For refined, upper-class ladies in 16th-century Europe, getting a tan, especially on your face, was not a good look.
The implication of such coloring was that one must work outside, and thus, quite possibly be poor (cue gasps and swooning faints). So to make sure they didn’t get burned, some 16th-century ladies wore face masks called visards (or vizards) that covered their delicate visages. Unfortunately, the masks also made it so they couldn’t speak. And, look as if they belonged to an evil cult.
The visard was a very simple mask that nonetheless made quite an impression. Only a handful of surviving visards have ever been found. Luckily, the most intact specimen, the “Daventry Mask,” gives a clear picture of a visard’s construction. Found tucked away in the wall of a 16th-century stone building near the town of Daventry in Northamptonshire, the mask consists of an outer layer of black velvet, followed by layers of pressed paper, with a lining of silk on the inside. The oval face covering extends out to accommodate the nose, and there are small holes for eyeholes and an opening for the mouth.
With this quote:
Phillip Stubbes (1583) wrote:When they use to ride abrod they have invisories, or visors made of velvet, wherwith they cover all their faces, having holes made in them against their eyes, whereout they look. So that if a man, that knew not their guise before, should chaunce to meet one of them, hee would think hee met a monster or a devil, for face hee can see none, but two brode holes against her eyes with glasses in them.
For corresponding ladies' fashion: Farthingales & Vizards – Elizabethan Women & their Dress