How to Look Great While Wearing Masks; Tarte’s Awesome Eyeliner

Many women with cancer or autoimmune diseases find it hard not to get the flu, which can often trigger a relapse.  Since none of us enjoys chemo or plasmapheresis or IVIG, I have to address this subject.  The best way to avoid getting the flu is to never leave the house.  But this is not practical!  Many of you are mothers who will inevitably interact with other children who are your kids’ playmates and classmates.  Unless you avoid all social gatherings with friends and family, you will occasionally eat out at restaurants and go shopping.  Some of you, despite having very painful and tiring illnesses, are forced to work to pay for your endless medical bills.

Me with my Walgreen’s mask & Tarte eyeliner

This is a position I know all too well, as someone with four major illnesses, who has been rejected from Social Security and Medicaid multiple times.  Also, because of my weak immune system, I can’t get the flu shot or any vaccine.  Wearing masks at work everyday has made it easier to avoid getting the flu.  I’ve noticed that the more I wear masks, the fewer “close calls” I experience.  I buy my masks at Walgreen’s–see them here:

Walgreen’s Face Mask (Earloop Style)

How to Look Great While Wearing Masks

For a long time, I thought I looked stupid with my gloves and masks.  But then I realized that if I treat them like they’re not a big deal, most people will do the same.  Here are tips for looking great:

  1. Walk into the room smiling.  When you’re smiling, it shows in your eyes even though your mouth is covered.
  2. Act like they’re accessories akin to a necklace or barrette.
  3. Educate people who ask questions.  When someone asks you why you’re wearing a mask, tell him or her about your illness.  Don’t go into details you don’t feel comfortable sharing like “my current white blood cell count is…”  But explain why your immune system is down.
  4. Wear eyeliner.  I love Tarte’s EmphasEYES Waterproof Amazonian Clay Shadow/Liner, which lives up to its promise of lasting 12 hours!  (This is the eyeliner I’m wearing in the picture.)  The box comes with helpful diagrams and instructions.  I don’t wear eyeliner everyday.  When I’m running late, I find it’s more important to get to work on time than have Mad Men “cat eyes.”  (Later, I’ll be ranking the best eyeliners.  Check out this picture of Tarte’s product from; I love Sephora!) 

What to Do If  You Know Someone Who Wears Gloves & Masks

I used to have an officemate who asked me every time she saw me in a mask, “ARE YOU OKAY?”  She would ask it in a dramatic, loud tone as if I just had a stroke.   And she always asked at staff meetings.  When someone wears gloves and masks, it’s not necessary to always ask how she’s doing or to ask in public.  If you’re going out to a restaurant or store, you can do little things for your friend like open doors so she can avoid germs.  If you really want to know what she experiences, you can try wearing gloves and a mask for a whole day!

Your Turn?

For those of you with illnesses, how do you avoid getting colds or the flu?  What has helped you most?

–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno


Hi there! I am a patient advocate, writer, and public speaker most well known for my TEDx Talk, “How to Get Stuff Done When You Are Depressed.” As someone who is juggling 5 illnesses: bipolar 2, myasthenia gravis, endometriosis, psoriasis, and asthma, I’m passionate about helping people who navigate life with both chronic physical & emotional pain. If you’re interested in hiring me to speak at your event, check out the CONTACT tab.

11 thoughts on “How to Look Great While Wearing Masks; Tarte’s Awesome Eyeliner

  • July 4, 2012 at 11:31 am

    I am joining the sisterhood…

  • July 15, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    me too..i wanna join :D/

    • August 8, 2012 at 7:10 pm

      Hey Mei, Thanks for the praise! I’m glad you’re joining the sisterhood. Please share our sisterhood with anyone who could use this information.

  • August 25, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Good advice and bravo for the guts to wear the mask and gloves – just think of the pictures of so many on the streets of Tokyo wearing them!
    I’m bedridden for the most part but my family brings home germs and I get sick but they don’t! I wrote a post on my blog on how I deal with waiting rooms for anyone who wants to know, though it does take a bit (!) of nerve. It was one of my most early posts if anyone wants to read it…when I was still having huge formatting problems, I must warn you.
    I’m really enjoying your work here, Jessica – I really mean it. Great job. (I can’t figure out how to join, however! Help?)
    Irene xx

    • October 21, 2012 at 9:43 pm

      Hey Irene,
      Thanks for following me. I read your article and tweeted it: From @upasbook Mom living w/ CFIDS/ME/CFS #Fibro talks about #autoimmune ordeal-avoiding #germs & dealing with waiting rooms-some good tips.

      I love hearing from you. Sorry it took me so long to respond–full time job, flare ups, and deleting hundreds of spam comments every week…thanks for your patience. I appreciate your loyal support. Let me know how I can help you with your blog or what other subjects you’d like me to cover. Right now “the sisterhood” is figurative–reading my website, sharing it, and leaving comments. IF you have ideas, I suppose it could be more official–not sure how? I’m new to this. Look forward to more of your work too! Jessica

  • April 27, 2013 at 10:35 am

    That’s a pretty cool entry. I love how you make yourself look cute with the mask, not in spite of it.

    I had a friend in 2006/7 with cystic fibrosis, which is a lung disease that requires transplant. When I met her the first time, she wore a cartridge respirator due to her CF immune system. You know, one of those reusable masks with the filters portruding out the sides.

    And she was gorgeous. It fit her style anyhow, that of a “cyber goth”, apparently. She did modeling just for fun, and knew how to do the make up thing really well.

    If more young women in that situation would do as you say and treat the mask as another piece of clothing, maybe any stigma would be reduced.

    Good luck with everything. You are lovely.

    • August 2, 2013 at 9:46 pm

      Dear Martin,
      Thanks for sharing. It’s so nice to meet someone with an open-minded view of beauty; my blog is for sick women and those who love them. Your friend sounds very fortunate to have you. Indeed CF is a very hard disease. I try to see my masks and gloves as headbands or bracelets, accessories. Thank you for the well wishes. Your positive feedback is so helpful. I would have responded much earlier however I was laid off recently. Between being very tired and looking for a job among other things, it’s been hard to be consistent with the blog. But know that your comment meant a lot to me, Jessica

  • December 13, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    You can also decorate your masks.
    I have a poor immune system due to my medical conditions (EDS-H, RSD/CRPS, Atopy, Raynaud’s JRA, HLA B27+ etc) and chronic pain, and was diagnosed with breast cancer on 22/12/11 at age 40 and had to undergo chemotherapy. I had to wear a mask when out or visiting etc because my immune system tanked (in fact I sent a week in strict isolation at the hospital when my neutrophil count dropped to 0.00 and my temp spiked to 40.6C/105.1F, and I was diagnosed with neutropenic septicaemia – the only bonus of isolation was that for ONCE I WASN’T the one who had to wear the mask :o), everyone who entered my room had to wear a mask, gloves and gown). Also hand sanitiser became my best friend and every entering my house had to use it.
    Congrats on a great site and I hope you aren’t flaring too much at the moment.’
    I sometimes decorated my masks for some fun, I drew faces on them, stuck on stickers and adhesive gemstones etc, anything to make them a bit of fun, if people were going to look at me anyway with my bald head, little or no eyebrows and eyelashes, swollen up from the steroids (which help stop the chemo killing you), and a mask (and gloves too sometimes) I though I would at least give them something to look at, in fact it became a good talking point sometimes.

    • January 7, 2014 at 9:59 pm

      Dear Shazinoz,
      Decorating masks sounds like a great idea! I’ll be sure to try it sometime (maybe I should bedazzle it?). I already wear gloves everyday (the blue smurf-colored ones) so it should be interesting. I’m feeling alright this week–thank you for asking. I was in tremendous pain last week.

      • October 18, 2019 at 1:42 am

        Omg this totally helped me! I’m a 20yr old in South Florida and going outside is always with a mask on is always awkward for me. I’m always getting sick though so I wear them a lot. Glad to see I’m not the only girl struggling with trying to look normal and better yet cute while wearing my masks


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