It sounds like those big blotches on the brow are going to be absent this year, according to this report: 

Ahead of the beginning of Lent, on Wednesday, 17 February, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has published a note detailing how Catholic priests are to distribute ashes.

After blessing the ashes and sprinkling them with holy water in silence, the priest addresses those present, reciting once the formula found in the Roman Missal: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”.

At that point, the note continues, the priest “cleanses his hands, puts on a face mask, and distributes ashes to those who come to him or, if appropriate, he goes to those who are standing in their places.”

He then sprinkles the ashes on each person’s head “without saying anything.”

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: The above guidelines may be just that — guidelines. We received communication from the head of our deanery late today saying that the three dioceses in my region — Brooklyn, Rockville Centre, and New York — are discussing with canonists and liturgists the final protocols for this year, and are working on “a uniform mode of distribution.” I’ve heard of at least one nearby diocese deciding to use Q-tips.