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You can learn to love a mask

With masks now compulsory in plenty of places, we’re all going to have to get used to them. 

But many people will be picking up their face covering with a sinking feeling, envisaging hours of discomfort ahead of them — not to mention a serious fashion conundrum. 

Luckily, SARAH RAINEY has all you need to know about how to mask up comfortably, stylishly and cleverly, and how to help your little ones get the hang of them, too…  

Wearing a covering all day can take its toll on the face, neck and ears, but there are several ways to ensure maximum comfort.

‘Ear savers’ — elastic bands which attach to your mask straps and go around the back of your head — can take the pressure off your ears. You can make your own from a piece of elastic and two buttons, or buy one cheaply online. You can also link the straps together around the back of your head with a paperclip (use several if you need to expand the length). Hooking the straps around your ponytail works, too.

To stop the fabric chafing your nose, try attaching a flexible ‘nose wire’ — you can make one from a pipe cleaner — to the inner top half of the mask so it fits more snugly.

Some wearers also put a few drops of essential oil, such as lavender or peppermint, inside the mask, creating a spa-like experience. Lavender oil has been shown to reduce signs of stress and anxiety.

Others suggest spritzing laundry spray on it for a fresh aroma.

Skincare experts recommend removing your mask every two hours and applying moisturiser or water spray to the lower half of your face to keep it hydrated.

When it comes to hair, the ‘corona pony’ is en vogue, with wearers slicking their hair into high ponytails and tight plaits to keep it away from their faces.

When you’re not wearing your mask, keep it in a clean paper bag or sandwich bag, preferably with a ziplock seal. Never put it loose in your pocket or handbag.

Experts say you should label one side of the bag ‘inside’ and the other ‘outside’, and always put your mask in the right way up, to avoid contamination. Replace the bag every day you use your mask.

Some face coverings come with cotton drawstring bags, but, like reusable masks, they must be washed at 60c to kill off bacteria.

Coordination is key, even when it comes to face coverings, and fashionistas don’t leave the house these days without matching their mask with their outfit. There are plenty of stylish options around, with designers including Mulberry and Julien Macdonald creating a range of £15 masks, stocked by Boots and John Lewis.

Rock singer Nick Cave’s wife Susie also sells luxury silk masks with matching cases for £35 through her cult label The Vampire’s Wife, a favourite with the young royals.

Glam-seekers can invest in a £400 ruby Swarovski crystal-encrusted mask created by Jennifer Lopez’s costume designer Michael Ngo, while Berlin-based fashion designer Friederike Jorzig sells a romantic white lace number for brides.

Researchers at Imperial College London are working on the so-called Mensura Mask, a bespoke, 3D-printed face shield made to fit the contours of your face.

Soon you’ll even be able to wear a mask with a picture of your own face on it — the Maskalike is set to launch next month.

However, other fashionable masks are less functional, such as the fishnet version from Pretty Little Thing, which was ridiculed for its impracticality.

All that material can get in the way of communication, so speak loudly, slowly and clearly — and be prepared to repeat yourself.

‘Smizing’, or smiling with your eyes (a skill honed by supermodels), is a face-mask must. Relax your mouth, think of someone you love and imagine staring into their eyes, softening your gaze if it feels too intense. You’ll still need to smile with your mouth a little to get the desired twinkly-eyed effect, but go for a small, closed-lip smile rather than a big toothy grin.

Experts suggest testing out expressions in a mirror using your eyes and eyebrows. Practise gestures, head tilts and body language — from raising your arms to the classic thumbs up — to get your point across, too.

While the new rules don’t apply to under-11s, and health experts don’t recommend that under-twos wear face coverings at all (as it may restrict their breathing and encourage them to touch their faces), some parents will want their children to wear masks. But it can be hard keeping little faces covered up.

Anthony Ioannou, from educational facility Abacus Ark, recommends a combination of ‘role modelling, consistency and making it interesting to them’. Try putting a face covering on their favourite toy, play games with them while wearing yours, and encourage them to choose and decorate their own.

Everyone is comfortable with different levels of risk, so use your common sense in areas where masks aren’t compulsory.

If you see someone breaking the rules in places where you are expected to wear one, let the authorities sort it out.

Etiquette expert Debora Robertson compares not wearing a mask to littering, ‘an outward sign that you expect others to be the grown-ups’. In other words, it’s rude, but not a reason to start a confrontation. 

If you meet someone who is wearing a face covering and you’re not, or vice versa, be respectful, give each other a wide berth and don’t remove yours simply to be polite. And don’t forget your furry friends. 

The Dogs’ Trust suggests introducing pets to their owners wearing face masks gradually, so as not to scare them. 

With only one feature on display when you’re wearing a mask, the eyes have it. So you need to make sure they look good. 

Make-up artists recommend the ‘peek-a-boo’ eye: curled eyelashes, plenty of exaggerated eyeliner and dramatic mascara or eyeshadow in a bright colour. 

CLAIRE COLEMAN tries out some looks…  

If you’re a total novice, an eye shadow duo, or quad, is an easy option. I went for Charlotte Tilbury’s Green Lights palette, designed to make hazel eyes pop (£40, charlottetilbury.com). 

For an easy smoky eye, make-up artist Virna Midgley suggests using the lightest colour all over your lid, and then create a C-shaped section of colour along the outer half of the upper lash line and into the crease with one of the darker shades. 

Use that same dark shade to draw a line along both lash lines, smudging to create a smoky look. 

False lashes are part of many people’s everyday look, the more outrageous the better.

I picked a pair of Fever Eyelashes with Teal Feather Plumes (£3.99, redcarpetfx.com). Virna recommends swapping its white glue for Duo Striplash Eyelash Glue (£5.79, superdrug.com) in black which won’t show when it dries. 

Squeeze a little onto your hand and drag the back side of the lash through it, then wait — you want it to be tacky but not too wet. 

Use tweezers to place the lashes in position, then press them down with your fingernail. 

As identified by Vogue, electric shades reminiscent of the Nineties rave scene are the season’s hottest look.

Some of the easiest to use are the Barry M Hi Vis Neon Eyeliners (£3.99) and the Hi Vis Neon Pigment Body Paint (£4.99, barrym.com) which I used to create my neon look here. 

Simply dab a wet brush on the dry paints and apply to the eyelid, and then use a combination of eyeliners on the waterline and just below the lash line.

For a real change, and one that will really make you stand out from the masked crowd, try a whole new eye colour. 

As a brown-eyed girl, I try the piercing blue Pixie lenses from Crazy FX (£25, contactlenses.co.uk). They’re easy enough to put in and take out, but they do take a while to settle on the eye.

However, the result is certainly eye-popping. Dotty mask (four for £10, popsyclothing.co.uk).

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