SEOUL — After Kim Se-han, 30, a research scientist at a dairy company, was notified last month to wear a face mask in the office to prevent spread of the novel coronavirus, she started to feel a sense of freedom from a troublesome routine: wearing makeup every day.
“I used to feel pressure every morning to wear makeup, but now my colleagues and I do not put much makeup on as we started to wear masks at work,” Kim said. “This is really comfortable because I do not have to care about how I would look without makeup and it saves time in the morning.”
The COVID-19 outbreak is being taken very seriously in Korea, where, as of Wednesday afternoon there were 51 confirmed cases. Many people wear masks to go out every day, and the facial barriers are coming hard to come by, with some online retailers running out of stock.
As the coronavirus outbreak has forced people to wear face masks, many have opted to go makeup-free in the world’s sixth-largest cosmetics market.
“I used to wear lipstick almost every day, which I got used to, but I don’t have to wear it now because the face mask covers most of my face anyway,” said Yoo A-mi, a 32-year-old robotics researcher in Gwangju.
“Actually it is very comfortable. … I do not have to fix the lipstick throughout the day.”
Sales at cosmetic brands have declined around 50 to 70 percent compared to last month, Cho Young-mi, cosmetics brand RMP’s sales manager, told The Korea Herald.
“It seems the novel coronavirus hit the cosmetics industry, as many people have stopped visiting cosmetics stores,” Cho said. “We canceled makeup services because customers were reluctant to take off their masks for services and even department stores recommend canceling makeup services.”
Some doctors do not recommend wearing a face mask over makeup because it could cause a chemical reaction.
“People visit clinics for skin troubles after wearing a mask over makeup. They are allergic to some types of face masks, so it is important to find masks that do not cause an allergic reaction,” said Joo Ki-yun, a dermatologist at Vitamin Clinic.
Some try something different, bold makeup
Many people, however, still pursue full makeup, whether for personal satisfaction or feeling it necessary to have a “finished” look at work, despite the discomfort of wearing makeup under a mask.
A post on an online community site of mothers in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, asked, “How do you all wear makeup these days when you have to? Wearing a mask is suffocating and smears makeup. This is really stressful.”
Experts advise applying a thin layer of foundation, patting it on with a makeup sponge to help the product sink in, and to emphasize the eyes.
“While applying light skin makeup, I would recommend volumizing eyelashes as much as possible using mascara and an eyelash curler,” Cho at RMP said. For a more dramatic look, apply a color of mascara over a coat of black mascara, she recommended.
Oh Dae-sik, a professor of beauty and health care at Daejeon University and a former chief makeup artist at Chanel in Korea, said wearing a face mask is, ironically, an opportune time to change your makeup style — especially eye makeup.
“Many people are stuck with the same makeup style, self-conscious about how they would look to others. Many Koreans just focus on skin makeup to look neat and tend to be afraid of applying colors on their face,” Oh said. “When it comes to makeup, you should dare to change the style. Once you make a change, then that style will be yours.”
“The face mask will hide who you are anyway,” Oh said. “So why not try a new style?”