Hey! Hey! It’s Destinee here and today we are talking about how to keep your makeup working with a mask. It is no big secret that there is still a pandemic running rampant in these streets. And yet, we as artists want nothing more than to continue to share our art. Because we are a bunch of creative thinkers there have been shows of all sorts. There have been recorded shows, Clubhouse performances, Zoom readings, and more. Lately, depending on each region’s pandemic protocols, some have ventured to share their art with live audiences again!

Now, I am not sitting in many audiences but I can tell you that life backstage at Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (San Francisco) has got me adding “mask tracking” to my show responsibilities. OOF! I have also had to change the way I think about makeup applications for my actors as the masks are protecting everything but lipstick smears. BIGGER OOF!

Here are three of my favorite mask-proof tips for keeping more makeup on your face and less of it transferring into your mask! (Destinee was a workshop presenter at the 2021 International Thespian Festival. Watch for this year’s workshop listings! And, here’s a free link to watch her 2021 workshop online!)

Tips to Keep Makeup Working With Masks

Let it bake! My first tip is to simply do your makeup as early as you can before having to put your mask on. Too simple, right? it’s important to remember that our skin absorbs 60-70% of the things we put on it and in this case, that is exactly what we want. As the pores absorb the product and the makeup settles into the skin, your risk of transferring or smearing your makeup to your mask significantly decreases.

Now we have all been in a situation where group warm-ups take forever, sound check was a little slow, and now we only have five minutes to do a complete basic corrective stage makeup. Well, here are some other tips that can help you … wait for it… SAVE FACE!


Destinee Steele, African-American woman, in leopard print sweater, smiling, with plain backgroundDestinee Steele has an MFA in wig and makeup design. She is also a Founding Board Member of Black Hair and Makeup United. Her videos are among our most-watched tutorials!

The Power of Setting Spray with Masks

Your second tip is to use a setting spray, but keep in mind there are layers to this step. This step is multi-layered like a parfait! When using a cream or a liquid foundation, you should set these products with a powder. This step helps in a couple areas. First, it can even out the tone of the entire application should your highlight and contour not agree. And second, it can keep your liquid and cream from transferring as much.

Now the boss level of this technique is to use setting spray at the end to seal in the entire application. I have even known people to use hairspray to set their face when in a pinch. This final layer of the application to seal in your look, coupled with about 10 minutes of drying time should do the trick and reduce the likelihood of rubbing your makeup off with a mask.

Some of my favorite setting sprays are Urban Decay All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray, NYX Professional Long Lasting Dewy Finish Spray, and old faithful Ben Nye Final Seal Matte Sealer. There are many brands and many price points so find the one that works best for you and SLAY! (Editor’s note: Destinee is not compensated by manufacturers for her product recommendations.)

The Secret to Stay-Put Lipstick

Liquid to matte lipstick! My favorite and your final tip is to use a liquid-to-matte lipstick. I have loved these since before the mask requirements. Sometimes you want to look cute eating in the middle of the mall food court with a bold purple lip, okay?! These are the best solution for non-transferable lips during a time of mask mandates.

Most of these lipsticks are waterproof and can be removed easily with a makeup wipe or any oil-based makeup remover. These lippies can tend to be a little drying so make sure to moisturize your lips in advance. Then also be sure to remove the excess moisturizer before applying liquid-to-matte lippie as too much residual oil will cause your lipstick to never fully dry or mattify.

Some of my all-time favorite brands of these lippies are Colourpop Cosmetics, Huda Beauty, and Anastasia Beverly Hills. Just like in setting sprays there are many price points for these products. Also make sure to look for the different finishes these lippies can come in such as velvet finish, satin finish, and ultra-matte finish to name a few.

Alright! That is all for us today. Thank you for spending time with me as we discussed some of my favorite low-transferable options for keeping your makeup working behind a mask. I would love to hear some of your favorite products, too. If you liked this article check back with us for more tips, tricks, and takeaways! 

Destinee Steele is a regular contributor to Dramatics.org. She is also the CEO of The Beauty Menagerie, LLC. To learn more visit her at destineesteele.com.

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