It looks like beauty influencers have found a way to make face masks more stylish amid the COVID-19 outbreak. They’ve posted YouTube tutorials and Instagram selfies to flaunt eyeshadow looks and give other makeup tips while wearing a face mask.
While we understand that these posts weren’t made to deliberately harm anyone, people might also find these insensitive.
As of writing, there are over 114,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide. In the Philippines, there are now 33 cases and still counting. Ever since the first global cases were reported earlier this year, we’ve seen news of people hoarding hand sanitizers and face masks out of fear of contracting the disease.
However, the World Health Organization (WHO) noted that face masks won’t prevent people from getting infected. The only ones who should wear a face mask are healthcare professionals, people who are taking care of someone with suspected COVID-19 and people who are coughing and sneezing.
If you look at the #maskmakeup hashtag on Instagram, you’ll see some posts of men and women with colorful eyeshadow and graphic liner to go with their surgical masks. Metro UK also listed down Instagram posts that showed influencers with glittery eyelids and one wearing white-out contacts with the caption “IT’S CORONA TIME.”
On Feb. 8, YouTuber Lorraine_miaol also posted a review of “mask-proof” foundations that are “anti-coronavirus must-haves.” In the video, she tested out six longwear foundations to see which ones would stain face masks. Lorraine wrote in the video’s description, “My home country is going through a deadly coronavirus outbreak, this video is dedicated to all the people out there in need of an intact makeup with mask on.”
It’s important to note that mask-wearing is pretty common in Asian countries like China, South Korea and Japan. Before the world found out about the 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV), citizens from these countries would wear masks as a result of past global pandemics like Bird Flu and SARS.
According to Quartz, it became common in Japan during the early years of 20th century when an influenza pandemic took the lives of up to 40 million people globally. The Japanese were also required to wear face masks after the Kanto earthquake in 1923, which resulted in the sky being filled with smoke.
In today’s climate though, the reasons for wearing a mask in East Asian countries range from disease prevention and protection from bad air quality to simply wearing face masks as an accessory.
In the context of #maskmakeup during the COVID-19 outbreak, it seems like they’re downplaying the situation. It’s true that symptoms of COVID-19 can be treated and that many patients are in stable condition and have recovered. But is this really the right time to promote makeup skills and reviews? We’re not even sure how many people are looking up tips on how to keep their makeup intact under a face mask. If they are, we doubt that it’s more popular than people looking up COVID-related articles. (e.g. symptoms, where to get checked, etc.)
We know many are trying to distract themselves from the bad news, as well as trying not to cause panic while raising awareness about COVID-19 and the state of their country’s healthcare. #maskmakeup is definitely not it because wearing a face mask isn’t a fashion or beauty trend that perfectly healthy people should jump on. It’s a necessity for healthcare workers and sick people who don’t want to spread the virus.
That said, this is also the perfect time to remind everyone (for the nth time) to wash your hands, avoid crowded places as much as possible, take your vitamin C and cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing. If you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, contact the Department of Health (DOH) at (02)8-651-7800 local: 1149-1150 or go to a nearby hospital’s emergency unit to get checked.
Art by Tricia Guevara
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