in every conceivable color would dance into the air before drifting lazily back to the floor in a rainbow mix of destruction. It would be =glorious=.

    Then I would come back to my senses, and take a subtler form of revenge. I wouldn’t bother to ask her to move her things; as others suggested, I would just wash my hands as though her cosmetics weren’t even there. But I would make sure that I was a little extra sloppy and drippy with the water that day. Maybe wash all the way up to my elbows, just to ensure I’ve got the last of those squicky germs cleaned away . . . and just to see how much of the counter around the sink I could turn into a virtual swamp of soaked cosmetics.

    I fully admit, I can be petty like that.

    1. Turquoisecow*

      That is the most poetic and beautiful description of falling cosmetics I have ever read.

      1. Merci Dee*

        It would all make the most gorgeous mess ever, wouldn’t it? Powdered eye shadow and blush wafting over the floor in little billows, and lip glosses dripping into rainbow puddles.

        So lovely . . . and so ridiculously hard to scrub completely away. Yikes.

      1. Merci Dee*

        People like to think that the grand, operatic scenes make the best revenge, but they’re so wrong. It’s the little petty bits of vengeance that are so pleasing, for one simple reason – you can still maintain complete deniability if your motives are called into question. And maybe you can get in a little low-level gaslighting when you convince the bystanders that it was all just an unfortunate accident.

    2. Specialk9*

      Clearly this letter has tapped into a zeitgeist! We’re all way too excited to plot revenge.

  42. irene adler*

    Eww. Imagine all the aerosolized bathroom toilet flush “byproducts” floating around the bathroom and landing on all her make-up stuff. And then applying that to her face. Guess that’s something she’s okay with.

  43. Free Meerkats*

    I’m also of the mind that you should just use the restroom for its intended purpose, then before washing up, move her stuff from in front of one of the sinks.

    Maybe organize a dinner at Chipotle for your entire office one evening to ready yourselves for the next day’s “rush?” PRN

  44. MJChomper*

    OP I’m so sorry- I had pretty severe IBS in my early 20s. Thank God it went away after a few years of medication and always eating foods that I knew wouldn’t fly through my body minutes after eating.

    The scenario described sounds all too familiar and I used to DESPISE the person in the bathroom when I walked in, regardless of length of time they were in there (and why they were there). I also started not to care after a while. I’d walk in and if someone (one of the usual culprits) was doing their makeup I’d say kind of sheepishly/nicely, “Do you know how much longer you’re going to be? I have a really annoying stomach issue and you’re definitely NOT going to want to be in here once I’m in the stall.” Usually that made them laugh and they’d quickly gather their products and skidaddle out the door. But I totally understand not wanting to have to do that. It took me a while to get to that point – sometimes I’d go into an empty office and call my mom crying about how frustrating it was and how unfair it was to have to deal with the IBS. This was also a long time ago, most people didn’t even know what IBS was.

    I felt so angry reading this letter because I’ve been there and dealt with selfish people just like this woman. Also, why can’t she do her makeup AT HOME? Or at her desk if doing it at home is too much to ask? SMH. I’d be so annoyed if I worked with her – she’s being paid for an hour of makeup application that other women managed to do BEFORE they get to work.

  45. BadWolf*

    If you think it would overall be better/less annoying for her to do this in the gym restroom, you could try the fake cheerful/helpful routine, “Hey, have you been to the gym restroom lately? It’s got some great space for all of your makeup and isn’t as busy at this time than this bathroom.” Then wash hands enthusiastically. Assuming you could do this in a non-sarcastic tone.

    There is a chance that she hasn’t thought about the gym bathroom and might try it out and might like it better…

  46. Noah*

    Install a lock and keep the key in your company’s office? I imagine the landlord wouldn’t like it, but you could deny doing it! (Just kidding, don’t do this.)

  47. Lucille B.*

    Between this letter and the kid in the last letter, I think Alison needs a new “bleep that” category. That has been my reaction to both letters.

  48. You don't know me*

    All this talk of IBS has me curious. A woman I used to work with (I was her supervisor) told me she had IBS and if she was having an issue with it she would let me know she might be away from her desk for a while. She’d signal me by catching my eye and pointing to her belly as she walked away. I have no issue with this. Here’s where it gets weird. I found out she was leaving our office building and going to the hotel across the street to use their bathroom. I thought IBS came on fast and strong? She had time to walk to the elevator, wait for it, make her way through our lobby, cross the street (two ways, the hotel was kitty corner to our office), make her way through the hotel lobby and down a flight of stairs to get to their restroom.
    Is this normal behavior? Even if she didn’t want to use the bathroom on our floor, there were other bathrooms in the building available to her. I thought IBS was a gotta gotta go gotta go right now type of situation?

    1. Temperance*

      It’s different for everyone.

      At my first post-college job, we all used to go to different floors to poop. Kind of silly, but the whole building did it. The women on the 2nd floor would use our bathroom, and we would use theirs. Plausible deniability, I guess.

    2. RPL*

      Yeah, very, very different for everyone. When I’m having an IBS episode, I have a lot of warning time (an hour plus of the most intense abdominal pain I’ve ever felt–good times) before it gets to the gotta go gotta go phase.

    3. Von Halkein*

      Varies person to person, even day to day. It’s possible your report would have cramps well before immediate toilet needs, in which case she was being both proactive and considerate. (Well, maybe not to the hotel.) If she felt embarrassed about using your building’s facilities—listen, IBS sucks and it hurts and there’s so much useless shame tied up in it. Lots of people go to some lengths to disguise it.

    4. Kyrielle*

      IBS comes in a few forms – diarrhea, constipation, or combined (day to day you could end up with either of the aforementioned!). For some people/episodes it may also be preceded by significant cramping and/or gas.

      If you’re going to be in the stall a long time (constipation can do that, but so can diarrhea, and ew) then you might want a bit of privacy for that. Or if, um, when it finally hits it’s going to be loud and dramatic.

      *Mine* usually hits fast enough that I just need to get to the closest restroom – and that had better not have an elevator between me and it. But it’s not the case for others who deal with it.

    5. MissDissplaced*

      It can come on sudden, but with some warning signs (growling and rumbling). And yes, some people go to great lengths to find out of the way or little used toilets, especially if they can feel a bad attack coming on. Across the street seems a little much? But maybe it wasn’t used much and/or was less embarrassing to not run into people. It can really be horrible sometimes.

  49. Observer*

    If / when you talk to your boss or building management, you don’t even have to bring up your IBS if you don’t want to. The woman is taking up ALL of the sink space for an hour! That’s utterly unreasonable at ANY time during the business day, even if everyone has perfectly behaved stomachs. People still need to use the bathrooms AND sometimes people even need to wash their hands for non-bathroom reasons. The horror!

  50. miyeritari*

    When I think of what happens when your “IBS is weaponized,” I do not want to upset that person.

    1. Kyrielle*

      The problem with weaponizing IBS – in my view, anyway – is that anything I do to make it worse will make me suffer (in pain) more than everyone else does (in sound and smell).

      On the other hand, I’m certainly not going to hold back or minimize if someone is doing something this ridiculous.

      1. miyeritari*

        I mean, presuming you’re not generating any more than your base suffering from IBS, you have a net suffering gain of 0 (you still have IBS), but you have increased someone else’s suffering significantly.

        It’s possible this only makes sense in my head.

      2. Argh!*

        I have to admit, I’m not above letting out the fart I’d been holding in if one of the rude people from our IT department gets in the elevator with me. They’re so patronizing, I can’t imagine they’d think less of me for it, and it makes me smile on the inside.

        Yes, it’s come to that.

  51. Non-profiteer*

    We had a very similar situation in my previous office – so similar that I would be wondering if it were the same person, except that this woman was very nice, and she WOULD move if you asked her to. Our bathroom also had a separate mirror area without sinks, so she wasn’t in the way as much. But she would camp out there for an hour, doing her makeup and hair, and talking on speaker phone to one of her children. And you could tell she spent that long on her makeup, because…it was a LOT of look when she was done.

    One time someone put a post-it note on the mirror that said “you’re beautiful just the way you are.” It was the talk of the office for a week, but it didn’t change any behavior. Ultimately, this only changed because her office moved to a different floor. I imagine she’s still setting up shop there today if she hasn’t been fired for wasting so much time. Which would be a shame, because she was genuinely a nice lady, and a good mom to her kids. How did we know this? Because we were a part of so many of her conversations with her kids…because they were being held on speaker phone…in the bathroom…

  52. Student*

    Since this is a recurring thing and she is taking up all three sinks, I would just shove her stuff to one side and use the sink for its intended purpose. I’d do this if she occupied two or more sinks. I’d leave her one sink to monopolize. If she huffs when I shove her stuff out of the way, let her huff and tell her outright that she’s being unreasonable to use up three public-use sinks at once (no matter what she is using them for). “Nope. This is a public restroom – you get one sink and you have to let us use the rest. That’s common-sense.”

    She gets angry past that? I’d throw her stuff in the trash right in front of her. Won’t start there, but I would end there if I needed to make the point.

  53. CG*

    I am enjoying the hypothetical schadenfreude of many of these suggestions! To add to them: is there a way to take the mirrors out commission for a day or two? I’d be inclined to cover them in Post-its or something, which I realize would only add to the people-doing-not-work-on-work-time problem.

    1. Ophelia*

      Or laminate them with colorful cling wrap, and put up official looking signs noting that it can’t be removed.

    2. small jar of fireflies*

      In my heart of hearts, I want this to happen somewhere I can reach the light bulbs. Replace with blue or green novelty bulbs.

      If there are two, replace the right one with yellowish lighting and the left one with bluish lighting, one dimmer than the other.

  54. Master Bean Counter*

    I would ask, “Are you going to move that stuff before I wash my hands?”
    If the answer is no, then just go ahead and wash your hands. Me being short, would result in a lot of things getting brushed by my elbows and ending up on the floor.
    But then again I once soaked somebody’s newspaper because they didn’t think that me washing my hands was more important than them staring into the mirror over their unused sink.

    1. AnonyMouse*

      Or just start moving it for her with your unwashed hands. Normally I wouldn’t advocate for this, but I feel like this woman is asking for this to happen!

  55. A tester, not a developer*

    We had a related issue in our (large) company – women were using the handicapped stalls as a private change room/makeup studio/hair salon. I can understand why they did it – the stalls are much larger than the average, and have a private sink and counter with plugs. There’s not a lot of us handicapped stall patrons that are actually in wheelchairs – but a bunch of us have health or mobility issues that make it very difficult to use the regular stalls, so it was causing some serious potty emergencies.

    We put up signs; they got taken down. So we went to HR about it. A nationwide broadcast email went out (to over 2000 employees!), and official corporate branded signs were put up on the handicapped cubicles reminding people that they should be using one of the many locker rooms on site for non-bathroom activities.

    Once the email and the signs went out, everyone became much more comfortable about shaming women who were misusing the stalls. And those of us who really needed them were no longer embarrassed to knock on the door if we could see that someone was changing, or doing their hair, and asking them to hurry up.

    We don’t have a bathroom abuse problem anymore.

  56. AnonyMouse*

    Between the mom bringing her kid to work from 4-5 pm and this letter, it seems like the theme of today is people getting away with not actually working while at work for an hour or more (I guess it’s debatable if the mom was getting work done or not in the last letter)

  57. Â*

    Normally I agree with Alison’s advice to be straightforward and direct. However I think this situation really calls for going to her as a group, so that one individual isn’t singled out as a “troublemaker” (in her eyes). But going to her as a group in the bathroom would be weird!!!

    Plus, it’s not like you have any real recourse about this through professional channels. Unless you know her manager and already have a friendly relationship with them, it seems pretty over the top to approach it through that angle. And it could get really weird if her manager is male. It’s already a super awkward topic for anyone, and he presumably won’t have firsthand experience encountering her doing this, so unless he’s a really skilled manager, forget it.

    You might consider writing a short letter and getting multiple “signatures” on it using only initials (E.J., R.L., C.J., W.P. and so on). Use different handwriting and different colored pens. Get as many people to sign on as you can, so that she can see that a lot of folks agree with this view.

    Then post it smack in the middle of the mirror, and leave it up to her how she wants to respond.

    Here’s one idea:

    Dear Makeup Artist! (<<— this part in big bold letters so she can’t miss it)

    We, your fellow bathroom users, have noticed that you take up all three sinks for a full hour on a daily basis. This interferes with our ability to use the bathroom for its primary intended purpose in relative privacy and obscurity – a quality most users of public restrooms treasure!

    We would like to ask that you put on your makeup somewhere else. At home, in your car, in your office, or in the gym downstairs are all viable options.

    If for some reason you cannot do that, at the very least please leave two sinks available for the rest of us while you are in here.

    We’re sure you don’t intend to be causing such inconvenience to so many people. Now that you’re aware that you are, we hope you will choose to handle your daily ablutions another way.

    While this is a bit of a public shaming, I’m not sure it’s any worse than what she’s doing – especially if your letter is kind and you give her credit for not intending offense (whether or not you feel that’s warranted).

    I know Alison is generally against anonymity, and I almost always agree. But I think this is a rare case where anonymity may be warranted. And I’d guess it would get her to change her behavior without too much of a terrible sting. Yes, she will probably always wonder which other bathroom users signed on to this. But that will probably motivate her to spend less time in there!

    I’d sure love to read her letter to Alison after you do this…

    1. Â*

      Just read the note from “A Tester, Not a Developer” above, and that seems like it might be a good alternative way to handle it if there is a central facilities manager for the building. The point of having something in writing is to make it easier and more comfortable for people to just say “step aside sweetheart” when they need to use the sink.

      1. Â*

        You’re welcome OP. I hope it helps!

        Regardless of whether or not you use this approach, I’d sure be curious to hear an update on this one.

      2. Argh!*

        FYI in case you use this, “ablutions” means cleansing, and is totally allowed in a restroom.

  58. Newlywed*

    I would say just talk to the woman! Start off with the assumption that she isn’t intentionally or maliciously being rude, but just doesn’t understand the extent to which she is inconveniencing people. That may or may not be true, but going into a conversation with a more positive view of the person usually produces a more positive outcome for both parties. You don’t even have to go into your particular issue, you can just say that there are a few people in the office that have medical issues and need to be able to expect sink availability (or something like that). She might surprise you and be accommodating! If not, you can move onto other more…aggressive methods of dealing with it.
    Also, I know this won’t necessarily assist with sound, but poopouri has been a lifesaver for me in shared bathrooms. You may want to consider getting some for your own personal comfort using a public restroom (since that seems to be a small part of the issue as well).

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Yeah, that wouldn’t deter me. I’d just get pissy right back. LW doesn’t work with her so she doesn’t need to worry about preserving a working relationship.

  59. Lady Phoenix*

    If she works there, then let her boss know what is up. She is [possibly] taking up company time, taking up company space, and verbally assaulting anyone who tries to talk to her.

    In the meantime, everyone else should make it harder on her. Move her stuff or use the sink with her stuff on it. If it gets messed up, that is on her for being a selfish boor.

  60. BadWolf*

    The beauty of this is…if the person complains, it all comes back to looking bad on her.

    “Then she wanted to wash her hands and I had to move my stuff.” Um, yeah, move your stuff
    “She got my compact wet” “Oh, did she not use one of the free sinks?” “Er well, she could have been more careful.”
    “I’m in there doing my makeup and she’s going #2” “Um, yeah, it’s the restroom.”
    “I’m in there and 20 minutes later, it still smells.” “Wait, you were in there for 20 minutes? Hope everything’s okay.”

  61. Mananana*

    Any chance of taking a picture of the bathroom sink area (not the perpetrator) while exclaiming “I had to take a picture because my friends didn’t believe this is actually happening!”. Then smile and walk away. Tapping furiously on your phone so she’ll think you’re sharing it.

    1. Argh!*

      I had that idea too, or holding up a smartphone and pretending to livestream. “Hi Facebook friends! See? I told you so! There really is a woman at my building who takes up all 3 sinks in the bathroom to do her face! Got any questions for her?”

      “My friend Sally wants to know if you’re a burn victim.”

      “Josh wants to know if you’re single.”

      “Jesse wants to know why it takes you a whole hour. Jesse is a drag queen and it only takes him 30 minutes! He says he could give you some time-saving tips.”

  62. Nicole*

    I am petty and gross, so I would make it a point to start eating burritos for lunch and letting loose in the bathrooms while she’s in there. Between the sound and the smell, hopefully she’d get the hint.

    IBS sucks though, sorry OP.

  63. Auburn*

    Confronting someone who is rude like that one on one is unlikely to go anywhere but I would absolutely not hesitate to confront her with a group. Next time you catch her in there grab 3-4 people from your office and go talk to her together. “hey, look, I am sure you aren’t trying to inconvenience anyone but it’s bothering a lot of people in our office that you camp out in here every morning. We’ve all be discussing it and honestly we felt we owed you the courtesy of speaking with you directly rather than just complaining. Would you please find someplace else to take care of this?” It will be much harder for her to dismiss a group. Keep it courteous even if she gets rude in her response. It’s a reasonable request. Worth a try.

  64. Just me*

    Instead of asking her to move her things, just use the sink as normal, over top of her things. If her stuff gets wet, that’s her problem. Perhaps she will learn to keep her stuff to one sink if she has to buy a few new compacts after they get splashed.

  65. Call in the Calvary*

    Want to rid yourself of this petty woman? Get an army of women together to create a “bathroom chain.” Go in, do business (or not) , wash hands, enmasse! That’s right…grabs some girlfriends and go in one right after another, at the same time, to give her the stink eye.
    Make it a daily thing. Enlist others. Make it a parade.
    When she whines or complains, state, “Oh, this is a restroom. Not a parking lot for doing make up.”

  66. Radio Girl*

    This is so inappropriate. She isn’t being paid to put makeup on. This should be done at home.

    Everyone should tell her so.

  67. Rick Tq*

    Please don’t get a can of Lysol spray or air freshener and ‘sanitize the counters’ when this creature has covered them with her stuff. Especially if they are all open/uncapped at the time…

  68. Lisa*

    As someone who struggled with ulcerative colitis for 10 years, what I would do is go into the bathroom to poop and do it while she is doing her make up. Farts, smells, and all. I’d probably do this every day for a month.

    1. Argh!*

      …and if you can’t supply it yourself, bring in your smart phone & play those sounds while spraying fart spray!

  69. Ruthie*

    We had this exact same problem at my office! A woman at another employer on my floor was almost always (seriously!) in the bathroom fixing her makeup. It was a smallish bathroom, and we had to navigate around her to get to the towel dispenser because she would back up to check her application job from different angles in the light.

    It turns out the office was a temporary space before their new space was renovated on a different floor, so she was only around for a few months. But at the time we didn’t know that. We joked about buying a desktop makeup mirror and leaving it in the bathroom over the holidays. But honestly our plan was to do nothing and just suffer through it. Because honestly her behavior seemed more compulsive than anything else, and we felt a bit bad for her.

    1. Ruthie*

      Reflecting more about this, I think there is something to the behavior being compulsive, and I wonder if the OP’s bathroom hogger is similar (I’m actually dying to know if you work on Eye St. in DC). Given that, some of the more aggressive tactics suggested may actually be pretty cruel.

      1. jo*

        Yeah, either an aggressive or passive aggressive approach could backfire and be unwarranted here. That’s why I’ve suggested a very, very direct approach below. It doesn’t matter why someone feels compelled to do this; they can still be told to stop in a matter-of-fact way. This isn’t a behavior that needs to be accommodated. The person has to find another solution.

  70. Argh!*

    I agree with the suggestion to approach her as a group, either in writing or in person.

    But I love the passive-aggressive suggestions even more. I know none of us would do any of them.

    I also now know that I have the most evil mind here! I’ve posted a few ideas above, but I haven’t seen this one:

    Sneak some nutella into the stall with you and spread some on your fingers. Then go to the sink and start moving her stuff around. “Sorry, I really need to use that sink, do you mind?” ** shove shove ** stain stain *** smeeeear ** OOPS!

    If that doesn’t work, the next day, do the same with theatrical fake blood (barbecue sauce that doesn’t have a strong smell could also work if she has lots of scented product).

    If that doesn’t work, do you really want to use that restroom?

  71. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesInYourHouse*

    I’m amazed at all the time people spend doing makeup. I wash my face, make sure my hair is clean and brushed and go. Not disrespecting makeup, it seems like way too much work. As long as I’m clean, presentable, and neat, I’m dood.

  72. Imaginary Number*

    Public/workplace restrooms: people seriously need to do their business and get out. Running a comb through your hair, fixing lipsticks, removing a wedgie. Those are all acceptable non-toilet activities. Unless it’s using the toilet or dealing with some other physically/medically necessary activity it should be in/out.

    The worst one to me is people who use bathrooms like their private phone booth. I seriously cannot pee while someone’s on the phone in the bathroom (worse, speakerphone.) There’s just a mental block there where my body is like “nope, not now.”

    1. Windchime*

      There was a woman in our work restroom the other day, standing there and silently texting. Just standing and texting. There is a giant, sparsely populated hallway just on the other side of the door, but she was doing her texting while I was sitting on the pot. Good times.

  73. cleo*

    Maybe the LW has already tried this, but I wonder if a charm offensive might be more effective. Compliment something (I love that shade of eyeshadow), introduce yourself (I’m cleo, btw. I know I’ve seen you before but I don’t think we’ve officially met), and chit chat. Repeat a few different days. Then explain in a friendly manner about your office schedule (we get in at 6am) and the rush hour and ask if she do it another time

    1. jo*

      This approach could work, except they shouldn’t ask her to do it another time because doing it at any time in this type of shared work bathroom is unacceptable (except maybe at 7-8 pm when you have evening plans and virtually everyone is gone for the day). Another *location* is what should be proposed: the gym bathroom, a grooming station set up in her office, or–AHEM AHEM–her home!

      I try not to judge because I too have needed to groom in the office bathroom, particularly on days I biked to work, but an hour is too long. If this woman has some compelling reason she needs to get ready in this specific bathroom, then she has GOT to come up with a less elaborate grooming routine. And it needs to be more compact. She cannot take up three sinks at any point in time.

  74. Lulubell*

    Have you ever thought about just asking her directly? “I’m so curious,” you say with a smile. You are her ally. “I see you in here so often applying your makeup – is there a reason you like this space for it? Is it good lighting?” And see what she says. It might not solve the problem right away but she’ll know she’s on watch. And it points out that it’s not s normal thing to do. You can work in the locker room suggestion if it makes sense.

  75. AsItIs*

    Change out the bathroom light bulbs to a lower wattage, or exchange several for burnt-out ones.

    1. Chickaletta*

      Totally. I’m all for the friendly, direct approach that AAM proposes. But if that fails, make it an uncomfortable space for her. Bad lighting, unpleasent smells (why she carves time into her day to spend an hour in a public restroom is weird already), whispered conversations, unrestrained requests to have her step aside to access the sinks…Make her feel as uncomfortable as she makes everyone else feel. She’ll probably get huffy, but I bet it stops.

  76. Nox*

    So as this person’s manager I would totally want to be informed that one of my people is in there hogging up a bathroom for an hour for essentially an extra break cause you know she’s still taking her hour to stuff her face with food daily.

    So I’m losing 2 hours of production everyday, which is not acceptable.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Whoa there. If she’s entitled to an hour for lunch, she’s entitled to an hour for lunch. You’re not losing an hour of production that she “owes” you. And the “stuff her face” remark is really bizarre. Do you think that about everyone who deigns to take their lunch hour? I agree that taking an additional hour of work time (which we can only assume is the case) is inappropriate, but please back off on referring to a lunch hour as “lost production.”

  77. Sarah*

    Since she comes in every day at the same time get a few other women together and go in 5 minutes before bring in makeup and hair spread out on the sink and when she comes in stand and do yours even if you are just brushing and blending. Give her what she puts out she will likely have a complaint but she most likely cant take 2 hours for this.

  78. jo*

    What do you have to lose by simply telling her off? You don’t work with her, she isn’t your friend, and there isn’t any built-in mediation system (like a shared manager or HR) that you could use instead, so a direct approach is both needed and warranted. I don’t mean you should suddenly lose your cool and yell or swear at her, but I think you’d be within your rights to march up to her and tell her frankly, “Your hour-long grooming sessions are totally inappropriate for a shared work bathroom, and you’re inconveniencing and annoying a lot of people. Please cut it out starting right now. If you can’t get ready at home, there is a gym bathroom downstairs you can use.” If you don’t feel you can bring yourself to do this, find your most assertive coworker and see if you can deputize them. (I would totally be that assertive coworker! It would be my genuine pleasure!) Maybe you can go into the bathroom as a pair–definitely do that if you have any concern this woman might, say, whack a lone complainer with her curling iron.

    If she gets an attitude or is rude, who cares, as long as she gets out of the way.

    If she refuses, you can say, “This is a totally reasonable request, and I have no problem referring it to management at your company.” And then do it, the very next time you see her.

    In this kind of situation, a good outcome means getting the person to stop doing the thing. Unfortunately, it usually cannot mean the person is nice and unruffled about stopping doing the thing.

  79. Easily Amused*

    There are actually OSHA standards on how many toilets are required for a certain number of employees and, while I don’t remember the specifics (I looked it up once when lines were starting to form at work due to increased hiring), 3 stalls for 80 women doesn’t seem sufficient. It might be a bit of a passive aggressive way to open the dialogue to management that there isn’t enough room for everyone trying to do their thing in there.

    Makeup for an hour? Unless she’s a background zombie on The Walking Dead, I cannot fathom that kind of time spent. Also, she’s rude.

  80. Em*

    I just finished reading the coffee wars thread, and this made me think of the worker who would eat and drink other peoples’ food, including right from their cups. I wonder what would happen if a few people started treated her makeup as communal or as samples. E.g. pick up an eye shadow or whatever and swipe some on your hand to test/admire “Oh, I love this colour!” “I’ve always wanted to try this.” “This shade doesn’t suit me.”

  81. Debster*

    Ugh. We have several of these women on my floor. I just go ahead and wash my hands. If their things get splashed, oh well. There’s another lady who sits on the toilet for an hour & does her makeup in there! *shivers* I’m surprised she hasn’t gotten pink eye.

  82. Denise*

    Does she not start work until 10:30? I would not want one of my employees coming in and then spending an hour on make-up. It should be done before work starts.

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