How To Be Cool In A Face Mask


A face mask is clearly the accessory of the year. Never mind what else you’re wearing, if you’re not sporting a mask, you’re woefully unfashionable… as well as posing a danger to everyone around you.

The problem is that masks can be uncomfortable, they can fog up our glasses, and, especially in summer, they can be hot. But as long as health authorities urge wearing them to contain the spread of COVID-19, we’ve got to bear with it for our own and everyone else’s safety.

When To Wear A Mask

The World Health Organization as well as the US Centers For Disease Control (CDC) guidelines are to wear face masks in public spaces and whenever you cannot socially distance six feet from other people. Wearing a mask, though, doesn’t take the place of social distancing or from washing your hands or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer on a regular basis.

What Kind Of Mask To Wear

Masks should be made of at least two layers of tightly-woven fabric and be secured with loops that go around your ears or bands that tie around your head. Research suggests that high thread-count cotton is the best choice for the outer layer, with a softer layer next to your skin. If you hold a mask up to the light and can see through it, it won’t offer enough protection.

A wide variety of plain and patterned fabric masks are now available online and at many retail outlets, and some are designed so you can insert an additional filter like a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. Homemade masks are fine, too, if they fit the requirements. Because N95 and surgical masks are still in short supply, consumers should leave them for the medical professionals who require them.

How To Wear A Mask

The rules are simple: you want to have at least two washable face masks so you can alternate them, and you want them to fit snugly, completely, and comfortably over both your mouth and nose so that you don’t spread respiratory droplets into the air. To keep it securely in place, the mask should grab under your chin. You should wash your hands before putting a mask on, try not to touch the mask while you’re wearing it, and wash your hands immediately after taking it off because the outer layer may have become contaminated by others’ airborne droplets.

How To Stay Cool

All-cotton masks have tested better than synthetic blends for wearing in the heat because cotton traps less air and moisture and is more absorbent than synthetic fibers. Bamboo material is up to three times as absorbent as cotton, and hemp fibers are also absorbent and wick moisture well. Standard advice for beating the heat, mask or otherwise, still applies: stay out of the direct sun, wear a hat with a brim, and stay hydrated.

How To Avoid Foggy Glasses

Because your breath is warm and contains moisture and a mask over your nose directs that moisture upward, it creates condensation when it hits the cooler surface of your glasses. One thing you can do to alleviate the fog problem is to look for masks that are made with a pliable nose bridge you can pinch at the top of your nose to mold it to you. You can also take your glasses off while you put your mask on, and put them on again over the mask to keep it close to your face. If you’re sure they won’t affect any special coating on your lenses, you might also try one of the anti-fog sprays or wipes that are on the market.

How To Save Your Skin

Wearing a mask traps moisture and can clog pores, leading to what has been dubbed “maskne”, a new combination of the words mask and acne. How to avoid it? Wear a clean mask every day and change masks after exercising. Skip the face makeup and oily or greasy skincare products and those with fragrances. Avoid products that contain retinoids or salicylic acid; they can be irritating under the best of circumstances and are more so if used under a mask. If you must use them, put them on at night and wash them off before you put a mask on. Treat your skin gently (no face scrubs or exfoliators), and wait for a light moisturizer or sunscreen to dry before putting on a mask.

That’s pretty much the drill. Just don’t think people don’t know if you’re smiling at them from under that mask. The eyes always tell.