Celebrity makeup artist Vincent Oquendo shares simple ways to enhance your makeup when wearing a protective face mask

By Kaitlyn Frey
June 01, 2020 04:24 PM
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Wende Zomnir
| Credit: Wende Zomnir/Instagram

While stay at home orders are lifting in areas across the country, Americans are still adjusting to a new way of life amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, including wearing a protective face mask or covering in any public place to lower the risk of transmitting the virus. While some may enjoy the freedom that brings and ditch their makeup routines, beauty lovers may feel stumped when trying to find a way to express their creativity through makeup when half their face is covered.

After talking with beauty industry experts, they insist that now, more than ever, is the time to play up the eyes and have fun with one's look. "Being safe, social distancing and wearing a face mask is absolutely essential now. So with half our face protected and covered, it is certainly an opportunity to really make the eyes look their best because they are the only part of our face we can really showcase to celebrate our individuality during this global pandemic," says celebrity makeup artist Vincent Oquendo, who works with stars like Karlie Kloss, Diane Kruger and Lily Collins.

Wende Zomnir, chief creative officer and co-founder of Urban Decay, agrees and believes that despite the need to wear face masks, "makeup will continue to be important."

She tells PEOPLE: "We have seen the industry turn completely upside down. Even though we're not together in person, we're together on screen. The screen is your impression. You're going to see an uptick in lashes, shadow and brow products."

Below, we asked Oquendo to break down some of his favorite makeup tricks to achieve quick, summer-ready looks that will still make a statement while wearing a face mask.

Dabble in Color

If you typically stick to strictly neutral tones on your lids, there's no better time to add a pop of color to the eyes. "I love colorful eye makeup so much," Oquendo tells PEOPLE. The easiest way to transition into this look is by trying a fun colored eyeliner.

"It’s a great way to lightly tip-toe in because with a colorful eyeliner you can apply a little and then smudge it so it’s diffused," he says.

To take it up a notch, he suggests going "super bold" with a "cobalt '60s winged liner if you feel inspired."

Another way to showcase your eyes is through colored mascaras. "I’ve definitely been known to swipe multiple colored mascaras on my clients on many red carpets," Oquendo says.

One of his favorites: the Shiseido Controlled Chaos Mascara in shades Sapphire Spark and Violet Vibe. "I recommend applying one colored mascara on top and a different one on the bottom to really create a jewel-toned summer look in a snap," he says.

Experiment with Glitter

A high-shine sparkly eye may seem like it takes hours to create, but what Oquendo describes as the "quickie disco glitter" look is easier than you think.

First smudge a gel eyeliner pencil on the lids with a fluffy brush. "Don't worry about being neat because you're just going to diffuse the color," Oquendo says. Then take glitter — the makeup pro loves the Space Jam Glitter Pots from Lemonhead.LA — and dab it on with your finger.

Credit: Lemonhead

"The pencil will give your glitter depth and because the glitter is in a gel, it won’t fall out all over your face and mask," he says.

Pump Up a Classic Nude Smoky Eye

If you prefer keeping things neutral, amp it up a bit. "You can never go wrong with a matte, neutral tone smoky eye," says Oquendo. "I’m a huge fan of playing up matte, nude colors. You can use rich nudes to really make your eyes look warm and double their size," he says.

Before applying the shadow, the pro suggests always starting with one drop of the Lumify Redness Reliever Eye Drops. "It makes the eyes look whiter and brighter and helps them really pop," he says.

Then start layering the colors in your crease, slowly blending from light to dark depending on how dramatic you want the look to be. "I love to create this look with the Maybelline Nudes of New York Palette because it has an array of colors, both matte and shimmer, and there is a nude for every skin tone," Oquendo says.

Give False Lashes a Try

Since many people who get eyelash extensions couldn't get touch-ups while salons were closed, Oquendo expects to see a surge in false lashes. "I think we will see a lot of people experimenting with individual and strip eyelashes. I personally love the Ardell Lash Accents filled in with the House of Lashes Single Individual Flair Lashes.”

To make application a breeze, make sure to wait at least 15 seconds after applying lash glue before placing the falsie on your lash line. Oquendo also recommends using a freestanding mirror rather than holding a compact in your hand.

"It’s nearly impossible to use a hand mirror or a compact," he says. "Start small by using very natural lashes. Even if you think they are too small for you, go with a really small set of individual lashes.”

Go Easy on the Foundation

A full face of foundation isn't necessary, especially since half your face will be covered by a mask, Oquendo says. Instead simply spot conceal with your go-to cover up and focus more on the under-eye region.

"I recommend using a long-wearing concealer like the Maybelline New York Superstay Under Eye Concealer because you will still see dark circles with a mask," he explains. "Apply it lightly with a soft fluffy brush."

Don't Hold Back with Highlighter

It's likely that your blush, bronzer or contour may not be totally visibly while wearing a face covering, so draw attention to the cheekbones using an illuminator. "It’s a great opportunity for highlighter to make them really pop," Oquendo says.

Remember, Always Use a Setting Spray

Most importantly, it's essential to lock in your look with a long-lasting setting spray since the summer heat combined with a face covering can cause makeup to melt away.

“Since we are wearing face coverings now, I think setting your makeup is absolutely essential so it doesn’t transfer," Oquendo says.