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Mastering the mask

Everything you need to know to wear a mask like a pro

With masks becoming mandatory in shops and on public transport, more of us will have to adjust to a slightly new way of life. While we’ll all continue to smile at strangers only to realise they can’t tell for a while, here’s a handy guide to help you nail everything else when it comes to donning the mask. By Sadia Nowshin.

Where to find them

Though they’ve become arguably the most sought-after accessory this season, there are still places you can grab a face mask before they sell out:

Etsy

Support a small business by buying from Etsy – you can choose from a simple fabric covering to ones with insertable filters.

Boots

A solid range to choose from.

OnePoundMask

A small business offering certified masks to people in need, OnePoundMask aim to combat PPE fraud and sells masks for just £1.

Try your hand at a bit of DIY

Follow these guides to make a mask out of a t-shirt, bandana or sock (just be sure to give them a wash first…).

How to wear them (properly!)

To get the best protection the mask can offer: make sure your nose and mouth are both fully covered. Get a mask that fits well so there aren’t gaps on the sides or at the bottom – if the mask is too big, you can tie the straps behind your ears to tighten it. Make sure your hands are clean before you put it on and only touch the straps when you take it off.

For the glasses-wearers amongst us, the routine of fogging up your glasses may be enough to tempt you to ditch the luxury of being able to see clearly and just attempt to feel your way around a blurry world.

It doesn’t have to come to that – pull the mask up a little higher under your eyes and wear your glasses on top, and try to breathe out downwards. If all else fails, maybe just give up and switch to contacts.

Watch this video for some tips:

Saving your skin

Wearing masks can lead to irritated skin. To avoid the discomfort, follow some simple steps:

😷 Find masks made with tightly woven cotton instead of synthetic fabric.

😷 Wash your mask regularly to avoid breakouts.

😷 Make sure your skincare routine is hydrating to combat the drying effect of the mask.

😷 Keep makeup under the mask light to avoid clogging pores, and use vaseline on areas you’ve noticed tend to chafe or rub.

Avoiding makeup mishaps

As I discovered a couple of weekends ago, an annoying downside is finding your carefully applied highlighter and lipstick staining the mask in a perfect imprint of your face.

For those who rely on a red lip, changes will have to be made. According to Danielle Roberts, a global make-up artist for Urban Decay, “now is the time to be more dramatic with eye make-up including colour play and different textures as our lips, which are usually the pop of colour in a look, won’t be visible.”

With your eyes the only things on display, experimenting with eyeshadow looks (and matching it to your mask!) means your hard work isn’t smudged everywhere once you get off the bus 🤡

What NOT to do

Just to make it extra clear what the etiquette is, here’s what you shouldn’t be doing. Under any circumstances. Ever.

Cut holes.

For those who have considered buying net masks or poking some handy air holes: don’t.

Wear it as a kind of chic neckerchief.

Taking the mask down as soon as people have looked away defeats the point. Plus, by pulling it down, you’ll have spread any infectious droplets onto your hands.

Not washing reusable masks.

Firstly, gross. Secondly, reusable masks should be washed after use so it’s a good idea to get more than one. Treat them like your socks, or underwear – and if that means you’re still wearing them without washing then, again: gross.