The ultimate guide to mastering your mask

The ultimate guide to mastering your mask: Experts reveal how to banish fogged up glasses, smudged lipstick and sore ears while wearing your face covering

  • Face coverings to protect others from Covid-19 do come with their drawbacks
  • Annoying side effects include skin irritations – ‘maskne’ – and spoiled make-up
  • Can also cause lenses in glasses to fog and sometimes hurt behind the ears
  • FEMAIL offers guide to how to tackle the annoying niggles caused by face masks

With face masks already compulsory on public transport and becoming mandatory in shops and supermarkets in England from July 24, the items have fast become an essential accessory in our everyday lives.

But while the overwhelming benefit of wearing one is to stem the spread of coronavirus and keep others around you safe, the coverings do have their drawbacks.

Many people have taken to social media to complain of bad skin, smudged make-up and fogged up glasses as a result of their masks.

So how can you avoid a face mask faux pas? Here FEMAIL shares an expert guide to tackle the annoying niggles caused by Covid-19 coverings – and the best way to keep them clean and prevent cross-contamination.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove was spotted in Westminster sporting an NHS rainbow face mask – and rather foggy-looking glasses


This week the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove was spotted in Westminster sporting a mask emblazoned with rainbows in tribute to the NHS.

However, the politician’s vision appeared to be slightly impaired as the mask looked to have caused his glasses to steam up. 

He’s not alone; several glasses-wearers have taken to social media complaining they have to ‘pick between breathing or seeing’ when warm breath escapes from the top of the mask and lands on the cooler surface of the lens.

Thankfully there are ways to prevent your eyewear fogging up if you wear glasses. 

Gordon Kyle, of Miller and McClure Opticians, recommends keeping the glasses on top of your mask, meaning it acts like a seal to keep it tight to the top of your cheek and restricts air from hitting the lenses. 

And here, Ceri Smith-Jaynes, from the Association of Optometrists (AOP), shares a series of tips with FEMAIL.

Fitness coach Max Silver shared this image of himself wearing a mask on Instagram, admitting it had caused his lenses to fog up

Ensure the mask is well-fitted

Take a little time to shape the nose wire on your face mask so that it closely follows the contours of your nose and cheeks, and secure the top strap well. 

If your mask has no wire, you can insert a twist tie or pipe cleaner into the top edge of the mask. You could secure the top edge with micro-pore tape, if necessary. 

Alternatively, fold a tissue until it forms a strip and place it along the top edge of the mask before you put it on.

Adjust the loops

If you have a small head, you may find you need to twist the loops before putting them around your ears to get a snugger fit. 

Buy good quality anti-fog sprays 

Good quality anti-fog sprays can work well and can be purchased from most opticians. 

Never use washing up liquid on glass lenses. It can break down the anti-reflection lens coating gradually over the years, resulting in a crazy-paving effect for which there is only one cure – replacement lenses.

If the mask has tapes to tie it, tie the top one high on the back of your head after putting on your glasses.

Keep your glasses warm

Your lenses will fog up more if they are cold, so wear your glasses or put them in your pocket to warm them a little before you need to put on your mask.

Have your glasses professionally fitted

Ring your optician and book an appointment, remembering to take your mask with you (and your face-shield if you need to work in one). 

They can adjust the nose-pads or sides to fit properly with your PPE. Varifocals will need to sit exactly right to ensure optimum performance.

Consider contact lenses 

If you’ve never worn them before, now is a great time to try them. If it’s been years since you wore contact lenses, ask the practice about the new options. 

You’ll need a professional fitting by an optometrist or contact lens optician. The range of prescriptions is vast; even if you wear varifocal glasses, there are options for you. 


London-based make-up artist Olivia Todd told FEMAIL that a lip stain or matte lipstick is really effective to prevent the dreaded smudged lip. 

‘Avoid products like sheer, creamy lipsticks or lipgloss as inevitably as soon as you’ve applied these, they will smudge and transfer onto your mask and be wasted,’ she said.

Earlier this month presenter Laura Whitmore shared this snap of her rid lipstick smudged all over her face after wearing a mask

‘A lip liner can also be used all over the lip as a lipstick and is certainly worth investing in during this time as it has a lot of staying power to lock in your lip look all day. 

‘A key tip though is that you must make sure to blot your lips with tissue, then reapply the liner and do the same again to build up in fine layers and also remove any excess.’

MUA Olivia Todd’s durable lipwear recommendations

MUA Olivia Todd told FEMAIL a lip stain or matte lipstick is really effective to prevent the dreaded smudged lip


One I absolutely love is the NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil (£22 from NARS) as it is super easy to apply for day-to-day wear.

It delivers the impact of a matte lipstick, with the spontaneity of a lip pencil. 


A liquid matte lipstick is your best friend as it will dry and set on your lips, meaning a transfer-free finish. 

Huda Liquid Matte lipsticks (£18 at Boots) are a favourite of mine. I use them regularly on shoots, as well as on my bridal and celebrity clients as it is a lightweight formula, so they don’t dry out or crack on the lips and last all day. 


A great super affordable alternative to the Huda lipsticks is the Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lip Mousse at just £8.99 from Boots. 

This is not only super pigmented, it lasts up to eight hours and is a creamy comfortable formula for the lips. 

Despite being matte it has a non-drying formula and is totally smudge free.


Cruelty Free & Vegan 

I recommend the 3ina londwear lipstick (£14.95) which is the ultimate liquid lipstick as even the boldest of shades will last up to eight hours behind a mask.

It has a flawless matte finish and its creamy and mess-free formula stays put on your lips with a vivid shade that won’t budge.


Lipcote is the original lip sealer and is great for ensuring all lipsticks are long lasting.

At £3.69 from Boots, it’s the perfect option for those not wanting to invest in loads of new make-up!

For more information about Olivia visit: 


With masks covering the majority of the bottom half of our faces, it’s not conducive for maintaining flawless make-up throughout the day. 

Olivia recommends applying the same new rules for your lipstick to your foundation. 

‘The ideal base to wear under your mask is one that is long-wear and a hydrating yet sweat-proof formula,’ she said. 

‘A sheer foundation or CC/BB cream will rub off onto your mask in an instant.

‘Setting your foundation is also a crucial step before you wear your mask. You want one that absorbs moisture and instantly sets the make-up. 

‘The By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra Powder Face Setting Powder (£42) is perfect for this as it creates a weightless silky veil and is non-drying.’

MUA Olivia Todd’s long-wear make-up recommendations


Estee Lauder’s Double Wear Foundation (£36) is an absolute must as it truly stands the test of time and promises 24 hour staying power. 

It’s sweat, heat and humidity resistant, waterproof and I can verify from my personal usage that it just doesn’t budge!

Fenty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation (£42 from Boots) is amazing as it’s a super lightweight formula, but with great coverage.  

Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation (£44.58)  is also an innovative product because the foundation transforms instantly from liquid to powder, so it’s the perfect foundation if you are in a rush as you have to apply it quickly. 

It’s infused with Kaolinite clay which helps to soak up excess oil and keep skin looking flawless all day. 

3ina’s The 24H Foundation (£24.95) offers medium to high buildable coverage which lasts 24 hours and a natural matte finish. 


The beauty of a powdered foundation is that it doesn’t rub off as it buffs into the skin. 

For flawless, radiant coverage I recommend the Tropic innovative range of mineral foundations (£24), which are created using light-diffusing spherical particles and active botanical extracts that help to improve your complexion with continued use. 

I also highly recommend using a Kabuki style foundation brush. Brushworks brushes (£12.95) are a favourite of mine as they are vegan and cruelty free plus they come in great colour ways. 


Dry skin and chapped lips are two troublesome symptoms from wearing a face mask. 

Dr Lucy Glancey of recommends investing in a good quality moisturiser to suit your skin type, whether it’s oily or dry.

‘A face mask will exacerbate any skin problems,’ she said. ‘Always apply a moisturiser before you wear the mask no matter what your skin type as it will add a barrier between your skin and the mask. Good moisturising is key, and regular application. 

‘Re-apply lip balm before and after wearing a mask and before bed.’

When it comes to choosing your mask, Dr Lucy said: ‘If you have sensitive skin already then avoid certain materials that might irritate your skin further.

‘Wear a snug but breathable mask that is not likely to rub against your skin and be too abrasive, preferably a cotton one. 

‘Avoid harsher skin products such as aftershave and retinoids whilst wearing a mask for long periods of time.’

Dr Lucy also suggests avoiding wearing make-up under your mask if possible as it is more likely to clog your pores and lead to breakouts, especially in the warmer summer months. 


A build-up of moisture underneath your mask creates the perfect breeding ground for germs which can provoke a breakout – known as ‘maskne’. 

Dr Lucy suggests cleaning your face with a tea tree oil-based face wash to prevent a spotty outbreak.

Dr Ross Perry, owner of skin clinics chain, said it’s more important than ever to regularly wash your face.

A build-up of moisture underneath your mask creates the perfect breeding ground for germs which can provoke a breakout – known as ‘maskne’. Several people have taken to social media complaining of the side effect of wearing face coverings

‘It will get more sweaty under a mask, particularly at this time of year and on and off public transport,’ he said. 

Dr Toni Phillips, group clinical director at Destination Skin, recommends regular cleansing to minimise congested skin and clogged pores which can lead to blackheads and a dull, uneven complexion.

‘The right cleanser for your skin type will remove excess oil if present, gently exfoliate dead skin cells and debris, whilst leaving the skin barrier intact and will not interfere with the water levels, leaving you with optimally clean, hydrated and glowing skin,’ Dr Toni explained.  

‘It’s especially important to keep the inside part of your mask clean, which is in contact with your skin. For day-to-day use – even if you are only wearing a mask on transport or as required indoors – remember it will trap dirt, oil and make-up. 

‘Fabric masks or home-made face coverings need to be washed daily. Using a clean face covering, along with a consistent skin care routine, will prevent breakouts and other more serious problems such as skin rashes or acne.’


Behind your ears is an area particularly vulnerable to friction – so wearing masks with straps that go there for long periods of time can be painful.

Many savvy social media users have shared their hacks for combatting this online, from using a hair clip to secure the straps to investing in a headband with buttons. 

Savvy social media users have shared their hacks for combatting sore ears from masks online. Olivia Smalley – – who calls herself the Queen of Hair Hacks on Instagram – posted this clever trick

Another way of keeping the straps off your ears is to invest in a soft headband with buttons like this. Many variations are available on sites like Etsy

Vet Maria Lagana shared this tip on Facebook, writing: ‘I crisscrossed [the straps] over ponytail, works great! No extra cloth… and I can just jump in the shower after work’

Twitter user Goofy Chick, from California, shared her PPE hack on Twitter which involves using a paperclip to connect the straps at the back of her head to her hair

These devices are another solution to preventing soreness behind the ears because they offer a fixing point behind the head

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