How to Look Great While Wearing Masks

Me with my Walgreen's mask & Tarte eyeliner
Me with my Walgreen’s mask & Tarte eyeliner

Many women with serious illnesses like 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.

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:

How to Look Great While Wearing Masks: 4 Suggestions

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 if you want to.  (If you’re not in the mood, carry on with your day.)
  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!

Fashionably ill has recently been nominated for a WEGO: Best in Show Blog Award.  Please endorse the blog here on WEGO’s website (endorsing is like voting; no money required–click purple button).

–Your Stylist,

Jessica Gimeno

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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.

2 thoughts on “How to Look Great While Wearing Masks

  • January 3, 2016 at 8:07 pm

    Enjoying your articles Jessica. Love the mask one… would like to share that with my health group.


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