The Archdiocese of Chicago released a video showing two approved methods of applying ashes.
They include sprinkling ashes on the top of the head as is frequently done in Europe, according to a release by the diocese.
The other involves the use of a Q-Tip or a cotton ball that can be disposed of in a proper manner, the diocese said.
Ash Wednesday fall on Feb. 17 and marks the beginning of the Lenten season, which the diocese said is a solemn 40-day period devoted to reflection, prayer, spiritual preparation and fasting before Easter.
Traditionally, Catholics have ashes applied by hand to their foreheads in the shape of a cross as an outward expression of their faith, according to the diocese.
St. Peter's Catholic Church in the Loop traditionally distributes ashes to thousands who work downtown. The church's website says ashes will be distributed at the conclusion of scripture services and masses beginning at 8 a.m.
The Episcopal Diocese of Chicago is also offering options for its distribution of ashes.
According to letter posted on its website, the least risky and most recommended option is to provide ashes for pick up so that each person can self-impose the ashes in their own home.