As the latest best practices regarding face masks continue evolving in response to COVID-19, it can be a challenge to keep up with new information. Today, we’re diving into face coverings that aren’t effective, and how to ensure the safety and health of yourself and your family. We’ve got the latest answers to your questions about cloth, homemade, and other types of face masks.
Do Face Masks Work for Coronavirus?
Selecting a mask that fits correctly, regularly washing your hands, avoiding touching your face, and following social distancing guidelines are not only recommended by health professionals, but are quickly becoming common-sense safety and best health practices in the United States.
Face Coverings from Least to Most Effective
Initially, grabbing an old t-shirt from the back of your closet or digging out a neck gaiter from your hiking and fishing gear was the best and fastest way to create a layer of protection, but now we know which layers are the most and least effective for everyday virus protection.
Neck Fleece and Bandanas
Unfortunately, neck fleece and bandanas are the worst possible face masks a person can use. A study published in Science Advances showed these two options are actually the least effective coverings to wear for protection against coronavirus.
Neck fleece, for example, doesn’t have the wicking power to keep moisture from building up. The fabric's nature actually adds to the risk factor because, on average, the wearer will generate more droplets while breathing than when his or her nose and mouth are fully exposed. This creates added risk for the wearer and the people around them.
Bandanas are also not a great choice for a few reasons. Because they are not constructed to cover the face effectively (i.e., fitting snugly around the nose and mouth with no gaps), they are essentially the same as going barefaced.
The airflow problem with neck fleeces and bandanas also creates a dangerous microbiome as larger droplets are sheared into smaller ones. This spatter effect means an exhale from the wearer is more dangerous to passersby, and droplets in the air that are much more dangerous to the wearer.
Converted T-Shirts and Neck Gaiters
Given what we now know, single-layer cotton masks just aren’t as effective as other options that are now available to us. However, they are better than wearing nothing and a single-layer mask made from upcycled t-shirts, remnants, and other sources can still be useful. As long as the mask is fitted and worn correctly, it does offer some protection.
Neck gaiters are also typically a single layer of fabric, which limits their effectiveness. Their best redeeming factor is that they can be worn fitted over the nose, which is needed for maximum effectiveness. Unlike bandanas, neck gaiters rest along the collar bone, creating the seal needed below the chin to keep droplets from getting access to the respiratory system. However, Boomer Naturals does offer a reusable Neck Gaiter that has two layers, each enhanced with Nano-Silver Technology.
To maximize their usefulness, be sure to wear fabric masks and gaiters correctly. Wash them after every use and let them dry completely before using them again.
Surgical masks have been hotly debated this year, but mostly over misunderstandings about their design. While they come in one, three, and five layers—which has an impact on effectiveness—the thing to remember is that surgical masks are very simply designed to offer some light protection for those who have contact with the wearer. However, most surgical masks do not offer a snug fit around the nose, cheeks, and chin. In fact, because they aren’t adjustable, they often leave significant gaps at the sides of the face where air and droplets will be sucked in as the wearer breathes.
The design of surgical masks is two-fold. One reason is that they are meant to be worn by patients who are already sick and can be contagious. By placing a surgical mask on the patient, healthcare workers are protecting themselves from sneezes and coughs that may put them at risk.
The second reason is for the masks to be worn by medical professionals during surgery to minimize aerosolized particles from the wearer to reduce the risk factor of infections in the patient. Surgical masks, mainly single-layer masks, are not an effective everyday defense against COVID-19 when compared to the other options currently available to the public.
The Most Important Face Mask Features
For optimal protection, choose masks with a hydrophobic outer layer to disperse droplets before they can penetrate deeper layers. Ensure a tight weave or filtered middle layer for added protection that will block transmission. You should also choose an inner layer that is hydrophilic to wick moisture away from the nose and mouth.
Other than wearing your mask correctly and making sure it is fitted to your face, layers are the next best defense against the virus. Just as the three- and five-layer surgical masks are vital for those who want added protection while wearing them, cloth masks with layers also offer added protection as well.
Finally, look for high-quality, durable masks designed with Nano-Silver Technology. These have the added benefit of integrating antimicrobial features into your mask to help protect you from a wider variety of immunity-threatening particles. This is useful for anyone searching for everyday face masks, and is especially helpful for those with compromised immune systems or at-risk populations.
Boomer Naturals Face Masks come in several sizes, have all the features you need to get the right fit, and include high-tech layers and fabrics to ensure the best possible protection for you and those around you. In fact, independent laboratory tests performed at an FDA registered laboratory show the Boomer Nano-Silver Reusable Face Masks upgraded protection activity even after a 24-hour contact period. This means Boomer Naturals’ Reusable Face Masks offer exceptional protection that can’t be found in a homemade fabric mask, cotton mask, or surgical mask.