With DIY, medical and fashion-forward cloth masks flooding the market, finding the best face mask for pandemic life has become increasingly complex. Health and safety are the talk of the town and almost everyone is trying to choose a mask that will offer comfort and realistic protection. Here are some tips on how to choose the best mask for yourself and your family during the pandemic, including the best size, shape, materials, technology and more.
Face Mask Varieties You Need To Understand
If you’re asking yourself how to stay safe and protect your loved ones by choosing the right mask, you’re in the right place. There are a surprising number of mask varieties — here’s what you need to know about the different types of masks available.
At the outset of the pandemic, people went gaga for N95 masks. These are the tightly fitted masks that medical professionals use to stay safe while working in environments with a high viral load. This means they face a lot of exposure because they are working in heavily contaminated environments.
N95 masks are 95% effective at filtering particles down to 0.1 to 0.3 microns in size. They are also 99.5% effective against most bacteria and other larger particles. These masks are not generally reusable. Some of these masks have a respirator, but this only protects the wearer. When the wearer exhales, their unfiltered breath leaves those around the wearer vulnerable to infection.
These masks are regulated by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). They are not currently recommended for the general public because of the lower likelihood of exposure than medical staff.
Those blue medical masks are everywhere. Pre-pandemic, they were generally used by professionals who aren’t necessarily exposed to infectious people, but who work with blood in environments where there is a higher possibility of aerosol exposure. You might also put them on patients who are coughing or sneezing a lot.
We now understand that these surgical masks offer limited protection against the COVID-19 virus because there isn’t a reliable seal around the nose and mouth. The general public can make and buy masks that will be more effective.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends cloth face masks for everyday use in public places where at least six feet of distance from people can’t be maintained. And the World Health Organization (WHO) has advice on when and how to wear non-medical fabric masks safely. Most notably, they both discuss the need to wear cloth masks with a close fit around your nose and mouth. Choosing a multi-layered cloth mask that fits correctly will help reduce the possibility of infected droplets passing to your nose and mouth.
Face Mask Features And Tech You Need To Know About
At first, you may have been using loose-fitting surgical masks or something made out of an old t-shirt. That’s OK! Wearing something is better than nothing. Now that we better understand and continue to learn about the COVID-19 virus, we are gaining a clearer understanding of what offers the best protection for you based on your lifestyle.
Disposable Masks and Reusable Masks
If you’re using a mask to run errands or return to an office environment, disposable masks will get expensive. Choose a reusable mask that you can wash at least a few times before it loses effectiveness.
Ear Loop Masks and Strap Masks
Straps allow you to tie the mask to the right fit. The downside to these is they can come loose, stretch over time and often slip out of place. You may have noticed that many masks come with ear loops that pull the mask across the face. Get a mask with adjustable ear loops to avoid “droopy mask” and “so tight my ears hurt” challenges.
Wearing even an adjustable ear loop mask all day can lead to ear irritation. Many choose to use ear savers, a plastic or silicone band that sits along the back of the head. Attach the ear loops or straps to the band for relief from that constant tugging on your ears.
Nose Wire & Chin Bands
Some masks come with a built-in wire at the bridge of the nose to help keep the mask above your nose and in place while talking or being active. This adds to the fit and function. Some masks are sewn with a seam down the middle, from nose to chin. This can also be effective as it helps the mask keep its shape during movement to prevent slipping.
A good cloth mask will come down far enough that it won’t uncover your chin or mouth while talking. Some masks even fit under the chin with a chin pocket.
Layers are probably one of the most critical factors when selecting a mask. Your cloth mask should have at least three layers to be most effective.
The innermost layer should be hydrophilic, meaning it dissolves and disperses water to keep your mask dry, which is more sanitary. The middle and outer layers should be hydrophobic, meaning they repel water and help to keep droplets from getting to your inner layer. Consider a polyester or polyester blend. This combination maximizes protection by minimizing exposure to droplets. A mask that features a nano-silver outer layer is even better, as the antimicrobial layer is more effective at filtering out contaminants and microorganisms in the air you breathe in through the mask.
Choosing The Right Mask For You And Your Loved Ones
The most important factors to consider are the right fit and materials in your face mask. This is especially important if you want your mask to do double duty — meaning you want it to protect you and those around you. Here are a few ways to choose a great mask and stay ahead of the curve when it comes to safety and comfort.
- Remember to select a three-layer mask with a hydrophilic cotton inner layer and two outer layers of hydrophobic materials, such as polyester or a polyester blend.
- If you want added protection against a broad array of microorganisms, choose a mask with Nano-Silver Technology. Remember, this is especially useful for weak immune systems, whether that is you or a loved one at home.
- The mask should be sewn so it holds its shape and closely covers your entire mouth and nose, even while talking or moving.
- Choose ear loops that will stay in place. Ideally, ear loops will be adjustable. And, if you’ll be wearing the mask all day, you might opt for accessories like an ear saver band.
- Face size and shape are important factors. Children and those with smaller faces, oval faces, and less pronounced features will want to order smaller sizes to ensure the best possible seal against their skin. Adult sizes will work for those with larger faces, square faces and round faces.
Protecting Life With the Right Mask
Everyday virus defense is the latest pursuit for many. The world is transitioning — going beyond the early pandemic days of not touching our faces and washing our hands for 20-seconds. Safety is becoming a habit and much more precise. It’s no wonder navigating this new safety landscape can be a little overwhelming. While hunting for non-toxic sanitizer and virus-killing household cleaners, discovering the intricacies of mask anatomy and tech is on everyone’s minds. You now know and understand the many options available to you and how to keep yourself and your loved ones safer with the right face mask.
Boomer Naturals is committed to making 30-Day Reusable Face Masks accessible for everyone. Our masks comply with the latest WHO guidelines, come in an array of sizes, feature comfortable ear loops and are equipped with protective Nano-Silver Technology. The daunting task of choosing a mask just got less complicated. Shop our masks today!
https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/01/29/800531753/face-masks-what-doctors-say-about-their-role-in-containing-coronavirus https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover-guidance.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fprevent-getting-sick%2Fcloth-face-cover.html https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks