Mask make-up: smudge-proof and long-lasting products that will stay put

Looking for tips on how to apply make-up while wearing a mask? We've got you covered…

Included in this guide:

(Image credit: Swaddle Designs)

With face masks now mandatory in many places, perfecting our make-up has now got a whole lot harder. Here’s how to choose the best products that guarantee smudge-proof wear and the ultimate staying power. 

Let’s face it, wearing a mask does not exactly blend in well with our freshly made-up skin. Patchy foundation, smeared blusher and smudged lipstick; not a very pretty sight! And then there’s the mask itself; although many are easily washable, you don’t want to spend money on one, only to have it stained with make-up and sweat marks.

As we ease out of lockdown restrictions, many of us who have stripped back our make-up are now embracing the chance to paint our faces once again. Of course, when we didn’t have any work or social plans going bare-faced was a whole lot easier but now our relationship with make-up has changed. Being finally able to venture out has meant it’s time for many of us to brush off the cobwebs on our cosmetics and put them to good use once again.

With social media full of new beauty tutorials and skincare hacks, there’s a huge buzz around what works best when it comes to mask make-up. The ultimate goal is a product that has long-lasting wear, smudge-proof and doesn’t cause friction on the skin against a mask. 

Mask make-up: things to consider


When shopping for the best mask make-up there are two main things to consider. Firstly, and most importantly, make sure your product is smudge-proof! Face masks can easily disrupt make-up so look for products that are transfer-resistant. 

Foundation, lipstick, your eyeliner or even your brows, a smudge can be super hard to fix and can make you feel a mess. However, the beauty industry have recognised this problem – particularly since Covid - and have made smudge-proof make-up even more available on the market. 

Long-lasting wear

To achieve a flawless and long-lasting look, face makeup needs to stay put. Tears, sweat and even rain drops – your products have to be able to stay put when faced with the elements. Look for ones that are not only water-proof but also come with a long-lasting reassurance. From six up to 24 hours wear, there are so many products that guarantee to do the trick.

The secret’s in the ingredients. Look for products that have polymers or soft waxes—which both help the product stay on your skin—and strong dyes. And don’t forget, after all your hard work, be sure to use a setting spray or powder! 

The best mask make-up you can buy today:

(Image credit: IT Cosmetics)

1. IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better Setting Spray

A magical setting spray that will ensure your make-up does not budge

Reasons to buy
+It locks in your make-up for up to 16 hours+Infused with hyaluronic acid and aloe vera it nurtures the skin
Reasons to avoid
-Can get drenched if sprayed too close

We know that setting spray is the key to giving your makeup longevity and making sure it doesn't rub off on your face mask after you've completed your look. And out of all the hundreds of setting sprays on the market, this is definitely one of the best.

Worn over a full face of make-up, and mask for bus travel, the spray did everything it is supposed to do in ensuring products stayed in place. No reapplication of make-up was required and even once the mask was removed the lower part of the face was still glowing, leaving no residue on it.

The product is also super refreshing to wear, especially if a mask makes you feel stuffy, as it has a gorgeous citrus smell and does not dry skin out at all, in fact it works the opposite way in hydrating it!

(Image credit: Trish McEnvoy)

2. Trish Mcevoy 24-hour Eye Shadow And Liner

Luxury in a stick

Reasons to buy
+Remains in place for a whole day without any movement+Comes in a super stylish gold stick
Reasons to avoid
-You need a very good and effective eye-make up remover

Wearing a mask can be hot work so the last thing you want is for your eye make-up to sweat off so for something long-lasting that won’t budge this is the product to reach for! After all, mask make-up is all about emphasising the eyes – now more than ever with the rest of our face being masked by a covering.

This creamy, pigment-rich eyeshadow pen is a wonder product. It glides smoothly onto the lid or lashline for endless shading and eye defining options with maximum staying power. It's easy to use and crease-proof, with a shimmering tone that is perfectly suited for both night and day. It sets so well on the eyelid in fact that if you want to blend it in with other colours you need to do it quickly. This one has staying power! 

(Image credit: Mu-Lac)

3. Mu-lac Seal The Deal

A bargain buy that has longevity

Reasons to buy
+Made with only natural ingredients+Sets make-up perfectly
Reasons to avoid
-Powder can be a bit messy if you are not careful

Seal the deal pretty much does what it says on the product. It seals in your make-up and ensures it stays put all day. Although it works in the same way as a setting spray, in terms of stopping any make-up budging, a powder is better for oily skin complexions and leaves a nice matte finish.

Formulated with 100% natural ingredients, the application of powder ensured even a bright red lipstick worn beneath a face mask was kept in place. You just dot it gently over the lips and it made a barrier between mask and product to stop it smearing on to the cotton.  The ingredients include mica and silk mica, an innovative raw material that gives the skin a luxuriously silky finish, kaolin and zinc that have natural fixing and sebum-balancing properties, and argan, jojoba and sunflower oils for skin that is soft and hydrated. Delicious. 

(Image credit: Marc Jacobs)

4. Marc Jacobs Beauty Le Marc Lip Crème Lipstick

Does not rub off under a facemask

Reasons to buy
+Lasts the whole day
Reasons to avoid
-Can stain

Not only do masks completely cover the mouth but lipsticks are some of the most smudgy makeup items out there so finding the best product that remains intact was a huge undertaking. This Marc Jacobs one though will certainly out your pout! 

Available in a number of different shades we discovered even the darkest one stayed in place after wearing a mask. Not only that but it has such a rich and creamy texture on the lips it feels as though they are being nourished at the same time. 

The bonus longevity of the lipstick comes from concentrated colour-boosting pigments that are triple-milled and enriched with hydrating ingredients—imparting ultimate long-lasting colour and moisture.

Its subtle vanilla taste and scent make it an all-round winner. 

(Image credit: The Body Shop)

5. The Body Shop Lip And Cheek Stain

Provides the perfect rosy glow

Reasons to buy
+Two products in one+Cheap and cheerful
Reasons to avoid
-Lack of colours

This dual-purpose liquid stain should certainly be introduced to your new make-up routine as it works superbly! After all, with face masks covering both the cheek and lip area finding one product that works for both when it comes to non-smudging and longevity ticks all the right boxes!

Unlike a normal powder blusher, this can easily be applied to both cheeks and lips with your finger and after a couple of swipes, both have a natural pop of buildable colour. Love the natural-looking rosy glow that was the end result.

(Image credit: Lancome)

6. Lancome Teint Idole Ultra Wear Foundation

The best ever foundation to wear under a mask!

Reasons to buy
+Available in 45 shades+Bottle lasts a long time
Reasons to avoid

When it comes to face masks and foundation it can be super tricky finding the right combination. The heat trapped under your mask combined with the friction of wearing one can easily play havoc with all base products. This product however is heavenly for so many reasons. Numerous shades mean it is suitable for everyone and the foundation provides full coverage without feeling cakey.

Wearing a facemask on and off throughout the day not once did the foundation budge. It says it is a 24 hour smudge free and transfer free foundation and let me reassure you, it most certainly is! No need to retouch on the go and skin was left feeling flawless and comfortable all day

(Image credit: Stila)

7. Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick

Does not transfer onto mask

Reasons to buy
+Vast range of colours+Stays on for at least six hours
Reasons to avoid
-Can feel a tiny bit sticky on the lips

Just one application at 7am and 12 hours later lips were still nicely coloured. As long as you put a setting spray or powder over them the mask will not budge the product from your lips, no bleeding, nothing. It literally stains the lip and remains in place until you remove it.

Enriched with Vitamin E and Avocado Oil, the lipstick deeply nourishes and hydrates lips, and once the initial stickiness died down, they felt super smooth and soft.

(Image credit: Guerlain)

8. Guerlain Mad Eyes Precise Liner

Top marks for ease of use

Reasons to buy
+Glides on easily so suitable for even the most unsteadiness of hands+Remains matte for 24 hours
Reasons to avoid
-Produces a very thin line so not so good if you prefer a thick application

With your lips and cheeks covered, mask make-up is all about intensifying our eyes so this is an excellent product if you are wanting to create a dramatic look. A crisp, winged liner that is super easy to apply, this Guerlain beauty really helps eyes pop! Trialled on a super hot day, it didn’t budge or bleed onto the skin and even when wearing a mask on a light-night tube journey it remained as fresh as it had done 12 hours earlier. Unlike other long-lasting products, this was very easy to remove and came off straight away without having to dab the eye too much. 

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Suzanne Baum
Suzanne Baum

Suzanne is a journalist who regularly appears on the television. With a 20-year career in journalism, Suzanne's work can often be found in glossy magazines and nationals where she covers everything from health and beeauty to lifestyle and fashion.