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How To Stop Makeup From Transferring To Your Mask, According To A Makeup Artist

No smudging here.

It's time to mask-proof your makeup routine and we've enlisted the help of a pro to tell us how...

There’s no denying that some face masks are uncomfortable and some people have even found them to feel a little claustrophobic. But, when we think of all the healthcare workers who have had to wear full PPE for hours on end throughout the pandemic, popping one on while we’re out and about to protect others is a small ask. 

Besides, face coverings are now mandatory in all shops, shopping centres and any other indoor settings across Ireland. The new regulations maintain that a person must wear a face-covering while inside the premises of shopping centres, supermarkets, libraries, cinemas, and museums, as well as businesses such as nail bars, hairdressers, dry cleaners, bookmakers, tattooists and travel agents. Those exempt from the rule are children under 13, workers who are separated from others by a screen or are able to keep two metres away from others and those with mental or physical disabilities. Those who do not comply could face fines of up to €2,500 or six months in jail.

Of course, it’s important to wear one to protect yourself and those around you – and that will always be the priority – but some have noticed a few day-to-day issues that are caused by wearing one. Aside from steaming up glasses, maskne (that's mask-induced acne, read more on that, here) masks make wearing makeup a challenge. From patchy foundation to smudged lipstick, wearing makeup and a mask seems like a recipe for one messy, stained mask. Thus leaving us with one of two options: don't wear makeup at all, or be prepared for makeup to move off your face and onto your mask. But with long-lasting foundations, primers, setting sprays on the market - are those really the only options? Not necessarily. 

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"Wearing a mask doesn’t mean you have to say no to your foundation and lipstick," says Polina Perminova, pro makeup artist. "There are plenty of long-lasting foundations on the market, ranging from very light to full coverage. Same about lipsticks: it might be different coverage than you're used to but the main focus now is on long-lasting products"

To help you navigate this new world of mask make-up, we’ve consulted Polina for tips and tricks on application, with plenty of product recommendations along the way, to help your look stay put all day long. 


Any makeup artist will tell you that skincare is a vital step in your makeup routine, and Polina argues that it's even more important when you're trying to avoid maskne. "Always start with your skincare routine first before applying any makeup. You want to make sure that the skin is hydrated enough before applying your base." But before you dive straight into foundation and concealer, Polina advises applying a primer or a fixing spray before going in with makeup. 

step away from dewy foundations

As much as we love a glowing dewy foundation, a lot of them have a slightly tacky finish. Anything with a tacky finish like said glow-giving foundations, cream blushers, cream highlighters, etc., risks sticking to your face mask and leaving you with a less than flawless finish. "Instead, opt for a cushion or stick foundation. They give you really good coverage, are long-lasting without feeling heavy," recommends Polina.

powder is not the answer

While you might have seen a makeup tutorial or two singing the praises of setting powders for keeping foundation (and sometimes even lipstick) in place, it turns out it's nothing but fake news. "To be honest, setting the foundation with a powder is not necessary at all, especially under your mask," says Polina. "They don't have the same grip with your skin as other liquid or cream textured products do and therefore are far more likely to transfer onto your mask." 

Prime Time

For truly lasting makeup, there is only one answer: a primer. Primers not only even out skin texture, blur fine lines and wrinkles and ultimately prepare the skin for makeup, but certain primers are created to help foundation, concealers, and cheek products last as long as possible. "Primers can also make foundations feel more comfortable on the skin," says Polina. "The majority of long-lasting foundations have a matte finish which can make the skin feel dry. However, if you apply a hydrating primer such as the Lancôme Prep and Hydrate Primer (€37) Urban Decay Quick Fix Hydracharge Prep Spray (€31) or the Smashbox Photo Finish Primerizer (€38) - it eliminates that dry skin feeling caused by the long-lasting matte foundation." 

back to matte

In recent months, gloss has reigned supreme as the finish of choice on our lips, thanks to the new generation of lip glosses proving that the once-beloved product has graduated from a gloopy, sticky mess to a lip-pampering, shine-enhancing product. But despite lip gloss now both looking and feeling good, it is sadly not face mask friendly. "All liquid lipsticks with a matte finish are almost non-transferring," says Polina. "I personally love Matte Shakers from Lancôme and NYX Professional Makeup Liquid Suede Cream Lipsticks. Also, coloured lip balms could be a good solution if you find matte lipsticks too dry. They're comfortable while also adding a bit of colour to your lips." 

As Polina points out, even matte lipsticks will transfer a little but luckily, there is a way around this. "Hold a tissue over your lips, and lightly dust some setting powder on top of the tissue. This will set your lipstick without leaving it feeling too dry," advises Polina. 

focus on the eyes

Since a bold lip will get lost under a face covering, experimenting with new eye make-up will draw attention to the area of your face that’s visible while wearing one. If you’re well versed in using a liquid eyeliner, a great way to make your eyes stand out is by ditching the cat-eye technique in favour of some graphic liner. That said, "if bold eye makeup isn't for you, don't worry. Focus on your lashes and invest in a good mascara - it can make all the difference," advises Polina. 

finish off with a setting spray

To lock all of your efforts in place and to keep your make-up looking just as good as it did when you first applied it, a setting spray is a must. This will also work to melt away any excess product while also blending your products together for a seamless finish. Acting as the final barrier to any disruption, a setting spray will help your make-up to stay put under a face covering. "My favourite setting sprays are Skindinavia The Makeup Finishing Spray Bridal (€26.50) and Lancôme Fix It Forget It Spray (€34.50). Both of them can be used underneath and on the top of your makeup," recommends Polina. 

Main image by @lizgillz on Instagram

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