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How to do your makeup while wearing a face mask

Celebrity makeup artists to Jennifer Lopez, Alicia Keys, Rachel Brosnahan and others share their pro tips and product recommendations for long-wear makeup.
Woman wearing a mask and applying mascara. Scott Barnes and more celebrity makeup artists recommend the best long-lasting makeup to wear while wearing a face mask during Coronavirus 2020.
Since face masks cover a significant portion of your features, some people are forgoing makeup altogether, at least while wearing a mask in public. Others are pivoting their focus away from bold lip colors, contoured cheekbones and flushed cheeks.Yuricazac / Getty Images

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Bronze skin, dewy cheekbones and vibrant lips are the usual beauty calling cards for the summer season. However, now that more than half of the United States has mandated face mask requirements in public spaces and social distancing has become the new normal, makeup enthusiasts are learning to adapt their beauty routines.

The celebrity and editorial makeup artists that we spoke with agree: Everyday beauty trends have pivoted during the coronavirus era. “Women have shifted to a more natural look, but still want to feel beautiful,” says Scott Barnes, longtime makeup artist to Jennifer Lopez and founder of his eponymous color cosmetic line Scott Barnes. He advises that before you apply your makeup, you should take care to follow your usual skin care routine. Barnes emphasizes cleansing your face, toning to rebalance your skin and moisturizing to restore hydration, ensuring a primed canvas for your makeup.

IN THIS ARTICLE Best makeup | Best eye makeup

Since face masks cover a significant portion of your features, some people are forgoing makeup altogether, at least while wearing a mask in public. Others are pivoting their focus away from bold lip colors, contoured cheekbones and flushed cheeks. If you appreciate a full beat, you might want to consider this tip from Tasha Reiko Brown, the makeup artist to Alicia Keys, Yara Shahidi and Letitia Wright: “Makeup transfer is inevitable, so a thin disposable mask underneath your cloth one keeps it clean and makeup-free.”

Best makeup to wear with a face mask

1. The Ordinary High Spreadability Fluid Primer

The name of the game with makeup while wearing a mask is long-lasting wear. Lisa Aharon, makeup artist to Florence Welch, Rachel Brosnahan and Anna Kendrick, likes to combine her face primer and foundation “for an extra smooth application and longevity.” She calls TheOrdinary High Spreadability Fluid Primer an “amazing affordable option” because it’s a lightweight serum-like formula and it's great for dry skin types.

2. Oxygenetix Foundation

Naoko Scintu, a London-based makeup artist who works with Charlize Theron, Sophie Turner and Karlie Kloss suggests you use this foundation as a concealer since “you won’t need a whole face of makeup” while sporting a face mask. “The beauty of this product is it stays put a lot better than almost all foundations,” she says. “Only use it where you need it, like under the eyes and on any blemishes.” The whipped foundation blends best with fingers, although you can use a damp Beautyblender or your go-to face brush.

It’s all about thin, thoughtful layers of skincare and makeup so there’s less maintenance throughout the day.

Lisa Aharon, Celebrity Makeup Artist

3. Armani Luminous Silk Concealer

Ashley Rebecca Schultz, an editorial makeup artist in New York, recommends this recently released concealer. The coverup is an extension of Armani’s popular Luminous Silk Foundation, both of which uses the brand’s micro-fil technology to help blur imperfections and add hydration. The medium-to-buildable concealer covers up dark circles, leaving behind a skin-like finish. Use your ring finger — which has the lightest touch — or a small fluffy brush such as the BDellium Tools Golden Triangle 785 Tapered Brush to buff the product onto your skin.

4. Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Loose Powder

After you apply your base, you’re going to want to lock your face makeup in place with a setting powder. Barnes, who also works with Vanessa Williams, Christina Aguilera and Gwen Stefani, recommends you dust this powder in areas where you get oily, which is typically the T-zone (aka your forehead, nose and chin). The silica- and silicon-based loose powder reflects light and helps blur the appearance of pores and fine lines. And no matter melanin-rich or fair your complexion is, the translucent powder won’t show up ghostly on your skin.

5. Ilia Flow-Thru Radiant Translucent Powder

Aharon calls this travel-friendly brush-on powder “highly convenient” and finds it sets makeup “beautifully.” The talc-free finishing powder is made with certified organic ingredients — corn starch, sunflower oil and rosemary and aloe vera — which helps to absorb excess oil, hydrate, and calm the skin.

6. Milk Makeup Blur Spray

Barnes and Aharons both say that you can also use a setting spray to prevent your makeup from melting off and transferring onto your face mask. “It’s all about thin, thoughtful layers of skincare and makeup so there’s less maintenance throughout the day,” says Aharon. She recommends the Milk Blur Spray because it helps “minimize the appearance of pores and fine lines while keeping your complexion matte throughout the day.” Shake the bottle, then spritz the jasmine oil, lychee and goji berry-infused liquid onto your face to help prolong the wear of your makeup. The non-greasy spray also contains methanol, which leaves behind a faint, cooling sensation.

Best eye makeup to wear with a face mask

“Eyes have taken center stage through our new masked summer,” says Reiko Brown, who also works with Lupita Nyong’o and Tracee Ellis Ross. “Play up your mascara and use trends like a colored liner to express yourself while wearing a mask.”

7. Maybelline Falsies Lash Lift Mascara

If you miss your standing lash extension appointments due to quarantine, give the Maybelline Falsies Lash Lift Mascara a try. After you curl your eyelashes, wiggle the double-curved mascara wand from the base of your lashes to the tip to get visible length and volume (on a budget). Available in both washable and waterproof formulas, you can choose between Brownish Black, Very Black and Blackest Black, my personal favorite. Be sure to keep an oil-based eye makeup remover — such as the Lancôme Bi-Facil Eye Makeup Remover— close by because this drugstore mascara stays put even when you rub your eyes or tear up after yawning.

At night, really play up the drama of eyes. Bold lips are taking a backseat during masked makeup because of the smudging and transferring.

Tasha Reiko Brown, Celebrity Makeup Artist

8. Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil

Perfecting a cat eye is undoubtedly tricky, so opt for a colorful eye pencil over a liquid or gel liner. Urban Decay’s eyeliner is available in dozens of shades, including Deep End, a metallic peacock shimmer, Psychedelic Sister, a vibrant purple and Lucky, a metallic copper. As with all other makeup products from UD’s line, these liners are vegan-friendly and cruelty-free. The creamy eyeliners are also infused with good-for-your-skin ingredients, including vitamin E, plus jojoba and cottonseed oils. You can smoke out your eyeliner using a pencil brush or you can scribble it over your eyelids as a base for your attention-grabbing evening look.

The pros say that if you want to wear eye makeup during the day, you can go for a soft, natural look by enhancing your eyebrows. “At night, really play up the drama of eyes. Bold lips are taking a backseat during masked makeup because of the smudging and transferring. Focus on a natural stained lip and heavy eyes for your nighttime masked makeup routine,” says Reiko Brown.

9. Dominique Cosmetics Berries & Cream Eyeshadow Palette

If you’re an eyeshadow fiend like me, consider trying my go-to palette for the past year from beauty influencer Christen Dominique. These 12 eyeshadows are a mix of warm and cool tones, along with matte and shimmer options including Honey Dipped, a gold foil, Chocolate Mousse, a deep brown, and Warm Pie, a non-intimidating matte red-brown with delicate flecks of gold glitter. The shadows all have high color payoff, minimal fall out, are long-lasting even without a primer and work both wet and dry. The company also sells the Latte palette, which has earth tones and the Celestial Storm palette that has 12 vibrant shadows like Lucid Dream, a hot pink and Electric Amethyst, a fuchsia with teal flecks of glitter.

10. Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick

You have to work quickly with this long-wearing liquid lipstick because once it sets, it’s not going anywhere. Use the stiff, pointed applicator to line your lips carefully and then fill in your lips. Despite the drugstore price-point, the color payoff rivals some of my go-to, high-end lipsticks. Like with all matte lipsticks, it’s going to be a little drying, so either deal with slight discomfort or keep a hydrating lip balm in your purse. Just remember, the balm can cause the lipstick to potentially transfer to your face mask.

After you apply your makeup and face mask, you should avoid touching your face to prevent adding extra oils to your skin, adds Barnes. He suggests that, only “when possible,” take your mask off to prevent dirt and dust from getting “trapped under your skin,” which can lead to breakouts.

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