When the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, first created questions about personal protective equipment (PPE), there was a lot of confusion about the best way to protect oneself and others. Types of masks were the most significant debate, but now we’re exploring other types of protective gear.
The best part is that we now have options for how to protect ourselves comfortably, whereas just a few short months ago, we were facing shortages of masks, face shields, hand sanitizer and more.
Here we’ll examine the benefits of masks versus face shields and when you might use one over the other, or both at the same time.
Face masks are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for everyone over the age of two. While medical professionals and frontline workers should wear different personal protection equipment (PPE), everyone should wear a protective mask of some kind.
The CDC recommends that everyone wear a fabric mask when spending time outside their home, particularly in settings where six feet of distance isn’t possible.
Ideally, a good mask should be three layers. The outer layer should be constructed to help repel water droplets. The inside layer should be made of material meant to wick moisture away to keep the fabric dry and comfortable. And the middle layer should be a filtering layer of some kind, such a pm2.5 filter insert or a non-woven fabric layer, preferably with x-Silver Technology. (You can check out our article on the benefits of Nano-Silver Technology to learn more!)
Any mask you choose should fit your face correctly. That means fitting all the way snugly around the face, including over the top of the nose and under your chin. For comfort, the mask should leave a little room in front of your mouth to make talking and breathing easy without shifting the mask down your nose or over the chin.
Even though face masks are becoming second nature in the “new normal” while we learn to live with COVID-19, there are ever-evolving trends in PPE and what will suit each individual. Face shields are the latest conversation trend.
Face shields were initially limited to medical professionals, particularly those on the front lines. They often pair shields with masks and goggles, given the need to maximize protection while the nature of the virus continues to be studied.
As there is no shortage of face shields, even Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently advised that the public consider using face shields to help protect themselves from COVID-19 as well as the flu.
In an Instagram Live with ABC News, Dr. Anthony Fauci said, “if you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it.” He further noted that face and eye shields are "not universally recommended" at this time, "but if you really want to be complete, you should probably use it if you can."
He went on to say that perfect protection for the mucosal surfaces requires complete coverage, "You have mucosa in the nose, mucosa in the mouth, but you also have mucosa in the eye. Theoretically, you should protect all the mucosal surfaces. So, if you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it."
In addition to providing added protection, face shield wearers may feel less overheated and find it easier to breathe, especially during the warmer months of the year.
For those who work with people who are hearing-impaired, it can be helpful to wear a face shield without a mask so that people can see you speak. And for those interacting with people who may be intimidated by not being able to see your face, such as social workers who need to talk to children, a face shield may be an ideal alternative.
Face shields are also touted as easy to clean, and many have observed that they don’t fog up the way glasses fog up when you use a mask. Plus, they are an added safety layer that keeps the wearer from touching their face.
Should You Wear a Face Mask and a Face Shield?
While it may be tempting to wear a shield on its own because of the added comfort, it’s worth noting that a face shield will not protect those around you. Sneezes, coughs, and even loud speech will still be able to spread germs and viruses through the sides and bottom of the face shield.
Doctors, experts, professors, and the CDC warn against wearing the face shield instead of a mask, but do discuss the benefits of both.
When you wear only a mask, your eyes go unprotected. When you wear only a shield, those around you remain unprotected, and because of the open fit at the bottom of the shield, there are still ways water droplets may reach your mouth and nose.
Ideally, those who want to maximize their protection while also protecting others will wear a combination of a mask and face shield. This will become increasingly important as we head into flu season, when we’ll need to be on high alert for both COVID and the flu.
No matter what type of protective covering you choose, it is equally important to ensure your face mask and shields are high quality. Reusable face masks and shields from Boomer Naturals meet all current WHO standards for effective protection, and are designed to fit into your life easily. Check out our always in-stock selection today!