Face mask make-up guide: What you need for long wearing coverage

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Aside from wearing make-up for the odd Zoom date or socially distanced drink in the park, many of us have stripped back our beauty routines during lockdown, as painting our faces to sit at our laptops screens has seemed rather futile.

But the next stage of the government’s roadmap to easing lockdown will mean a reunion with our make-up bags. On 23 June, the prime minister Boris Johnson announced that pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, hotels, cinemas, museums and art galleries can begin to reopen from 4 July, and that the social distancing guidance will be reduced from 2m to 1m.

This means that face coverings will become a part of everyday life, as it’s now mandatory to wear one on public transport, in Uber’s and when visiting hospitals in England.

From 22 June, Scotland made it compulsory for people to wear face coverings on all public transport too, including the Glasgow Subway, Edinburgh trams and taxis. Those under five and with certain medical conditions are exempt.

Although not mandatory, the government has also advised that people should wear them in other confined spaces, such as supermarkets and other non-essential shops, many of which have reopened in the recent changes to lockdown measures. For more advice on face coverings, including who should be wearing one, how to put one on and where to buy one, read our buying guide here.

Aside from these practicalities, another thing to consider when wearing a face covering is how it could impact your make-up. The added heat trapped under your mask combined with the friction of wearing one could disrupt your foundation and other base products, especially if they are lightweight, cream based and not set properly. This means that make-up wearers will need to focus on the staying power of their products more than usual.

Given that our faces are going to be half covered, drawing attention to the visible parts of your face, like your eyes and brows, will be in vogue, while bold lips are sadly taking a backseat for now.

Roshida Khanom, category director for beauty and personal care at Mintel, a global market insight company, predicts the beauty industry will have to adapt to the new post-corona landscape.

She says: “As we ease out of lockdown restrictions, the mandatory use of face masks will significantly impact usage of lipstick in particular.

“However, eye make-up will see an uptick as women look towards other areas to express themselves, and we’ve already seen a number of ‘mask make-up’ tutorials online.”

She adds: “In the longer term, brands should focus on long-lasting and smudge-proof claims, as the wearing of face masks will impact the usage experience when it comes to products like foundation, highlighter and blush.”

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

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Perfect your base

The key to extending the longevity of your make-up is in your base products. Face coverings pose a whole other issue when it comes to skin problems, as wearing one can cause breakouts or aggravate skin conditions like eczema. You can read The Independent’s guide to pre-mask skincare for tips on how to avoid this.

Once you’ve applied your skincare, a primer is a must, as this will give your foundation something to cling onto and helps it stay set in place throughout the day. Treat it as a magnet for your make-up, evening skin tone and prepping your skin for other products.

This heavy duty primer will grip to your foundation, helping it lock into place (Urban Decay)

There’s a whole host of primer formulas out there to target different skin concerns, but for longwear, we’d recommend Urban Decay’s all nighter face primer (£26, Urban Decay). Inspired by the brand’s signature finishing spray of the same name, this primer ensures that your make-up will not budge, whether you’re wearing a face covering on a long commute or caught in a downpour. The gel-like consistency absorbs well, despite being quite a heavy-duty product, and blurs pores effectively.

Longwear foundations

Although lightweight foundation formulas may be in season when it comes to glowy summer skin, they will slip and slide underneath a face mask, leading to patchiness, which is never a good look. Rachel Hardie, senior artist at NARS, advises to opt for a long wearing foundation to give your make-up a fighting chance of lasting under a face covering.

She loves the brand’s natural radiant longwear foundation (£35, Look Fantastic) as it has a whopping 16 hour wear. The formula is much loved by make-up lovers across all skin types, including us, as it strikes the balance between a natural looking, luminous glow and buildable, fade-resistant wear. It’s also available in 34 shades.

We also love Charlotte Tilbury’s airbrush flawless foundation (£34, Cult Beauty) for a formula with real staying power. Every longwear lover’s dream is to find a full-coverage foundation that feels lightweight on the skin, and this is just it. It dries down to a matte-satin finish and contains skin nourishing ingredients that give a healthy glow while still looking freshly applied throughout the day. It’s available in 44 shades which consider undertones as well as skin tones.

This foundation is long wearing without feeling heavy on the skin (Charlotte Tilbury)

Regardless of which formula you choose, we recommend applying your foundation with a make-up sponge rather than a brush or your fingers, as this will buff the product into your skin, setting it in place more firmly.

Another top tip is to apply a cream bronzer underneath your powder bronzer to extend its longevity. This will help you build coverage and will mean that if your powder products fade when wearing a face covering, your cream products will still shine through. The same can be said for cream blushes and highlighters, as long as they are set by powder products.

Use a powder to set liquid products

Now you’ve done all this hard work to ensure your make-up lasts throughout the day, it’d be a crime not to set it, as this step will lock your liquid or cream based products in place.

Rachel Hardie from NARS says: “My top tip to ensuring your make-up will stay put under the mask is to make sure you set thoroughly with powder. I use a loose setting powder like the NARS soft velvet loose powder (£30, John Lewis & Partners) with a velour puff and roll onto the skin. I use quite a lot then dust away the excess after.”

Applying a hefty amount of powder may seem counter intuitive, but this will work to absorb any excess oils, as well as setting your base, with the added security of the extra coverage you get from a face powder. This is vital when wearing a face mask, as anything on your face that isn’t set will be disrupted by a covering.

In our round-up of the best face powders, Huda Beauty’s easy bake loose powder (£29, Cult Beauty) won the top spot for its setting and perfecting properties. Our reviewer noted that this formula was “the longest lasting of all those tested, keeping several layers of product in place through nights out, rainy weather and even a quick workout.” It’s also non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t block your pores or cause a breakout. An added bonus when we’re already worried about face coverings causing blemishes.

Focus on your 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 black and going for a brighter shade. This doesn’t mean you have to reach for the electric blue, but even opting for a rich brown or dark purple will take your eye make-up to the next level.

In our review of the best eyeliners, Fenty Beauty’s flypencil (£18, Boots) was the best buy for its easy-to-use, long lasting formula and fun shade range. Available in 20 shades, including matte, metallic, glitter and shimmer finishes, our reviewer “loved it for its easy-to-use practicality combined with the intense colours and finishes that give you confidence to experiment with bolder looks.”

This liner will freshen up your look and won’t budge all day (Fenty Beauty)

To give the appearance of wider, brighter eyes (which we all need after feeling groggy during lockdown), invest in a top mascara that delivers on volume and length. We love Anastasia Beverly Hills’ lash brag volumising mascara (£26, Cult Beauty), as it gives voluminous, fanned out lashes that are lengthened and curled after just one coat. The hourglass wand coats hairs instantly from root to tip, giving instant volume and fluttery, defined lashes with just one coat.

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 powder, 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.

This setting spray uses temperature control technology to keep sweat at bay (Urban Decay)

When it comes to heavy duty protection, we return to Urban Decay’s “all nighter” line, as its staying power properties are unmatched. The ultra matte version of its classic setting spray (£20.50, Selfridges) absorbs unwanted oil while keeping your make-up perfected throughout the day. It also uses a temperature control technology which helps wick away sweat, a real culprit when it comes to the breakdown of make-up. This will come in especially handy when our make-up is heating up under a face covering.

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