On the subject of public grooming, oh yes, there is worse than tweezing out your grey hair during a flight. One word: stink. And I'm including perfume in that category.
The thing is that you can get away from the sight of unpleasant public grooming simply by averting your gaze or closing your eyes. That doesn't work so well for a strong smell, whether it's an icky perfume, wretched body odour, or peeled bananas (gross).
For me, anyway, the flight response (no pun intended) kicks in so fast that I'm out of my seat before I know what's happened. I nearly did that yesterday at Pearson when some chippie soaked in some gaggingly-sweet floriental perfume sat next to me in the lounge. Thankfully, she and I were nowhere near each other on our seven-and-a-half-hour flight.
6 be-kind-to-others travel guidelines that some people need (not you though):
1) For the love of God and humanity, take a shower and wash your hair just before you leave on a big trip. Several hours in cramped quarters and recycled air is only going to make the smelly worse. Gah.
2) Load up on anti-perspirant. Travelling is stressful -- crowds, long line-ups, mean customs people, irritated fellow travellers, delays, temperature swings from icy cold to insufferably hot... maybe now's a good time for a clinical-strength anti-perspirant. I don't care if you hate the stuff, wear it at least when you travel in close quarters with other humans.
3) Skip the perfume. Okay, I confess -- I totally sprayed myself yesterday around noon with my obsession, Sunday Cologne eau de parfum by Byredo. But Sunday Cologne doesn't have a lot of staying power; I knew that by the time I hit the airport at 5:30, there'd be no trace of the scent on my skin. And in that airport lounge, I refrained from revenge-spraying myself with the tester I keep in my purse because I also know this truth: although I swoon over Sunday Cologne, someone else might find it as offensive as I find vanilla/gourmand/oriental/floriental scents.
4) Wear clean or freshly laundered clothing. If you've ever been in a taxi driven by a stinky driver, you know what I mean. Some people don't seem to understand that body odour likes to hang around in clothing until it's been laundered. Doesn't matter that the body in the clothes has recently bathed -- malodorous fabric doesn't shut up until you drown it in soapy water.
5) If you must pull a Lisa Eldridge and give yourself a spa facial on your flight, at least try to use products that have little or no scent. I made a mistake in bringing a travel-size bottle of Dermalogica Multi-Active Toner. Its fresh scent is quite subtle, but still might be too much for someone seated beside me (thank goodness, empty seat this time). A plain thermal water spray would have been a better choice. (And if you're on a long flight, wait until the lights are down and folks are asleep to get all skin-primpy.)
6) Brush your teeth. Whether it's garlic breath or morning breath that happens while you're still awake -- GAH. Fix it.
Have I forgotten any public grooming issues? Beauty etiquette infractions? Other than farts -- ewwww.