Can You Read My Facial Expression Through a Mask?

We’re now half a year into the pandemic, and wearing a mask has become part of my daily routine (at least, whenever I leave the home). I now have several different masks depending on my mood, including a recent favorite from cotopaxi that features a wire along the top. It’s a very easy way to protect myself and be considerate of others, particularly those who are the most vulnerable to COVID.

Sure, there are some minor inconveniences: Sometimes cat hair gets inside my mask (thanks, Biddy and Walter), and unlocking my iPhone via facial recognition while wearing a mask is impossible (is Apple working on this?). It’s still a little difficult to get someone at a coffee shop or cupcakery to properly hear my name the first time I say it. Masks are great for filtering cigarette smoke when I walk past smokers in the neighborhood. Also, it’s interesting to always know what my breath smells like.

I would say the weirdest aspect of wearing a mask, though, is knowing that people can’t see my facial expression. Sometimes this is good–like when I’m yawning (not out of disinterest; sometimes I just gotta yawn)–and sometimes it’s not ideal, as facial cues are a huge part of how we communicate.

So just for fun, I photographed myself wearing a mask while expressing myself in 6 different ways: awestruck, confused, sad, happy, tired, and yawning. See if you can guess which photo matches with the expression (answers are at the end of the post).



  1. happy
  2. sad
  3. yawning
  4. confused
  5. awestruck
  6. sleepy

4 thoughts on “Can You Read My Facial Expression Through a Mask?”

  1. You would be amazed at how much you can guess just from the eyes. Sad and sleepy were pretty much interchangeable, but the rest is pretty easy to see.

  2. I was able to guess correctly only one (no. 5), I have terrible issues with reading people in masks. But maybe that’s for lack of practice, in my country we only have to wear them in closed public spaces, so for me it means once a week in a shop.


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