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Unmasking My Beauty Secrets: A Guide to Mask Makeup

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Pitt chapter.

For the past two years, we’ve been wearing masks as a normal part of our everyday wardrobe. I didn’t stop wearing makeup just because half of my face is hidden. So how do I wear a mask for almost 18 hours with little to no transfer? Here are some of my secrets!

Light Base

While I didn’t stop wearing makeup, my routine did change slightly. I no longer wear a foundation all over my face unless I’m getting pictures taken. Even then, I prefer to go lighter on my base makeup.

Prep, Prep, Prep

Getting my makeup to stay all day starts with the health of my skin. I wash my face twice a day with a gently face cleanser, use a spot treatment only when necessary and use a moisturizer as the final step in my skin care routine. Lately I’ve been opting for a cream-to-water moisturizer like the Bliss Drench and Quench or the Tatcha Water Cream. These moisturizers are light and absorb super quickly into my skin.

After I give my moisturizer time to absorb into my face, I skip a designated face primer and opt for a few sprays of a mattifying setting spray. I have extremely oily skin, so this helps to prevent my natural oils from seeping through and loosening my makeup.

Matte Base

The one thing that you’ll have to pry from my cold, dead hands is matte base products. Especially now that I need something that won’t transfer or lift from my skin. My go-to is the ELF 16 hour Camo Concealer in the matte finish. I use this to fix up my eyebrows and as an eye primer and also lightly on my under-eyes and any spots that need concealed around my face. I use a bronzing powder and some blush, then set everything lightly with a loose setting power.

No need to go crazy on the setting powder, either. I’ve found that “baking” doesn’t effect the longevity of my makeup (it never has).

If you’re dead-set on wearing foundation, I really like the Ordinary’s matte foundation! As long as I lightly set it with powder, I’ve had no trouble with transfer to my mask or it peeling up through the day.

No matter if you opt for concealer, foundation or both, a little goes a long way! You don’t need to pack on the product, especially in areas that are going to be covered when you’re wearing your mask. Excess product will cause transfer no matter how good your setting powder is.

Also, if you prefer a dewier look, try working with cream contours and blushes along with highlighter drops. I would still set everything with a little bit of powder, but you don’t necessarily have to give up your favorite look just to make it work behind a mask! I also avoid dragging product too far down on my face, so I place my bronzer and blush as close to my cheek bones as I can while still making it look natural.


For the day-to-day I have been skipping over lip products like lipstick or gloss. No one gets to see it and it really just makes a mess under my mask. However, if I do go for a lip product on a day when I have class or will be wearing a mask at all, I reach for a matte liquid lip. I promise it won’t look dry and flakey if you prep your lips correctly!

Lip Prep for Matte Liquid lipstick

Good lip prep starts any time you want it to. By that, I mean staying hydrated and avoiding picking at your lips (I’m so very guilty of this). Additionally, using hydrating lip products when you aren’t wearing lipstick makes sure that when you do paint on a matte product, it doesn’t look dry. Another way to make sure your lips are ready for a matte liquid lipstick is to exfoliate with a gentle lip scrub right before you do your makeup and use a moisturizing lip mask while you do the rest of your face.

At night after I brush my teeth and do the rest of my skin care routine, I’ll apply extra moisturizer to my lips and then top it off with a layer of Aquaphor. This works to seal in the moisture throughout the night and helps me not pick at my lips because they aren’t dry or cracking.

Set, Set, Set

Setting spray is a vital step in keep your makeup on your face instead of on your mask as you go about your day. I use the NYX 24 hour matte setting spray, but I think any matte spray will do.

Overall, wearing makeup under your mask isn’t impossible; you may just have to slightly modify your routine to make it work. Also, everyone’s skin is different — while I lean on matte products to balance out my oily skin, if you have dry skin you may actually need a more moisturizing or dewy product! At the very least, I hope this guide helps give you some ideas to try out to make your makeup last all day!

I'm a mechanical engineering major with a passion for sustainability and green energy. In my free time I love to skateboard, drink coffee, and listen to music.