There are some things I don’t feel all the way comfortable doing in public. Until recently, I probably would have told you that wandering around with a face mask made the list—but that all changed this weekend, when I decided to take on #PDFM (public display of face masking). Over the course of 24 hours, I wore three avocado face masks for roughly 30-45 minutes each to stroll around New York… and discovered that it’s actually kind of awesome—not because you learn to ~ignore~ the stares you will undoubtedly get, but because it feels a lot more like self-care to stop scrolling, breathe in fresh air, and show your mind the same kind of love that you’re giving your skin.
I started my experiment on Sunday morning, when I was blessed with the most perfect sunny weather and blue skies for a walk around my neighborhood. When it comes to skincare, I’m very much a “less is more” kind of gal, so I opted to make my own DIY mask at home: plain and simple, I mashed one avocado with a tablespoon of honey and a tablespoon of olive oil until it was the perfect consistency to spread across my face (and hopefully stay in place). I smeared a little more goo than my cheekbones needed on the first try, but I figured it would be good to see how well a chunky avocado mask held up while I paced around the Upper West Side versus my usual sprawl on the couch.
I pulled up a picture of Cher’s PDFM for one last glimmer of confidence before stepping out onto Columbus, and then ventured out around the block before making my way to Central Park. I have to admit, even though the first session was the one where I encountered the most people while sporting uneven green lumps across my forehead, it was also the most enjoyable. Some people definitely looked at me funny, but for some reason, it almost seemed to make sense that a weekend morning would be prime time for a mask on-the-go.
The breeze felt like heaven, and pairing a physical activity with my skin hydration routine just made me feel that much more on top of my game, tbh. As I made my rounds by Strawberry Fields, I caught an older lady staring. I smiled, and she genuinely smiled back…although, I regret to report that no such interactions went down with babies. They really just didn’t get it.
Later that night, after a day of biking in the sun, I prepared for round two. Sure, a freshly made avocado mask looks better, but I really believe that the mush that’s been sitting in the fridge for a couple of hours is the true winner. Since I now knew the mask could make it at least 30 minutes without crumbling off, I decided to tackle the subway. The cold mask felt so damn good that I couldn’t be bothered with anything else. I did receive more stares than I had in the morning, which led me to believe that maybe PDFM is just more acceptable at the beginning of the day. Almost everyone tried to be discreet with their looks, but when I stepped out of the train at Columbus Circle, one man’s jaw literally dropped at the sight of me.
Suffice to say, my walk back to my apartment was just as good as the one in the morning. Although the temperature had been relatively low for July earlier in the day (low 80s), the lack of heat and sunlight preserved my face mask even better. As I happily walked down the street, I heard a man yell, “WHAT THE HELL IS THAT!” and I immediately burst out laughing. I explained PDFM to him and he responded, “Well you never know, because some people’s faces look like that.” Do they? I thanked him for braving up the courage to ask me and then continued on my way back home. If it hadn’t been for the avocado starting to dry up after half an hour, I definitely could’ve kept going. My face was silky smooth by the time I made it to bed.
To be honest, Reader, if Sunday morning is the best time for PDFM, then Monday morning is the worst time to partake. After having already done two masks the day before, my skin did not want more avocado oil. I slathered on what I could without it falling off and then made my way down to the subway for the last leg of my PDFM project: my morning commute to the office. Nobody gave me particularly weird looks, but then again, nobody really wants to make eye contact with strangers first thing on a Monday morning. This was my least favorite session of PDFM both because I wasn’t actually exercising outside on a beautiful day off and because masking felt like overboard at this point. Still, it was totally worth it just to see my coworkers’ reactions when I walked into the office.
All in all, I highly recommend PDFM and would one hundred percent do it again in the future, be it with a sheet mask, a clay mask from the store, or another one made from scratch at home. Doing three sessions over 24 hours was the perfect amount; even though I was ready to wrap up by the third mask, following up from the first two helped seal my face with moisture and kick my latest breakout to the curb. If we can post selfies in our face masks for the world to see how well we take care of ourselves, then we can definitely reap the benefits of actually going outside and going for a walk in the park at the same time. Who cares if you secretly end up on someone’s Snapchat? Cher definitely wouldn’t.
Feature image via Cher World ; graphic via Madison Terry