2020 and the global coronavirus pandemic have brought significant changes to our everyday lives. Perhaps the most visible is the presence of masks in public. Research has found that masks are one of the most effective ways of controlling the spread of the virus and protecting yourself from infection or from spreading the disease to others.
As the months go by, simply having a mask on your face isn't the only priority. You need a mask that is comfortable and stylish as well as effective. Here's what you need to know about choosing the right mask in these unprecedented times.
How Many Masks Do You Need?
The coronavirus can live on fabric for some time, the amount of which varies depending on a number of conditions yet unknown. Because you have a tendency to touch your mask when you wear it and your hands may be contaminated, it is important to treat your mask as though it may be contaminated.
While it may not be necessary to wash masks between every use, it is best to have at least a mask for every day so that each mask can go 7 days between uses. Therefore, you should have a bare minimum of seven masks. However, simply having enough masks isn't all you care about. If you want masks to match different occasions, you may need even more.
What to Look for in a Mask
Different masks will meet different people's needs. Athletes and individuals who need outdoor protection may need a different mask than people who need a professional mask for a business environment. Here are a few key characteristics that are essential in your mask, and some which are convenient.
Form-Fitting Nose Bridge
The most common problem in how masks fit is at the noseband. Nosebands that don't hold the shape you bend them into may allow air to escape around the bridge of your nose. This presents a risk for the virus to enter.
If you're wearing glasses, you'll find this frustrating because your breath will tend to fog up your glasses. The mask that you choose should have a metal nose bridge that does an excellent job of forming to the shape of your nose.
The most effective (and only CDC tested) masks are N95 respirators and surgical masks. However, these masks are generally overkill for everyday use. Unless you're in a medical setting, the CDC asked that you not use these critical supplies but allow them to be reserved for healthcare workers. What the CDC does recommend is cotton face masks. 100% cotton fabric, generally of two layers, is the recommended material if you are making a face mask.
When you're shopping for a mask, it's a good idea to look for a material like non-iron safe cotton. It's not easy to iron a mask, and you probably don't want to add mask ironing to the list of things you need to do to get ready in the morning. This material won't wrinkle, even if you need to shove your mask into your pocket periodically throughout the day. Your mask will look good every time you put it on.
The last thing you want is for your mask to fall off when you need it. Your mask needs to be able to stay on no matter what you do. The best way to keep your mask on is elastic ear loops. This way, the mask won’t interfere with your hair or have a tendency to slip down onto your neck.
The elastic loops should be sewn in securely. They should be made of a quality elastic that won't wear down even in the sun. This is especially important if you'll be wearing your mask outdoors often.
Preferences in a Mask
A Sewn-in Nose Ridge
Too many masks have the tendency to push on your nose, which can be very uncomfortable or even painful over the course of the day. Choose a face mask that has the ridge built-in so your nose will be comfortable and free of excessive pressure. These masks also tend to sit nicer on the face and have a cleaner appearance.
Attractive Colors and Patterns
You might start off just wearing a black or white mask every day, but you're sure to get bored and want a mask that matches your style more closely pretty soon. If you choose a quality mask from a maker of quality men's clothes, you'll be able to match your mask to your clothes for a very finished appearance.
However, you don't want to be too on the nose and matchy-matchy. A skull print face mask is the perfect complement to a skull print dress shirt. The skull pattern is only revealed in the dress shirt when you roll up the sleeves or unbutton the top couple of buttons to show the collar shield.
A splash of pattern at the sleeves and neck will make the matching pattern on your mask look perfect. As an added benefit, details on the skull print face mask glow in the dark, so that you will look very cool in the evening as well.
Light and Breathable
Your mask needs to be able to keep out the virus, but if you'll be wearing it all day every day, you also need it to be breathable. If you feel like you can't breathe in your mask, it's time to upgrade. 100% dual yarn cotton is the ideal material to offer a very light and effective mask.
Stock Up on Quality Masks!
At this time, it doesn't look like we'll be getting away from wearing masks anytime soon. If you've been putting off purchasing quality masks while wearing uncomfortable, disposable versions, it's probably time to make an investment in a decent mask.
As frustrating as it is that you have to wear something that covers half your face when in public, if it has to be done, you want that covering to be as fashionable and comfortable as possible.