The coronavirus pandemic that occurred earlier this year has forced communities all over the globe to take extra precaution to protect themselves against Covid-19. Early on, the CDC released guidelines on frequent handwashing and staying indoors when there is no pressing reason to be out and about in public spaces. Many countries have placed their cities in quarantine, encouraging people to stay home except for essential errands like going to the pharmacy or grocery. Working from home has also become the norm for those who are fortunate to be able to carry out their jobs remotely. One of CDC’s guidelines in keeping safe from the coronavirus is to wear a cloth face mask. But why do we need to wear a face mask in our fight against the coronavirus? Here is your guide to different types of face masks for Covid-19 protection.
Covid-19 Protection: Why is it important to wear a face mask?
The new coronavirus that originated from Wuhan, China, or simply SARS-CoV-2 or Covid-19, is a virus that primarily attacks the respiratory system. The virus is mainly spread through respiratory droplets that come out of one’s nose or mouth as we breathe, speak, cough, sneeze, or blow our noses.
While the common symptoms of Covid-19 are a cough and fever, some people who are infected with the coronavirus are actually asymptomatic, which means they show no symptoms at all but are carriers of the virus and may infect the people around them. In fact, Medical News Today reports that according to a mathematical model from a 2020 study, about 40% to 80% of transmission of the coronavirus is from those who show no symptoms at all. This is why it is very important to wear a face mask. Face masks help limit the respiratory droplets that we expel whenever we breathe, speak, cough, or sneeze, reducing the risk of infecting others. It also keeps us from inhaling the respiratory droplets of others when we are out and about in public spaces. It’s highly important to wear a cloth face mask when in workplaces, grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals, during a commute, or anywhere it’s difficult to stay at least 6 feet away from the next person.
The CDC’s main recommendation for covering the nose and mouth is the cloth face mask. These are reusable, washable face masks that help limit the respiratory droplets we expel and help protect us from any droplets that may be in the air. But there are other face masks that one can use to protect against the coronavirus. Here is your guide to the different types of face masks for Covid-19 protection.
Different Types of Face Masks and When to Use Them
Especially designed for use by health care workers, respirators such as N95 respirators, N99 respirators, and N100 respirators are built to keep particles away. According to Healthline, these respirators are required to meet the filtration standards set by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). THe N95 respirators are designed to filter out 95% of particles that measure 100 to 300 nm, while N99 respirators are designed to filter out 99% of such particles. The N100 respirator filters out 99.7% of such particles. These masks have a rather snug fit on one’s face as to ensure that pathogens are filtered properly. If you are not a medical or health care worker, it is highly discouraged that you use respirators. These are some of the medical supplies that are prioritized for doctors, nurses, and health care workers and first responders who have to deal with Covid-19 patients on a daily basis.
Also designed for a prioritized for health care workers, surgical masks are a form of personal protective equipment (PPE) that fits quite comfortably and loosely around the nose and mouth. While these can protect against larger droplets, it cannot protect from the miniscule ones. These surgical masks must be used once and disposed of to avoid contamination. It is discouraged to wear them as they are also prioritized for frontliners and medical workers.
Copper face mask
Because some types of face masks have gone out of stock due to the overwhelming demand brought about the coronavirus pandemic, some producers are looking at alternative materials to help with Covid-19 protection. Copper has been proven to be a material that is antimicrobial, according to research. This is why some have looked to copper as a material for face masks. However, Good Housekeeping warns that there has been no study that proved the role of copper-enhanced fabric in neutralizing Covid-19. There is no study or evidence proving that copper face masks provide superior protection versus say, a cloth face mask. Nonetheless, people are looking to alternative ways to increase their Covid-19 protection through face masks.
Cloth face masks
For those of us who don’t work in the healthcare industry, it’s best to protect ourselves with cloth face masks. While it may not be as effective as medical-grade face masks that go through rigorous testing and have to meet global quality standards, reusable or washable cloth masks are a smart way to cover one’s nose and mouth while in public spaces. Such cloth face masks can be made out of cotton, silk, chiffon, flannel, and other cloth materials that can filter out large droplets. According to WebMD, “quilter’s cotton” is good to use as material for a cloth face mask as it “filters out a lot of particles, especially tight weaves with thicker threads, such as batik. Masks with cotton outer layers and flannel inner layers also work well.” If you prefer to add a filter, you can do so as well. Such filters can be coffee filters, paper towels, toilet paper, HEPA filters, and more. However, such HEPA filters do have tiny fibers that may get inside your lungs, so take caution in using those as filters.
1. Teelie Turner Easter Honey Bunny Love Mask
Just in time for summer, this sprightly non-medical face mask from Teelie Turner is made of two layers of soft 100% brushed polyester with sublimation print on the outside layer, showing off a totally adorable mother-and-daughter bunny duo. It’s perfect for those who want to show off their whimsical side and cheer up those who they encounter on the street. Each purchase of this mask also provides a donation to Heart to Heart International. Shop at RedBubble.
2. Tyler Creative Studio Liberty Print Cotton Face Masks
Add a floral flair to everyday street style with Tyler Creative Studio’s Liberty print cotton face masks. These are crafted using 100% Liberty Tana Lawn cotton fabrics that are washed at 60°C before use. These masks are double layered, breathable, washable and adjustable. It also features an insert panel in case you’d like to add a filter on it. It has soft elastic bands that are adjustable for the best fit. Shop at Etsy.
3. Knitted Crochet Things Handmade Cotton Face Mask
Keep yourself from touching your face with this cotton face mask from Knitted Crochet Things. It features a double layer and is made of 100% cotton. It’s light and breathable so it’s easy to wear for quick errands outside. Best washed by hand or machine delicate cycle. Shop at Etsy.
4. Teelie Turner Eliza The Easter Fairy Mask
Spread some magical cheer with the Eliza The Easter Fairy Mask from Teelie Turner. Based on characters from Teelie’s Fairy Garden, this whimsical face mask is made of two layers of soft 100% brushed polyester. On the outside is Eliza the Easter Fairy, greeting everyone with a smile. It features over-ear elastic straps for a snug fit over the mouth and nose. Great for daily use. A portion of the sales will go to Heart to Heart International. Shop at RedBubble.
5. La Femme Pink Sage Green Flowers Leave Watercolor Safety Cloth Face Mask
Add florals to your street style this summer with this cloth face mask featuring a pink sage green flowers design from La Femme. Its gorgeous print features hand-painted watercolor coral pink, medium pink, chestnut brown, golden yellow, and forest green flowers and leaves on top of a sage green background. Shop at Zazzle.
6. The Mad Plaider Rifle Paper Co Face Mask Citrus Floral in Mint
Those who are already familiar with the whimsical prints of Rifle Paper Company will love this face mask that features a cream cotton back. It also features two layers that you can opt to have with additional flannel. It has a pipe cleaner on the nose area for a better, more snug fit. Shop at Etsy.
7. Teelie Turner Easter Surprise Mask
Express yourself even when you can’t show your whole face with the charming Easter Surprise Mask from Teelie Turner. It’s timeless design is great for kids and kids at heart. It’s made of a pair of 100% brushed polyester layers that protect you from respiratory droplets. A portion of the proceeds will go to Heart to Heart International. Shop at RedBubble.
8. Printable Pretty Girly Peach and Pink Roses Watercolor Floral Cloth Face Mask
Upgrade your summer style with this charming face mask featuring watercolor flowers. With charming shades of pink and peach, this cloth face mask also features lush greens that are perfect for the season. Shop at Zazzle.
9. Sweet Birdie Studio Blush Pink Watercolor Flowers Sage Green Foliage Cloth Face Mask
Delicate flowers adorn this delicate cloth face mask that’s perfect for the summer season. Bring sunshine and blooms to those around you with this mask that lightens up the mood with its watercolor blush tones. Great for pairing with a white and khaki ensemble. Shop at Zazzle.
10. Teelie Turner Easter Carrots and Bunny Craze Mask
Relive the fun of Easter with this Teelie Turner mask that features cute florals. This non-medical face mask helps you express yourself when you can’t show your face. Give hope through your face mask! A portion of every purchase goes to Heart to Heart International. Shop at RedBubble.
Carbon face mask
There is another type of face mask that is reusable and can be used by regular folks who aren’t working in the healthcare industry. These are carbon face masks. According to Men’s Journal, carbon filter face masks “block out dust, pollen, and airborne germs, most are washable and have replaceable filters.” These masks come with replacement filters that help filter out such materials and may help with Covid-19 protection.
1. SPRINGSEAON Cotton Face Mask with Replaceable PM2.5 Activated Carbon Mask
With a five-layer activated carbon filter, this face mask is made of 100% Oeko-Tex cotton fabric and features a widened lastic earband and “M-shaped “nose clip can be adjusted at will for a comfortable fit. This pack includes one cotton mask, 2 adjustable rubber rings, and 4 activated carbon filters. Rated 4.2 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
Promising review: “These are well made, and the adjustable fit meant both myself and my husband were able to wear these comfortably. I’m more petite with a smaller head and my husband has a larger head (wears XL hats).” T. Fox
2. PAUFOGA Cloth Face Cover with Replaceable Activated Carbon Cover
Made from high quality polyester, this cloth face mask is skin-friendly, breathable, and comfortable to wear. It also includes 10 replaceable activated carbon filters that are made with 5 layers. Perfect for daily use and for pairing with any casual outfit. Shop at Amazon.
3. GLB Activated Carbon Filter Elements, 5-layer Replacement Filter
Delivered straight to you from Kansas, this face mask features a dual one-way exhalation valve that prevents fogging. It’s perfect for protecting your mouth and face from dust, haze, smoke, pollution, ash, pollen, and other pollutants or contaminants. Great for filtering out at least 95% of particulates larger than 0.3 microns in diameter. It features a 5-layer activated carbon filter and is made of non-woven fabric and meltblown cotton. Customers are raving about how it’s easy to breathe while wearing this mask and how it ships quickly. It is rated 4.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
Promising review: “Most of the mask I have worn lately could not breathe while wearing them. This one lets me breathe and it does not fog up my glasses. The item got here fast! The delivery date was showing in June and I’m very glad it got here sooner.” Tabitha Carlisle
4. PAUFOGA Soft Mouth Guard with Replaceable Activated Carbon Filters
Made with soft cotton, this ultra comfortable face mask features a 5-layer carbon filter for extra protection. It effectively protects against pollution, vehicle exhaust, sandy air, second hand smoke, and other pollutants. Comes with 6 extra carbon filters. Perfect for a quick run to the bank, pharmacy, or grocery. Shop at Amazon.
5. ZGMYC Adult Teens Cotton Mouth Cover with 10pcs Activated Carbon Inserts in Hot Pink
Made with soft, breathable cotton, these face masks come with an internal metal liner to form fit on the nose. It’s high quality cotton fabric is made for repeat washing. It features a back opening design that lets you insert the activated carbon filters, 10 of which are included in this purchase. Customers rated this 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
Promising review: “Very high quality and thoughtful design. Face part is comfortable and filter access is the best I’ve seen. It’s open on both sides so it is easy to adjust filter placement. And the ear elastics are adjustable! The material is soft and well tailored. Plus it comes with 10 filters, which would cost $5-$10 by themselves. Highly recommend!” LW Raboys
For more on Covid-19 protection and prevention, check out these stories from The Teelie Blog archive.
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