Safety comes first, but that doesn’t mean beauty has to be abandoned. Wearing lipstick while wearing a mask may not sound practical, but it’s possible with the right formula. Lipstick is one of the most mood-boosting makeup products out there, and you should feel empowered to feel like your best, most beautified self while being a responsible citizen.
Whether you’re wearing makeup to go on a socially distanced date, a trip to the grocery store, or to sit by yourself on your couch, take the liberty of wearing lipstick, whenever for whatever, just because it makes you feel good. Promise, your color category isn’t limited to neutrals as proven by the Marie Claire beauty team’s bold picks. From smudge-proof shades to transfer-free application tips, we're showing you the mask-proof lipsticks we’ve had in rotation during quarantine, below.
Ying Chu, Beauty Director
“For practical reasons, I’ve been mostly focusing on skincare during quarantine, taking my would-be commute time in the morning and evening to add a few steps to my routine—better cleansing, smarter serums, a few masks and tools in the mix. (Five months in, my wildly unpredictable high school variety breakouts have finally subsided. That’s another story though.) I put on three minutes worth of makeup almost every day—brow pencil, blush, tinted primer, a lip tint or balm—which eases my transition from mom mode to work mode. When I’m doing a more formal (video) meeting, I’ll add eyeliner, mascara, lipstick, the works. Mascara and a serious lip change the stakes.”
“Truth is, I am wearing less lipstick at home so the lipstick I do wear needs to feel…magical. Hermès lipstick is exactly that. It’s all about the details—the refillable lacquer and brushed metal case designed by Pierre Hardy (which comes with its own teeny and lovely Hermès drawstring pouch), the super seductive click of the tube when it closes, even the subtle sandalwood-imbued scent of the lipstick was carefully considered. And the shade Rouge H is, to me, a superb red-blackberry hybrid that works on every skin tone. I’m pretty obsessed. And have gifted a few tubes to friends who are equally obsessed.”
“I love the versatility of this formula. It glides on beautifully straight from the tube for a full-on lip look. Under a mask, I tend to wear it as a stain: I do a light layer of lip balm, wait about a minute, then pat on the color starting at the center of my lips, using the side of the bullet. Then I continue patting the color with my ring finger to distribute it all over, generally avoiding the corners and my cupid’s bow so the look is more worn in, not too perfect. To finish, I press my lips together and go.”
Maya Allen, Beauty Editor
Before COVID-19, I was admittedly addicted to my makeup: I rocked bright red lipstick every other day, dazzling gold highlighter on my cheekbones, and lustrous lash extensions. When the reality of quarantine sunk in, I let go of my full-face ways to finally let my skin breathe. I took advantage of all the time spent at home to tend to my skin from the inside out, adopting a vegan diet and a fresh-faced glow. My skin changed for the better. Lipstick felt like a fond memory from when extravagant vacations and fancy dinner parties were my usual. Once Zooms and meetings picked up, I was reminded of what a swipe of lipstick and a chiseled contour can do for my confidence. Even if it’s just for taking a picture when the lighting is right, wearing makeup during quarantine makes the most mundane moments feel fun.
During quarantine, I retired my signature red lipstick for its chill little sister: pink. This rosy, raspberry shade feels just as fierce with less upkeep, and I’m making it my go-to summer vibe. It’s really all in the texture for me—the long-wear tint glides on like a gloss but offers an opaque pigment and dries in seconds. True to its name, it’s like a tattoo:Thanks to the light-as-a-feather finish, I literally forget it’s there until I look in the mirror and it doesn’t leave, transfer, or budge until I say so. Don’t ask me how, but somehow it still feels hydrating even hours in. All other lip stains can sit down now.
In honor of doing less for more, this matte and supremely long-lasting texture will truly hold your lips down without extra work. Although it’s far from permanent and easy to remove with a cleanser, it stays on like nobody’s business. I like to make the buildable tint look bold, so after applying a few layers I set aside 30 seconds to let it fully dry. Then, I blot my lips by gently pressing them together. Just like that, my job is done. I put my mask on with confidence knowing that there won't be a mess underneath.
Taylore Glynn, Associate Beauty & Health Editor
“Playing with makeup has been an important creative outlet for me during COVID-19, so I wear it on most days, even if I’m just puttering around my own apartment. I might not have control over everything in my life right now, but transforming myself each morning is one way I can still feel adventurous without leaving home. Floating eyeliner, asymmetric shadow, smudges of iridescent highlighter—they give me power, mask and all. Despite wearing a mask every time I leave the house, I still find myself wearing lipstick once in a while, even if it’s just for myself. Throwing on something audacious makes me feel more like myself, even if I’m just at my desk working from home.”
“From oxblood to scarlet to aubergine, I’ve always gravitated towards vampy shades. They imbue instant confidence for me, even on days when I’m feeling less than formidable. And for now, they bring me back to far sexier occasions in my life—think meeting friends for martinis in dim, crowded restaurants or traipsing around a far-flung European city in the wee hours. That’s the feeling I’m chasing with this elegant, demi-matte Bordeaux, and it absolutely satisfies the craving.”
“Any time I choose a rich red that needs to last, I layer it over a creamy liner in a slightly deeper shade that will help the pigment stay put. Then, I’ll use my middle finger to buff the lipstick out into a thinner layer, which keeps extra formula from rubbing off onto the inside of my mask.”
Tatjana Freund, Beauty Assistant
“For the first few months of quarantine, I wasn’t wearing makeup at all. Now, I love throwing on some eyeliner, blush, and lipstick just to give myself a confidence boost. If I’m not feeling like doing a full face, throwing on a simple lip makes me feel like I’m ready for the day.”
“I love a nude, brown ’90s lip, and being monochromatic with my makeup looks really works for me. This shade is nude but still makes my lips pop. Plus, it goes with everything so I never have to worry about it clashing with my other makeup or clothes.”
“The formula is a matte, so it’ll stay on way longer than a balmy lipstick but isn’t drying like a liquid lip. Applying multiple thin layers of the lipstick is key to making it last. If your mask does smudge it little, you can clean it up easily with your fingertips and no one will ever know.”
Lead video credits: On Tatjana: Capitanna Mask; On Maya: Ulla Johnson Mask; On Taylore: Lele Sadoughi Mask; On Ying: Tory Burch Mask.
Maya Allen is the former Digital Beauty Editor at MarieClaire.com where she covered makeup, skincare, haircare, wellness, you name it! She has a 15-step skincare routine, owns over 200 red lipsticks, and enjoys testing the latest and greatest in beauty. On most weekends, you can find her at her happy place, which is her makeup vanity. There, she’s usually blasting her speakers while singing along to lyrics at the top of her lungs, and making sure her highlighter is on point.
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