How to Wear Makeup So It Doesn’t Get All Over Your Mask

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At this point in the year, protective face masks have become a daily accessory. And while some have used this time to take a break from makeup altogether, others are trying to adapt their routines so they can still wear some color without having it get all over the inside of their masks. Ahead, five makeup artists share their top tips for mask-proofing your makeup.

1. Skip foundation if you can. 

“The only foolproof way to keep makeup from getting on your mask is to keep your application to your eyes, lashes, and brows,” says Katey Denno, a celebrity makeup artist based in Los Angeles. “But if you can’t skip foundation, choosing an oil-free or less emollient formula can help minimize transfer. I’d also avoid applying any moisturizers or cream underneath.”

Your tool kit: L'Oréal Infallible Fresh Wear 24HR Foundation ($15); Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation ($35); Exa High Fidelity Foundation ($38)

2. Spot conceal. 

“Another way to reduce the amount of makeup transfer you get on your mask is to skip applying foundation all over your face and just apply concealer where needed,” advises Monika Blunder, a celebrity makeup artist (whose work you’ve seen on Jessica Alba and Gemma Chan).

Ideally, you should only stick to the areas of your face that are exposed with a mask on—like under your eyes and over any blemishes on your temples or forehead. Tap the concealer onto your skin in light layers and use a blotting paper to remove any excess oils from the surface.

Your tool kit: Tatcha Aburatorigami Japanese Blotting Papers ($12); Clé de Peau Beauté Concealer ($73)

3. Set everything in place.

“After you apply your base, lock it in with translucent powder and finish it off with a strong setting spray,” advises Savannah St. Jean, a makeup artist who specializes in bridal makeup and owns Savannah Rae Beauty, a full-service studio in Florida. “By focusing on oil control, you limit the movement of your makeup, and in turn reduce transfer to your mask.”

Rae recommends: Skindinavia Bridal Makeup Setting Spray ($22)

4. Focus on your eyes.

“Honestly, I think this is a wonderful new direction for makeup, seeing as how many of us have been weighing down our skin for so long,” adds AJ Crimson, Founder & CEO of AJ Crimson Beauty. “Now is the time to play up your eyes and try it all—smokey eyes, graphic liner, colorful shadow—it is all about the eyes this season.”

Opt for a shimmery shadow for a subtle, everyday look or a bright pop of eyeliner for more of a statement. Finish with a generous application of mascara to really open up your eyes.

Your tool kit: Sephora Collection Retractable Waterproof Eyeliner ($13); RMS Beauty Eye Polish ($28); Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara ($28); Westman Atelier Eye Pods ($88)

5. Don’t forget your brows.

After all, they do frame your face. “For those who want a lighter brow, use a pencil to fill in any sparse areas with light strokes,” advises Denno. “Begin at the arch and work your way to the tail. Then, stand back from the mirror and survey the way it looks before filling them in any further. If you’re too heavy handed, you can inadvertently create an angry look,” she cautions.

For those who want a denser application, use a brow pomade instead. Denno applies it with an angled brush to carefully draw in hair-like strokes where there are none.

Denno recommends: EcoBrow Brow Defining Crayon ($26) and Brow Defining Wax ($26)

6. Rethink your lipstick.

“Now is a good time to treat your lips,” says L’Oréal Paris celebrity makeup artist, Sir John. (He’s also Beyoncé’s go-to artist for performances, so you know he’s well-versed on budgeproof makeup.) He recommends exfoliating them with a DIY mask using brown sugar and honey.

“In terms of color, I recommend using a lip stain, which won’t get all over your cheeks or chin when you take off your mask,” says John. “A peek of color on your lips can offer a much-needed pick-me-up and make you look more alive and well when you’re settled in a place where you can take off your mask.”

Denno, Rae and Crimson are also proponents of a lip stain (or a liquid lipstick if you want more color). “You have to let it dry down first, but once it feels dry on your lips, it really does a good job of staying put,” says Denno. 

Jenny Jin Headshot Vertical 2023

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...