Skincare & Makeup Tips for Wearing Face Masks

22 June 2022


 Airin Lee is a professional makeup artist with more than 11 years of experience who has worked with brands and influencers such as The Closet Lover, Our Second Nature, Perk by Kate, Fash Mob and Andrea Chong. With her background in cosmetic science, Airin is also a fan of healthier skin practices and ingredients. In 2019, Airin launched Arly, an educational platform for viewers to learn about skincare and makeup products and application techniques.


If there’s one thing that most of us did not foresee in 2020, it’s how mask wearing has changed our beauty and skincare routines and created problems of its own. Maskne, hypersensitive skin, make up transfer are some of the challenges that have arisen from prolonged use of face masks.


This blogpost will address the practical problems of wearing makeup and tips to prevent makeup transfer or smudging. I’ll also be sharing skincare tips to keep your skin healthy and looking great while wearing face masks. Lending her expertise in this blogpost is makeup artist Airin Lee of Arly Co. She’ll be sharing her makeup tips and skincare favourites to look great and feel more confident with face masks. This post shares more details of our beauty tips and product recommendations to the video we made together. You can watch the video we made Skincare & Makeup Tips for Wearing Face Masks.


Airin is a friend of mine and we’ve worked together for a few years now- she’s my makeup artist for some shoots; and I’ve been treating her acne and blemishes in my clinic. We’ve often mused about sharing our expertise about skincare, technology and makeup…and so here it is. In the first of this two part collaboration, we’ll be focusing on how to wear skincare and makeup products under a face mask while keeping skin free of maskne.



What Are the Problems and Challenges of Wearing Face Masks

Wearing face masks for prolonged periods has a direct and indirect impact on our skin. One of the problems of wearing face masks is pressure sores/ ulcers. This phenomenon is well documented in healthcare workers who wear N95 face masks. For the rest of us who wear surgical or cloth face masks, mask acne or ‘maskne’ is much more common.


I’ve shared about maskne in this blogpost Maskne: How to Avoid Acne from Wearing Surgical Face Masks. You can read about how to treat and prevent mask related pimple breakouts in the post. Essentially, maskne happens for 2 reasons:


1) The seal formed by the face masks causes bacteria, viruses, fungi and humidity to be trapped on the skin. This allows harmful bacteria to multiply, disrupting the skin’s natural flora and tips the balance of good and bad bacteria on the skin. Inflammation also increases, setting off a chain of reactions resulting in acne vulgaris

2) Acne mechanica. Constant friction due to rubbing of the face masks on our skin causes inflammation and eruption of microcomedones to form papules and pustules- the red and yellow pimples we are familiar with .


Related blogposts:

Acne: Types, Causes, Treatments & Tips for Prevention

Acne & Diet: Foods to Avoid for Less Pimples

Probiotics in Skincare and Supplements: Do They Work?


Besides these problems, mask wearing also contributes to increased skin irritation and alters the skin’s microbiome; so there may also be flare ups of preexisting skin conditions like eczema.


Related blogposts:

Eczema: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments Explained

5 Skincare Tips for Sensitive Skin and Rosacea


Besides these dermatological problems, the practice of wearing face masks has also created practical problems for most of us- makeup transfer and smudges to face masks. Makeup transfer to face masks reduces the filtration capacities of the face mask and may worsen maskne and skin irritation.



Skincare recommendations for protecting skin under face masks


Dr Rachel Ho:

To avoid skin irritation, inflammation and maskne, choose skincare ingredients that strengthen the skin barrier and reduce inflammation. Here are my personal favourites for keeping skin healthy and maskne at bay:

Niacinamide (vitamin B3) is an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory benefits. It also improves skin barrier function and reduces oiliness at the skin to reduce pimples. You can read more about niacinamide and my product reviews in Niacinamide: A Versatile Skincare Ingredient Your Skin Will Thank You For.

Azelaic acid is another ingredient with anti-inflammatory, anti-acne and anti-hyperpigmentation benefits. It is suitable for patients with sensitive skin and conditions like rosacea. You can read more about Azelaic acid in this blogpost Azelaic Acid: A Multi-Tasking Skincare Active to Know.

Ceramides are lipids that make up the skin’s natural protective barrier against infections, toxins and transepidermal water loss. Building up the skin’s defense with ceramides helps to reduce skin hypersensitivity, dryness, irritation and premature aging. You can read about ceramides and some of my product reviews in this blogpost Ceramides in Skincare: A Relief for Sensitive and Dry Skin.


Airin Lee:

Cica– Also known as centella asiatica, Cica is a plant extract that promotes wound healing and reduces stretch marks. Cica in Skincare: Centella Asiatica Explained will share more about the science and data for using Cica.

Chamomile is a plant extract that is said to reduce inflammation and irritation in the skin

Hottunyia Cordata– this herb has been used in traditional Asian medicine for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.


The light makeup look Airin created on me for mask wearing using her tips and recommendations below.



How do I wear makeup with a face mask?

Although the best advice is to ditch makeup while wearing face masks, this may not be an option for some of us- work requirements, personal desires…etc. Whatever the reasons, sharing her makeup tips for wearing makeup under face masks is Airin Lee. For this post, she also created a makeup look for me (pictured above) with these same tips for a hassle free makeup under mask experience.


Airin Lee recommends Kosas Revealer Super Creamy + Brightening Concealer


Here are Airin Lee’s tips:


• Use loose powder on top of liquid based foundations or creams. With loose powder, it reduces the friction and ‘creases’ where the face masks rest on the skin and transfer of makeup is less likely to happen.

• Avoid makeup (e.g contouring) on the nose. The edge of the face mask that sits on the nose bridge smudges the make up

• Avoid too much makeup on the cheeks. Creases or imprints of the face mask’s edge may also form.

• Airin Lee recommends Givenchy Prisme Libre Loose Powder, Westman Atelier Vital Skin Foundation Stick, Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palatte




Focusing on the eyes is a key aspect as only the upper face is visible when wearing face masks.

• Use a concealer for your undereyes to lighten dark eye circles and blemishes.

• Besides eyeshadow on your upper eyelids, use a little eyeshadow on your lower lids to add depth to your eyes

• Use eyeshadow to underline your upper eyelids instead of an eyeliner

• Fill up your brows

• Airin Lee recommends Kosas Revealer Super Creamy + Brightening Concealer, Marc Jacobs Brow Wow Duo, Jung Saem Mool Artist Eyeshadow Palette, Clarins 4 Colour Eye Shadow Palette


A few of the lip tints that Airin Lee recommends and used on me for the makeup look that she created.



• Use lip tints or lip stains instead of lipsticks or lipgloss. Lip tints leave a stain on the lips for longer lasting coverage even though the product has been rubbed off. Lip tints also have less product transfer compared to traditional lipsticks and lipglosses.

• Airin Lee recommends Dasique Water Gloss Tint, Romand Glasting Water Tint


What can be done for skin irritation, dryness and mask-induced pimples (maskne)?

If skincare alone isn’t helping, you might need help from your doctor. For acne, you may need topical and oral medications like retinoids and treatments like Q-switched laser, chemical peels and LED light therapy. These treatments help to increase cell turnover, reduce bacterial load on the skin and lighten post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH).


Related blogposts:

10 Things to Know Before Getting Lasers

The Truth About Chemical Peels

The Beginner’s Guide to Starting Retinoids

5 Affordable & Popular Retinoid Serums Reviewed

LED Light Therapy Explained

Hyperpigmentation Disorders: Causes, Types, Treatments


Dry skin that is not improving with skincare heroes like hyaluronic acid and ceramides; injectable moisturisers like Profhilo, Skinboosters and Rejuran Healer are a consideration. By injecting hyaluronic acid into the dermis, water is drawn into the skin for longer lasting skin hydration. Injectable moisturisers also build collagen in the skin for healthier, firmer and younger looking skin. My personal favourite is Profhilo, which contains the highest concentration of hyaluronic acid across the products. I injected my own Profhilo, and I’ll be sharing the results and experience in an upcoming post. Meanwhile, you can read these related blogposts:

Everything You Need to Know About Hyaluronic Acid

5 Cult Favourite Hyaluronic Acid Serums and Moisturisers Reviewed

Is Profhilo the Injectable Skincare of the Future?

Rejuran Healer: What You Must Know Before Getting It

Skinboosters: All You Need to Know

Injectable Moisturisers Explained: Profhilo VS Rejuran Healer VS Skinboosters



Conclusion on Skincare & Makeup Tips for Face Masks and Maskne Prevention

We hope you enjoyed this collaboration on skincare and makeup hacks while wearing face masks. Maskne, skin hypersensitivity, and makeup transfer are some of the practical problems related to wearing face masks. This guide aims to share with you easy and affordable tips that you can replicate at home to keep skin healthy, looking ace and avoiding these problems. Please feel free to share this article if you found it useful and leave a comment if you have any questions.


Have a good week ahead!



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