Makeup To Mask Up

Susan B. wears a silk mask from Ivana Nohel Scarves. How to wear makeup with a mask: details at une femme d'un certain age.

Depending on where you live, you may need or want to wear a mask in public spaces. According to the CDC, cloth face coverings can help slow the spread of coronavirus. I think it’s prudent as well as considerate, and have decided to make the best of it by regarding masks another opportunity to accessorize.

This gorgeous silk mask was a gift from Ivana Nohel. This one is one-of-kind, in the “Madame Butterfly” pattern, but she’s going to be making more styles in the future, so if you’re interested, bookmark her website and check back. (And while you’re there, check out some of her gorgeous scarves!)

But masks can present some challenges too. If you wear glasses, you may find they fog up. (Here are some tips that might help.) I find that wearing my glasses over the top of the mask helps.

Susan B. wears a casual denim look with a silk face mask. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

And then there’s makeup.

Makeup tips for wearing masks

My attempt at doing a makeup video for this post Did Not Go Well. 😆 I knocked over and cracked my magnifying mirror, and couldn’t get the lighting right. I’ll keep trying. In the meantime, here’s most of what I attempted to cover.

I don’t usually wear a lot of makeup on a daily basis. I’m a fan of “le no makeup look” and frankly think I look better with less. But I do wear some, and here’s what I’m finding works best with a mask:

1. Think “sheer”

Skip the heavier, highly-pigmented formulas. Instead of foundation, I’ve been wearing Chanel Les Beiges Water Fresh Tint. I was introduced to this in Paris last summer by the makeup artist at Chanel on rue Cambon, and bought it on the spot.

I now consider this one of my Holy Grail makeup products. While it goes on sheer, it effectively evens out my skin tone, and has a blurring effect that makes my skin look smoother and radiant. It doesn’t settle into lines or pores either. (Jane Iredale has a similar product that I have not been able to try yet.)

If you do wear a blush or bronzer, again go with something sheer and light.

2. Focus on the eyes

I don’t usually wear a lot of eye makeup, but always at least fill in my brows, and curl my eyelashes. I like this brow pencil from Chantecaille. (Light taupe is a perfect match for my brow color.)

I’ve started wearing a little eyeliner more often. I’ve switched from black to brown, and really like this one from Chanel in “Brun Agape.” With mascara too, I’ve switched to brown. Le Volume de Chanel Waterproof in “Brun.”

When I’m feeling inspired, I might add a little bit of Benefit High Brow Glow around the inner corners of my eyes and on the brow bone.

3. Gimme some lip

If you wear lip color at all, you’ll want to avoid anything goopy or heavily pigmented. I suggest sticking with a sheer shade that’s close to your lip color. Tinted balm is probably a good choice (like Burt’s Bees), or you might like a lip stain. I’ve found some lip stains (especially the liquid ones) drying but friends of mine love them.

I’ve mostly been wearing my Chantecaille Lip Chic. One of my go-to colors is Sunrise. It’s sheer, but stays on and keeps my lips moisturized for hours. I use a light application under a mask, and haven’t found that it rubs off or smears.

Chanel Les Beiges Water Fresh Tint | Chantecaille Waterproof Brow Definer | Benefit Cosmetics High Brow Glow | Chanel Stylo Yeux Eyeliner | Chantecaille Lip Chic | Le Volume De Chanel Mascara

Susan B. of une femme d'un certain age wears an aqua knit moto jacket, jeans and gold sandals.

Jacket | Necklace | Top | Bracelet (c/o) |
Bracelet (c/o) | Jeans | Sandals

What is your “bare minimum” makeup these days?

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  1. I stopped wearing masks weeks ago when coronavirus was eradicated from the state I live in, but am still to lazy putting on makeup when I go for my daily walk. I will take a look at that Chanel foundation you wear, but your skin is really lovely and not weather beaten (like many older Australian womens complexions) I did however, buy a lovely new lipstick from Bobbi Brown today, although $56 for one lippie was a bit of a sting.

    1. How lucky for you that coronavirus has been “eradicated” in your state. And have the borders also been closed so that there is no travel in or out?

        1. I am in Australia, but my sister is a naturalized American, so I follow events in your country closely and visit every couple of years. She wears a mask everytime she leaves the house (in New Hampshire. By the way, I meant to write how gorgeous that jacket looks on you.

      1. Most states have either no cases , or very few. Victoria, however is a basket case with more cases recorded every day. People travelling between our states had to go into quarantine (at home) for two weeks with the police doing spot checks. Our Federal Govt closed any travel into Australia back in March. Any Australians returning home were forced into quarantine (in hotels) for 2 weeks with the Army guarding them. Pretty draconian, but it seems to have worked. My sister lives in New Hampshire and she is shocked how many locals won’t wear a mask in public.

  2. Hi Susan—I couldn’t find the face masks. Do they ship to the U.S.? What’s your thoughts on the quality of your jacket by Kettlewell? I’ve pondered ordering from them but don’t have any experience with this brand. May I ask what size you’re wearing in the jacket, does it zip comfortably for you and how’s the overall length and sleeve length being you’re a petite?

    1. Hi Rose, the masks aren’t online yet. She’s still working on them. I think the quality of the jacket is quite good. I’m wearing a Small. It does zip comfortably. The sleeves are just a little longer than I’d prefer, and at some point I’ll have them shortened by about an inch.

  3. The thing that I always do is brows. I have a mascara type product I like that stays on longer than the pencil that I use if I”m looking for longer wear. For quick and dirty I go with a pencil. Brows give you face definition and highlight expression. I think it’s important with the mask wearing to do you makeup to emphasize expression.
    I go easy on foundation, the last thing I want is make-up all over the inside of my mask, and opt for long-wearing lipstick, which tends to stay put better.
    This mask thing is not going away, nor do I want it to as it seems fairly effective. Because we take them on and off a lot I think makeup needs to be light to non-existent, or positively bullet-proof so it doesn’t end up all over everything.

    I don’t know about a silky mask, did it slide around? I ordered a mask from the organization you highlighted several weeks ago, and it was very well done.

  4. I still use layers of products with spf- not because they are additive but because I might miss something. That means Elta spf 44 (with hyaluronic acid), skinceuticals physical fusion uv defense spf 50 which is thin and tinted, and revision skincare intellishade spf 45 which is a tinted moisturizer. I use sugar petal spf lip tint. Then mascara upper lashes only to draw the eye up and urban decay eyeliner mostly.

  5. Beautiful color jacket on you, and love the facemask.
    Perhaps the photo is misleading, but I thought I’d mention that with folded masks, the folds need to point down – the idea is that you don’t want particles settling in little pockets or folds of fabric that are created if the folds point up, if that makes sense.

    1. I wondered about the mask folds…

      Great color on you, Susan! I did check out the many colors to choose from!

    2. I was going to mention the same thing about the folds in the mask. They must face down. I have a few masks and find the ones best for glasses have a high nose area with a strong metal piece inside that can be molded to fit the nose.

  6. The color of the jacket you have on looks great on you and the little poof in your hair makes you look younger and like you feel so good!

    1. I agree; love the jacket. I’m thinking of ordering. What has been your experience with the brand’s sizing, Sue? Have you ever returned an item to them & how’d it go, if so?

      Thank you!

      1. Hi Elle, I find the sizing is pretty consistent. They charge for US delivery but will provide a return label if you need to send something back.

  7. I always wear a mask. You cannot get in anywhere in my state without one. Restaurant, grocery, shops. People need to continue wearing masks to stop the spread. Or stay home!! I do not wear makeup under mask. I do not think I have put on makeup since March 13th!

    1. I’m moving to your state! LOL. Maks are optional in SC and that’s ridicules. Some stores make their employees wear masks but when you see them many have the mask pulled below their noses. I only shop where masks are mandatory for both employees and shoppers. Two places that I know of.

  8. I went to the website to see how the face mask is made, as the mask needs a place to put a filter to be effective to keep a person safe (especially if you have an autoimmune disease) & didn’t find any masks, perhaps you can let them know, that is if the masks are for sale yet. It doesn’t matter what your state says, it doesn’t matter if the federal government says that the virus is gone; COVID-19 is not gone, it will never be gone & until there is a vaccine, which I will gladly take, I will wear a mask. I’ve never been through a Pandemic but as a historian I know what happens from past pandemics. PLEASE wear your masks at all times when you are in public! Thanks for the makeup tip, I will probably just wear some eyeliner.

    1. Thanks, Eva Cox, for your insightful and knowledgeable comments about Covid. Have you written any articles about the history of pandemics?
      Elizabeth, in Canada

  9. Susan, the Nordstrom app is not yet available in Canada. This means when you feature a product from them we can’t see any details about it even though we have their stores in our country. There have been items you’ve featured that I would like to order but haven’t been able to get information on. I’m sure your other Canadian readers are experiencing the same. Thanks!

  10. I use Restasis and have not found a mascara (Have tried numerous brands, waterproof, with/out primer, etc) that reliably stays put so have decided to forgo eye makeup. I do get my eyelashes dyed every 6-8 weeks (blonde lashes on top of it!) and try to keep my brows especially well groomed. I use a Merle Norman brow pencil to fill and define and a MN gel to keep my brows in place. I love using a tinted moisturizer in place of a regular makeup base with light natural blush as I was at home most of the time even before COVID-19. I feel all these apply especially well now as well as before Covid-19.

  11. Thank you. I don’t go out to public places without wearing a mask and it is again now mandated or strongly suggest by the state. Although I don’t go out often, just to the grocery store or to the hairdresser every six weeks now that they are open, I do go for walks and try to stay socially distant when I encounter other people. Wearing makeup with masks is a bit tricky. Thank you for the tips. Foundation is the big problem for me. I need to cover some sunspots that have appeared on my aging face, and I have yet to find a way or a product that keeps the makeup from smearing on the inside of the mask. Perhaps I need to go back to using the mineral powder foundation from Bare Minerals that supposedly does not rub off or smear, yet I remember that I stopped using that product a few years ago because it was drying and emphasized the fine lines on my very dry skin even though I use a good moisurizer.

    Although wearing a mask is hot and uncomfortable, it is certainly better to help stop the spread of the virus so eventually we can return to our normal routines and social occasions.

    I also could not find masks, only scarves, on the Ivana Nohel website. I do have a local boutique that stocks fabric masks in a variety of patterns, some that use filters, and they also have a small collection of what I call scarf-masks which I think don’t offer much, if anything, in the way of protection but just the illusion of protection or abiding by the state guidelines.

  12. I love the colour of jacket on you. One of the colours that just bring you alive. As for the makeup, I make sure my brows are done and eye liner always with a touch of shadow. In this heat, even the waterproof mascara seems to heat up eventually. With a mask in all public places I don’t wear any other makeup right now and my face is just happier I think. I am wearing lipstick at home for the fun of it. Some of the girls in the pharmacy put the makeup on the masks for fun.I am doing my toes in brighter colours and switch them out often to make up for the lack of expression with the face.

  13. With rain here This morning , Your colorful photo brings a smile. Seeing people in Asian cities long use of Masks for protection is proof that they offer safety from all kinds of things airborne. Not wearing one in public during a pandemic ignores science and seems immature.
    Love the post makeup tips. Thanks.

  14. I wore false eyelashes the other night to my neighbor’s backyard for a socially distanced BYOB cocktail. That’s the extent of my make-up. I have to say, eyelashes make such a great difference on me. I am going to look into the “magnetic” type. Have you heard anything about them, Susan? I had extensions once, but it took months for my own lashes to recover.

  15. Hi Susan: did you also get Chanel’s serum that the model applied before the sheer tint? Or do you use your own moisturizer first?
    I’m still using Nars eye make up that I bought in Honolulu when I was living there but I do like the Chantecaille products and I use their Lip Chic also. During the SIP months in California I find I haven’t used much of anything unless I’m out walking and then I put on sunscreen. Thanks! Sally

  16. The jacket is a lovely color on you Susan! I always wear my mask when I’m out in public spaces. Nowadays I just fill in my brows and do a light coat of mascara. I’ve been using Super Goop Glow Screen instead of foundation. I fit a single square of toilet paper inside my mask and that pretty much keeps any lip balm and sunscreen off the mask.

  17. My red-headed blue-eyed daughter has been tinting her own eyebrows for years…it makes such a difference in her “look” and self-confidence. She taught me how, and I, too, am a devoteé!! She very fair, with freckles, so – NO SUN, but rather, sunless tanner. I bit the bullet last week and bought an air brush tanning system – it even included the little tent! Another gadget to boost morale and make us feel a wee bit “normal” and sun-kissed!

  18. I must say, you look absolutly radiant…your colours on you are fab. I was a bit hesitant at first with your new colouring….but what you have chosen is like you have a light within.

  19. Hi Susan! That turquoise is your color!! Lovely! I don’t wear much make-up. I put on Elta sunscreen SPF46 every morning on my face, neck, ears and upper chest. I have found a colorless lip balm that I absolutely love – it’s by Waleda. It keeps my lips soft and moisturized all day – even under the mask. I don’t go out without coloring in my eyebrows and that’s about it for me. Once in awhile I will wear a light bronzer or a tinted sunblock by Bare Minerals, and maybe some mascara on upper lids, if I’m on a date. (Few of those these days!). Things are picking up a bit where I live, in western NY, but everyone still wears masks and we’re pretty cautious about social distancing. But it’s good to see friends again! Love your blog and seeing all your fashions!

  20. So can you wash that lovely silk mask in very hot water after each wearing, as recommended by the CDC to kill any virus particles it has picked up? I’ve never washed silk in hot water so I’m curious how that works Susan. Thanks..

    1. Hi Noelle, the CDC website recommends the “warmest appropriate water setting for the cloth used to make the face covering,” so I’d wash this silk one in gently warm water rather than hot. My understanding is that as long as the water is warm and the fabric is in contact with soap for several minutes, it should be fine.

      1. I have a few Johnny Was silk masks. I hand wash them with lots of soap and air dry. Then I iron them to put the pleats back. Also I feel the heat from the iron can’t hurt!

  21. What a beautiful mask. I love wearing silk because it keeps you warm in the winter and it is cooling in the summer. From me a big YES to wearing masks. Studies show that wearing a mask helps significantly with reducing the infection rate. It’s a shame that so many people are so ignorant.

  22. This is a helpful post. I admire women in the public eye who wear attractive masks with pride. And you look very nice in your outfit with coordinating mask! I have really cut back on makeup since the pandemic. I emphasize my eyes. I haven’t tried to wear lipstick assuming it would come off on the mask. I am going to pick up some tinted lip balm. Excellent idea. My husband and I always wear masks in public and practice social distancing. But many don’t. Unless its mandatory I think some people think they are rebelling by refusing to wear one. Just like the seat belt laws and no smoking areas. Our state does not require mandatory masks in public. Our number of cases of the virus are rising very quickly after the stay at home orders were lifted. and businesses opened again.

  23. Dear Susan, you look absolutely beautiful in this photo! Your skin glows, the colors are so pretty on you, and as always you are wonderfully accessorized. Your hair is really cute too! Thank you for all the tips on makeup and masks. Will look into some of the products you mentioned. Thanks.

  24. What color are you wearing in the Chanel Les Beiges? Can only buy it on line and since your coloring is similar to mine, I think it may work. Thank you for your beauty tips today on makeup and the mask!

    1. Hi Roberta, I’m wearing the Medium Light. It looks much darker in the bottle than it does on the skin.

  25. I agree with your readers, the turquoise jacket and mask looks stunning on you. I was surprise when you mentioned you are wearing a size S. As petite as you are, I thought for sure you would be in an XS. I’m asking because most of the sizes and colors on the site are gone and there is only a S left in the color I am considering but I am 5′ 2″ and 115 lbs. Do you think the S would work for me? Thank you Susan; I appreciate all the tips and ideas you share on your site.

    1. Hi Elizabeth, I’m a broad-shouldered and full-busted for my 5’1″ height. The Small was a good fit in the shoulders and overall. You can always contact them at Kettlewell if you have a question about sizing. I’ve found they’re pretty responsive.

  26. In my little corner of the world, face masks are required everywhere we go. However, we are allowed to remove them once we’re seated in a restaurant. I’ve skipped putting on my face for months, but if I’m going out, I like to fix up a bit. Makeup sweats off all over the mask. So I went over to my local drugstore and bought some Revlon Colorstay lipstick and a makeup setting spray. Makeup, I use a tinted sunscreen, stays on my face, lipstick looks great & doesn’t come off until you take it off,, and the mask is clean. It also stays on if you’ve gotten all steamy under your mask. Makeup in the time of COVID.

  27. Very elegant mask. Trust you to have chic silk scarf masks. Clever to put your glasses over the mask; safer as well I bet.
    The blue of your jacket is a colour which suits you so well. Probably from your colour palette?

  28. Have any of you started to use plastic face shields instead of or with masks? The Wall Street Journal just had an article about them; of course, the science is still out on which is most effective. The article had a graphic about what to look for in a shield: it should have foam at the forehead, cover the chin, and reach to the start of the ears. I just ordered a few from Amazon to have on hand…just in case.

  29. Just an FYI…Vogue has an online article on stylish face masks, and has links to a ton of different designers.

  30. Hi, you look great in those jeans! What size and which wash are they? I think we have a similar build. Thank you.

  31. Sunscreen mixed with a little foundation, brow pencil, highlighter on the brow bone, lip balm for everyday. Eyeliner if I’m feeling glam. Am tempted to try the Chantecaille, even at that price point.

  32. Boy have you cost me a lot of money at Chanel over the years! This time I impulsively purchased Les Beiges Water Tint online, and I must admit, I love it! As I have not “shopped” in some time, I didn’t know about this one!

  33. Hi, first time poster /commenter but long time fan / reader. This is a bit late regarding the mask and glasses issue but I’ve found that the wire pieces don’t stay bent long so I’ve taken to using a small strip of lingerie tape. It doesn’t irritate my skin at all. Just across the bridge of nose where glasses normally slip down to. If you wear readers with no nose pads you’ll know where the glasses end up. My biggest habit is constantly pushing my glasses back up. It helps if in conjunction with mask is to wear a glove especially grocery shopping. I just pitch it into the conveniently located trash bin nearly every grocery store seems to have by the door. Hope these tips help. My County hasn’t lifted any restrictions of use to me — they had opened bars but now closed them again. In my opinion a bar is a place to go get drunk and I don’t drink but I sure would love a pedicure!