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Face masks for Travel

For the mature solo traveller and couples joining one of our small group tours whether in Australia, New Zealand, or Europe, face masks will be part of your wardrobe as you travel. This article help you understand the differences in face masks available and how to choose one suitable for you.

31 Jul 21 · 22 mins read

Face Masks for travel

Getty Images has almost 700 pages of images for face masks…. there are 31 pages of images for the Sydney Opera House, an iconic building which is some 50 years old.

As a traveller I first noticed face masks in the heavily polluted cities of China and the public and private metro system of Japan. I accepted without question that this was a cultural difference in a polite health conscious society protecting each other from the spread of seasonal cold and flu. Decades on a face mask since 2020 is now part of every day life. It may not be part of everyday life forever, but a disposable mask and hand sanitizer are the foundations for being safe when you travel for the foreseeable future.

As we return to domestic and International travel protecting ourselves and showing respect for others in managing ourselves with fellow travellers whether a passenger on a long haul flight or taking short domestic flights between cities, the face mask is with us for a few more years as the community learns how vaccinations manages the impacts of Covid-19 on the communities we live within temporarily or permanent.

This article based on a piece in the New York Times looks at what you should consider when choosing face masks for travel as a response to the Covid 19 pandemic of the 2020s.

Odyssey Traveller offers some 350 small group tours all around the world for like minded mature solo and couples interested in discovering more about the world. Odyssey since 1983 has always only offered small group travel of up to 14 people t. In the post pandemic travel environment our commitment to the senior travel community remains the same, small group tours 8-14 people. Ensuring our travellers are healthy and safe when they travel with us is important to us as a responsible travel company. This article is part of a series of travel tip articles Odyssey Traveller posts to the website.

When to wear a mask is another article you maybe interested in reading.

Travel and using a face masks

You may find yourself reaching for a mask less often now that vaccines are widely available.

But if you are taking a flight or joining a small group tour face masks for travel should form part of your luggage when begining to pack. Collectively being a responsible traveller goes beyond considerations of your carbon footprint choices and the challenges of over-tourism. Being aware and having empathy on the mask requirement, social distancing and travel restrictions in place or required to avoid the risk of mandatory quarantine when travelling are part Odyssey’s and your responsibilities to your fellow travellers.

But masks will likely remain useful-if not required-for certain situations, depending on the mask mandate set , and the business practices for a passenger of the airline selected for air travel, and local circumstances regarding COVID-19 transmission and vaccination rates. From the Covid 19 pandemic an entire business has emerged in a 2 year window for face masks and conversations will include questions such as how do like the n95 respirator? Which do you think is better the n95 mask or the kn95 mask in Scotland? Fortunately, in contrast with early on in the pandemic, you now have many high-quality masks to choose from. Between disposable respirators and comfortable, reusable cloth masks that filter nearly as well as medical-grade masks-and can be adjusted for a more-secure fit-just about everyone can find something they feel good wearing. This article reviews and comments on cloth options, that is reusable mask as face masks for travel for seniors that balance fit and comfort with filtration efficiency and breathability rather than the disposable mask option.

The New York Times (NYT) article consulted with fashion designers, textile experts, aerosol scientists and infectious-disease specialists, to zero in on the small but crucial design details that have an outsize impact on how a mask fits and feels, and-by extension-how it helps reduce person-to-person viral transmission. The NYT also commissioned independent lab tests to assess the filtration efficiency and breathability of a variety of cloth masks and filters, including our picks.

The NYT report how well a specific mask works for any given individual involves myriad factors (the size of a person’s head and facial features, their behaviours, and the environment), that they couldn’t identify the most effective mask for every person and every situation. However, based on extensive reporting, real-world fit and comfort testing, and scientific filtration-efficiency and breathability testing, we have a few recommendations on what to consider when selecting a face mask. Our picks are adjustable in multiple ways and, when worn properly, can filter airborne particles better than most cloth masks, while still being easy enough to breathe through. All have pockets for an additional filter layer and can also be worn over a surgical-type mask. (For more information on N95 and KN95 respirators and surgical masks, see below. We have some preliminary recommendations for those, too.)

It is evident that the best cloth face mask or mask for you to meet the face mask requirement when you travel is the one you’ll wear and not fuss with. Odyssey has sought to provide a range of options to help make that happen for you before you take your first flight.

Understandably, people including travelers want a mask that;

  • fits like a glove
  • traps all incoming and outgoing viruses,
  • lets you gulp in fresh air with abandon,
  • and feels as if it isn’t even there.

Unfortunately, that mask doesn’t exist. Selecting a cloth face mask is an exercise in compromises. Generally speaking, the better a mask blocks respiratory droplets, the harder it feels to breathe through, said Bryan Ormond, an assistant professor of textile engineering at North Carolina State University’s Textile Protection and Comfort Center. Conversely, the easier it is to breathe through a mask, the less potentially protective it is.

The most important thing a non-medical mask can do is align closely to the curves of your face, cover your nose and mouth, and feel comfortable enough that you won’t fuss with it as you go about your day.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the latest research on cloth face coverings, help you build a collection of masks that suit your various needs, tell you how to improve upon the masks you already have with a few inexpensive accessories, and explain how prioritizing fit and comfort can lead to better protection-for others and for yourself.

Generally speaking, the better a mask blocks respiratory droplets, the harder it feels to breathe through.

The masks experts told us they look for when shopping for themselves, and that we found greatly impact fit and comfort. These features include;

  • moldable nose-bridge wires;
  • cord stoppers,
  • adjustable headbands, or ties;
  • and filter pockets.

In addition, we commissioned an academic research lab to test all our top-tier picks, so we are also confident that they each offer a decent baseline level of protection (assuming an airtight seal around the nose and mouth), balanced with a reasonable degree of breathability.

General advice to senior travellers on choosing a mask

Ideally staying at least 6 feet apart from others is the best way to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. But as more people get vaccinated, and domestic and International travel recommences wearing a mask when you’re taking public transport including uber and taxis or waiting at the airport for your flight or in Paris, queuing to visit a gallery or museum The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says vaccinated people should continue wearing masks whenever indoors in public and while in outdoor areas in crowds.

By acting as physical barriers, cloth face coverings can help prevent wearers from transmitting respiratory droplets to the people around them. That goes for everyone, not just people who know or suspect they’re sick, because as a June 2020 review points out, as many as 45% of people infected with the coronavirus might not show any symptoms. Masks can also help filter incoming particles-including small ones, called aerosols-from other people, thereby protecting the wearer, too. As a CDC scientific brief indicates, when everyone wears masks, infection rates decrease significantly.

Wearing a mask isn’t an excuse to ignore social distancing, just as wearing a seatbelt doesn’t justify reckless driving. cloth face masks “are the last line of defense in the hierarchy of controls,” said Ormond, the textile engineer at North Carolina State University. “So, while you are wearing a mask, you still need to social distance and practice good hygiene (handwashing).

Scientists are still determining what materials and construction, exactly, make for the most protective cloth or a fabric mask for the face. But past and current findings, plus common sense, can provide clues. As Raina MacIntyre, head of the Biosecurity Program at the University of New South Wales’s Kirby Institute, explained: “In the absence of randomized controlled studies for SARS CoV-2, you have to look at principles that have been found by clinical effectiveness and lab studies, put it all together, and make sensible recommendations.”

How cloth face masks compare to N95 respirator, KN95 mask, and surgical mask

Most cloth face masks are nowhere near as protective against virus-size particles as a properly fitted N95 respirator, which front-line health-care workers rely on in order to safely care for their patients. A N95 mask is specifically constructed to block the inhalation of particles, including virus-size particles.

Different face masks and respirator on blue background. Protection against virus.

A N95 mask should fit the curves of your face without gaping, and they’re fabricated from special material that filters out at least 95% of airborne matter the size of 0.3 micron. An N95 respirator mask‘s fibers are electrostatic and nonwoven (haphazardly arranged), which makes it harder for particles to penetrate. Some N95 masks, including Wirecutter’s picks in our guide to respirators, include valves for easier exhalation. That feature can be great during wildfire smoke conditions. But as the World Health Organization explained to us in an email, when the focus is preventing the spread of the coronavirus, such valves are problematic because by design they can let unfiltered air escape, meaning covid 19 virus can be spread.

A KN95 mask (which the US Food and Drug Administration refers to as “filtering facepiece respirators”) are manufactured in China according to Chinese standards, which vary slightly from US standards (most KN95 masks have ear loops instead of headbands, for instance). Like a N95 mask, KN95 masks are required to filter out at least 95% of airborne droplets the size of 0.3 micron.

Unlike respirators, surgical disposable mask is not meant to create an airtight fit, so droplets can sneak through gaps around the cheeks. But the material itself, consisting of nonwoven layers, typically filters more and smaller particles than most cloth masks, and could potentially be more protective-if only the mask could be worn snug to the face.

The “surgical-style” masks you see online and in many stores are probably not professional-grade surgical masks. They’re just pleated face masks made from layers of various nonwoven materials.

What’s more, many mask makers aren’t even selling a true surgical mask at retail; for instance, 3M told us it’s distributing surgical mask(s) for use by only front-line and essential workers and some industrial workers. That’s not to say surgical-style face masks can’t be helpful, but exactly how protective they are remains unclear, absent any regulation. As we’ll explain in more detail below, an extra layer can’t hurt (unless the layer makes it so hard to breathe that you take off the mask), and nonwoven materials such as the polypropylene layers in surgical and (presumably) surgical-style masks can bolster protection against outgoing and incoming particles. So instead of using a filter in your well-fitting cloth face mask, wearing a surgical-style mask underneath it is another way to layer up and double mask. The two work in tandem: When wearing multiple masks, a good cloth face mask can enhance a surgical-style face mask‘s seal, while a surgical-style facemask can bolster the cloth face mask‘s protection factor. If worried then a double mask combination can be expected to enhance your protection in the covid 19 pandemic.

What to consider when buying a cloth face mask

The basic tenets of using a face covering are fairly straightforward. “You want the mask to go over your nostrils and your mouth in such a way that it doesn’t slip off,” said Robin Patel, past president of the American Society for Microbiology. Even a bandana tied around your head is better than nothing. But if you’re indoors with strangers or in a crowd in outdoor areas and you want to maximize the potential protection to others and yourself, you might as well choose something more substantial.

When you cough without a mask on, aerosols fly out of your mouth as far as about 8 feet on average, according to a June 2020 study. Tie on that bandana, and outgoing aerosols get only as far as 3 feet 7 inches on average, the authors found. Wear a well-fitted two-layer quilting-cotton mask, and those airborne particles, on average, stop short at a mere 55mm (2½ inches).

Although it’s true that some masks filter much better than others, a mask won’t help if it’s constantly slipping down your nose or it feels so suffocating that you’re forced to take it off. To find the best mask for you, focus on fit and comfort, and protection should follow (assuming you wear it properly, of course, and also practice social distancing and use hand sanitizer ensuring good hand hygiene whenever possible).

Fit: Creating a protective seal

For a fitted face mask to work to its fullest potential, it has to fit. “When there are large gaps for the airborne particles or droplets to come out, it doesn’t matter how good the filter is or how many layers you have,” said Linsey Marr, an aerosol scientist at Virginia Tech. As research at Northeastern University suggests, a mask that conforms closely to the face can enhance performance by as much as 50% over the same mask that doesn’t.

A properly fitting mask extends vertically from the bridge of your nose (just below the eye line) to about an inch under your chin, and it stretches horizontally from cheek to cheek, or even better, as close to your ears as comfortable.

Here’s what to do to make sure that happens:

Study the sizing chart.

Masks are typically non-refundable; to ensure a reasonable fit, note a mask‘s dimensions and then measure your face, including the centimetres added by any facial hair and the height of your nose, with a soft tape measure to confirm that the numbers correspond. (Some brands provide face measurements as opposed to maskmeasurements.) Note, too, that a pleated mask expands when you adjust it to cover your face. For instance, the height of the Rendall Co. Sentry mask we like is 75mm pleated and 175mm expanded. When in doubt, ask customer service for detailed dimensions. If a mask is too short, it won’t stay put on your nose or chin. If it’s too tall, the edges can block your vision, poke your eyes, or hang too loose around your chin, said Jun. Too-wide masks can affect how the elastic fasteners fit around your ears or head. If your measurements fall in between designated sizes, size up and adjust the fasteners as needed, or better yet, look for another mask.

Don’t fall for “one size fits all.”

That one size might not fit you. For example, the one-size-fits-all Banana Republic mask we like is 150mm tall by 210mm wide, whereas the one-size-fits-all Hedley & Bennett mask is 175mm high by 225mm wide. Among masks that come in multiple size options, not all size designations are created equal. “Even 10mm can make a difference,” said Jun, especially if you have a wider or thinner face, a longer chin, or a higher nose bridge.

A properly fitting mask extends vertically from the bridge of the nose (just below the eye line) to about an inch under the chin, and it stretches horizontally from cheek to cheek, or even better, as close to the ears as comfortable.

Look for a nose-bridge wire.

A mask should gently hug the lines of your cheeks, dip along the sides of your nose, and curve over its bridge. A moldable wire helps a mask do that. Without that close fit, droplets can sneak in and out along the sides of your nose.

Consider the mask‘s shape.

Cone silhouettes are likely to curve to the cheeks better than a plain piece of cloth that lies flat or a rectangular mask with pleats does. That’s probably why the Northeastern University researchers have found that nylon-stocking seals often make less of a performance difference when layered over cone-shaped masks than when layered over masks of other shapes (though exactly how much of a difference may vary for different people; only one person took part in the study). “The fit was already good,” said study co-author Loretta Fernandez, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northeastern. Cone-shape masks have vertical seams that allow the fabric to “tent up,” giving it some height like a bra cup. Depending on the placement of the straps, cone-shaped masks can fit quite nicely on the cheeks.

However, masks with pleats provide more leeway for higher nose bridges, said Michael Kaye, who teaches draping and sewing as an adjunct professor at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. Compared with less generously cut cone masks, pleated masks may also feel more comfortable to some people because they allow for space between the fabric and your cheeks. (Read further for tips on improving the seal.)

Check for adjustable fasteners.

A too-snug fit, one that leaves marks on your skin, may tempt you to take the mask off. For a secure fit, adjust any back-of-the-head elastic bands by either tying a knot or placing the band atop a ponytail. (Adjustments to the top band are especially crucial for helping the mask fit snugly around your cheeks.) Elastic ear loops with cord stops allow for a customizable fit. If you consistently find headband and ear-loop fasteners to be too tight, or if they get in the way of hearing aids, consider ties (as on the Rendall Co. mask we like); the drawback is that ties tend to loosen more easily over the course of the day.

Examine the fastener texture.

Headbands with ridges can grip hair better without sliding, especially if your hair is straight, said Kaye. Ear loops made with elastic cords hang more easily on less-rigid ears but may make your ears feel sore after a few hours, especially if they’re too tight.

Pleated masks are designed to accommodate different nose-bridge heights and chin depths.

Comfort: Balancing breathability with filtration

Just the idea of something obstructing your nose and mouth can be distressing-hence the appeal of lightweight, single-layer masks made of more breathable fabric. But if your goal is to protect yourself as well as others, a well-fitting maskthat balances breathability with filtration efficiency (the percentage of particles that a mask can block) works best, assuming you keep it on.

Protecting others is relatively easy: Almost any cloth can halt the larger-than-5-microns globules shooting from your mouth when you’re talking loudly, singing, coughing, or sneezing. But it’s snagging the 1-micron or smaller particles-which can come from you or others breathing and talking at regular volume-that’s tough.

Early in the pandemic, health officials considered those tiny aerosols to be less worrisome, but now, more than a year later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared quite the opposite: “COVID-19 spreads when an infected person breathes out droplets and very small particles that contain the virus. These droplets and particles can be breathed in by other people or land on their eyes, noses, or mouth.”

In October 2020, the CDC reported that it’s possible to be infected in a poorly ventilated indoor space by a person more than 2 metres away or even shortly after an infected person has left the room. The agency also noted that timing matters, too: You’re more vulnerable to infection the longer you share air space with an infected person. Specifically, spending more than a cumulative 15 minutes over the course of 24 hours with an infected person constitutes “close contact.” (Independent experts have disputed the rationale behind both the 2-metres-of-distance and 15-cumulative-minutes-of-exposure guidelines, stating that even though the new guidelines are an improvement, droplets can infect others well over 2 metres away, depending on the ventilation, and this can happen in fewer than 15 total minutes.)

In February 2021, ASTM International (formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials) approved a new standard for barrier face coverings in terms of filtration and breathability, and also fit. The 16-page set of guidelines (you can access the new standard, known as designation F3502, here, with free registration) details the necessary design and testing considerations required, much of which we discuss in this guide. However, because ASTM International doesn’t certify or validate a product as meeting these criteria-it simply created them-it’s up to manufacturers to follow through, and government agencies to mandate the standard. Some mask makers may decide to attain these specifications; some may not. Those that do would be able to state clearly on their packaging specific breathability and filtration values that can help shoppers make an informed decision (assuming the labeling is truthful).

As CDC/NIOSH health communication specialist Nura Sadeghpour explained in December 2020, “products that don’t meet the standard may still have some utility, but won’t be able to claim that they meet the ASTM requirements, which provide a baseline for performance.”

In the meantime, many unknowns remain, including how much of the virus a person must inhale to cause an infection, said Sarah Brooks, director of the Center for Atmospheric Chemistry and the Environment at Texas A&M University. What’s more, no mask is guaranteed to provide complete protection. If you’re struggling to leave a mask on, play around with different materials. “You need to balance comfort and risk,” said Virginia Tech aerosol scientist Linsey Marr. To that end, consider the features below.

Tight weaves:

Your mask is like a chain-link fence. “The more thread in a given area, the more solid the barrier, the harder it is to get through,” explained North Carolina State University textile scientist Bryan Ormond. As the aforementioned April 2020 study suggests, thread count (the number of vertical and horizontal threads in a square inch) matters. With droplets smaller than 0.3 micron at low flow (similar to what happens with breathing), a two-ply 80-thread-count quilting cotton exhibited far less filtration efficiency than a two-ply 600-thread-count pillowcase-like material. Unfortunately, few mask makers provide thread-count information online, and you’re left with taking their word for how “sturdy” or “tightly woven” the materials they’re using are. So before you buy, make sure your mask at least has multiple layers (read on), preferably with a filter pocket (see below). When the mask arrives, hold it up to the light. “The more visible openings you see in the fabric structure, the less effective the material may be at filtering particles,” Ormond said. To bolster a mask made with loosely woven fabric, add more layers in the filter pocket so as to block more of the light coming through (but not so much that the mask feels suffocating). Alternatively, you can wear a mask made with nonwoven materials underneath a cloth mask.

Multiple layers:

According to a June 2020 meta review, multilayer masks, or a double mask are more protective than a single-layer mask, and specifically “12-16-layer cotton masks” are associated with protection. A more realistic goal, experts say, is to aim for a minimum of two layers: a somewhat water-resistant outer layer and a comfortable inner layer. A pocket for an additional middle layer, or filter, can be useful for higher-risk situations. “The mask is like an obstacle course for the virus to get through. Each layer can make a difference,” said Amy Price, a senior research scientist at Stanford’s Anesthesia Informatics and Media Lab.

Generous cut:

This is the rare feature that enhances both breathability and filtration. By “generous,” we don’t mean a mask that’s too big for you. It should be a well-fitting mask that’s intentionally designed with a larger surface area so that it stands “taller” on your face (to allot more space between the fabric and your nose), wider on your face (with each side stretching closer to each ear), or ideally both. This way “you have more air coming through the cloth, and that air is filtered, as opposed to air sneaking in from the sides,” said Supratik Guha, a professor at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, who co-authored the April 2020 study on mask materials. A simply cut flat mask creates the opposite situation: It sits close to your nose and mouth, so you have less filtered air to breathe in at any given time.

Filter pocket or incorporated filter:

Some masks, including those we like best, have at least two layers of cloth and a pocket that allows you to bolster your mask with an additional layer or two of your choice, whether it’s another piece of cloth or a sheet of nonwoven material. Of course, you can also leave it empty-wearing the mask as is or strapped over a surgical-style mask.

Nonwoven materials consist of fibers spun into a random web that is then heated to form a sheet. Slipped in between two or more fabric layers (either placed in a pocket or sewn in), the nonwoven material complicates the existing maze a virus needs to get through before it can reach your nose and mouth-creating “a tortuous pathway,” said Mark Losego, an associate professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering at Georgia Tech.

There are almost as many nonwoven options being studied as cloth-face–mask filters as there are masks. Stanford’s Amy Price, who co-authored a June 2020 paper on the filtration efficiency of household materials, said that the polypropylene crafting material Oly-Fun can increase particle filtration efficiency by 10% to 20% per layer. This occurs with the help of electrical charging-rubbing it with a rubber glove-which makes that viral obstacle course even more challenging, at least for 24 hours, unless conditions are extremely humid, Price said. Paper towels and tissues can increase filtering capacity by 5% to 10% per layer (again, with electrical charging).

A Texas A&M University paper currently under review (here’s the preprint) notes that non-fiberglass premium anti-allergen air filters-which, like Oly-Fun, also consist of polypropylene-seem promising. Some cloth-mask makers, such as Kitsbow, include their own removable nonwoven filter layers with their masks, along with the option to buy refills.

Slipped in between two or more fabric layers, a nonwoven material complicates the existing maze a virus needs to get through before it can reach your nose and mouth.

View any specific filtration claims with a healthy dose of skepticism-some of the masks tested by the NYT in the lab fell shy of their claims. Washing a filter-incorporated mask weakens the filter over time, too. If you’re stuffing a mask pocket, try to find a filter that covers the entire expanse of the mask and stays put. Otherwise, you’re not taking advantage of the filter’s fullest potential-droplets tend to sneak through portions of a mask with the least resistance.

Selecting a mask or building your mask wardrobe.

Over the course of the NYT researching and reporting many experts they talked to described the face mask marketplace as the “Wild West.” Although updated CDC guidelines and the new ASTM International standards have created a clearer picture of what a good non-medical mask should look like, it’s hard for shoppers to know whether any one mask will fit on their face, much less provide sufficient filtration.

So we started with the basics: fit and comfort. Since people’s faces and preferences are different, your mask should have a nose-bridge wire and some way to fine-tune the fasteners. Consider also a mask with a filter pocket or a sewn-in filter. A fabric mask that is a machine-washable design should also a primary choice.

Consider a mask wardrobe

With the face mask requirement for travel being the new normal for some time, you’ll likely want to have a few reusable mask(s) on hand. That way, you’ll always have a backup at the ready, as well as some leeway if you don’t get to the laundry as planned.

If you find a reusable mask you love, buying multiples of that style may be best. You may also consider collecting a handful of different styles, each of which is more or less practical for different situations. The fitted face mask you might choose to wear for a trip to the grocery store, for example, isn’t necessarily the same face masks for travel you’d reach for each day.

Colourful corona masks in the garden hung up on a leash
Keep your masks accessible.

Store them in a small soft bag in your luggage or on hooks near the door so you’re less likely to rush out without one. If you’re using filters in a mask pocket, have them at the ready, too. A disposable mask or multiple masks in your back pack or hand bag is a good idea given current travel restrictions.

Stash a spare or two in your Backpack

This way, if the one you’re wearing gets dirty or wet, you’ll have another handy. “Viruses thrive when in wet, warm materials,” said the Kirby Institute’s Raina MacIntyre. “A wet mask becomes an incubator. Take the fitted face mask off immediately without touching the face piece and put on a new one.” and of course if in outdorr ares or say at the airpot then remember to use hand sanitizer to be sure. Disposable face masks to share with your travel companion maybe the perfect gift for sharing when travelling in a group or when on a long haul flight on a plane, simply to keep things fresh.

Gather a range of materials and mask shapes.

Be realistic about what you’ll be willing to wear in different situations. Try a new-to-you mask on at home so that you can evaluate the fit and your comfort before wearing it in public. If you can buy more than one mask type, consider choosing one for rainy days, with a top layer treated in such a way as to prevent droplets from soaking in. No masks are waterproof, so you’ll need to change your mask if it does start pouring with rain.

Include a mix of fasteners.

Ear loops tend to be easy to put on and take off, which is ideal for running impromptu errands and dining outside. For longer-term wear, you may want a mask with ties or headbands, which put less pressure on your ears.

How to improve a mask you already own (plus, mask accessories we like)

Typically, worn masks are non-refundable and difficult to donate. But depending on the issue, you might be able to improve matters and keep the problem mask in your rotation. Here are some suggestions:

If a pleated mask gapes around your cheeks:

This problem is common-most people don’t have a rectangular face. If the mask‘s bands don’t help seal off the sides, try adding a chain of three rubber bands, as this clever technique demonstrates. This folding trick (video) was devised for disposable surgical-type masks but may help cloth ones, too, especially if you stitch the creases in place. The Fix The Mask site offers a downloadable template for making a mask brace out of a rubber sheet and also sells premade ones.

If the mask is too big:

If its ear loops are thin enough, tie knots near the ends or add an appropriately sized cord-lock toggle. If the fasteners are too thick, secure a small piece of yarn or string as close to the ends of each loop as appropriate. You can also thread a strap of Velcro through the two ear loops so the mask attaches at the back of your head.

If the ear-loop elastics hurt your ears or interfere with hearing aids or headphones: After you’ve worn ear loops for a few hours, that pressure can be painful. You can try “ear savers,” but the Velcro trick works for this purpose, too.

If the mask doesn’t seal around your nose bridge:

You can upgrade wire-free cloth masks by sewing in your own aluminum strips. Supermarket twist ties can work, too, said Juan Hinestroza, an associate professor of fiber science at Cornell University.

The Best Anti-Fog for Glasses and a Mask

A loose-fitting mask can lead to foggy glasses. If you don’t want to tape the top of your mask to your face, anti-fog drops might help. (So might soap or spit.)

If the mask fabric gets up in your nose or mouth when you breathe:

Mask brackets tent the fabric up over your nose and mouth and maintain the space even as you inhale. Take note, though, that these work only with generously cut masks, which maintain a good seal even as the central portion is propped up.

Care and maintenance of your Face mask when on Vacation.

Like trusty T-shirts, the best masks are machine washable so they’re quickly cleaned and back in the rotation. If you don’t have a machine, or if the mask manufacturer advises otherwise, hand washing the mask is okay, too.

No need to use hot water: Heat can shrink some natural fabrics, and it can also hasten wear and tear over time, particularly for synthetic materials.

  • Always wash a new mask before wearing it for the first time.
  • Wash your hands after touching a worn mask and before touching anything else.
  • Wash your mask according to the label. (If you’ve used a polypropylene or paper filter, remove that piece first and throw it out immediately or follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.) You can wash your mask with the rest of your clothing. In general, any laundry detergent will do, even soap. The coronavirus is easily broken down with soap and water whether it’s on your hands or a mask. “The virus is essentially genetic material wrapped up in a shell of lipids and proteins. Soap literally dissolves it away and makes it disintegrate,” said Hana Akselrod, an infectious disease physician at George Washington University. No need to use hot water, warm water is adequate (though for some masks, a cold wash is preferable-again, check the manufacturer’s instructions).
  • Depending on the manufacturer’s instructions, you can dry your cloth mask in the dryer or allow it to air dry. Remember, though, that heat accelerates breakdown, particularly with elastics, said Michael Kaye of FIT. Either way, make sure the mask is completely dry before you wear it again. If you decide to iron your mask, avoid ironing the elastics.
  • Predicting the durability of different mask fabrics is “challenging,” Hinestroza said. It depends on not only the frequency at which they are worn and washed but also the humidity levels between your nose and mouth and the mask. “I do not have exact data,” he said, “but my feeling is that the wearer will be tired of using a particular mask faster than the mask becoming unusable.”

For further reading and updates to this article published by the New York Times follow this link.

FAQs about Masks when travellling

Do I need to buy a mask?

You probably already own materials that you can fashion into a mask, no sewing required. The New York Times has a video tutorial.

What is double masking?

With growing concerns over more-contagious coronavirus variants, more people are double masking-that is, wearing a surgical-style mask underneath a cloth face mask. A surgical-style mask offers great filtration, while a good cloth facemask can be adjusted to secure a good fit. The two masks work in tandem to maximize both fit and filtration overall. In fact, a CDC study on two dummy heads concluded that when both dummies were double masked with a surgical-style mask and a well-fitting cloth face mask over it, the transmission of potentially infectious aerosols was reduced by around 95%. (The study also found that people can achieve similar effects by wearing just a legitimate surgical mask but knotting its ear loops and tucking in its sides as shown in this video.)

What about Buffs, neck gaiters, and face shields?

Neck gaiters, gained sudden notoriety in early August 2020 when headlines declared that wearing them was worse than wearing no mask at all. Lost in the conversation, however, was the fact that gaiters come in different materials and can be worn in different ways, which results in different degrees of protection against the release of droplets depending on how the results are measured. A Duke University study, which unintentionally sparked the ruckus, looked at one layer of a particular polyester-spandex design using a novel contraption (the actual topic of the paper). When the researchers analyzed the spray emerging from the gaiter wearer’s mouth, the threads, as the team hypothesized, seemed to have broken up the larger droplets into smaller ones, potentially making them more easily inhaled by people around the wearer. However, other researchers, using more-conventional experimental approaches, have found that gaiters-especially when worn doubled over (as explained in this non-peer-reviewed preprint PDF) or, even better, with the addition of a paper towel (as described in a non-peer proof-of-concept study)-can be quite protective. As with regular cloth face masks, the key is to create multiple layers and a good seal.

One disadvantage of wearing a gaiter is that removing it can be tricky. To do so without potentially contaminating yourself, slip your hands inside at the bottom edge so that you can use the back of your hands to stretch the fabric in opposite directions and lift the garment over and off your head. Wash your hands afterward.

A face shield can protect your eyes and block big droplets from direct-to-the-face coughs and sneezes. Whether it blocks smaller droplets is a point of controversy. It doesn’t seal off the lower part of your face, after all, so theoretically droplets can drift in and out from under the shield. The CDC does not advise using shields in place of masks, nor do many doctors.

However, as several experts pointed out in May, shields have some advantages over masks in particular situations, and certainly they provide added benefits when people wear them in addition to masks. Face shields may also be useful as extra protection for those who are wearing a cloth mask in other close-range situations.

How do I prevent maskne (and related skin concerns)?

Some fabrics may chap lips. To mitigate lip irritation, before donning a mask, slick petroleum jelly onto your lips-it’s better at staying put and sealing in moisture than lip balms, said Philadelphia dermatologist Carrie Kovarik.

How do I reduce glasses fogging with a face mask?

Choosing a well-fitting mask, ideally with a moldable nose-bridge wire, should help alleviate the common problem of glasses or other eyewear fogging when your nose and mouth are covered with cloth. The most effective way to reduce fogging when you’re wearing a mask is to create a better seal between the top of the mask and your skin, leaving less room for air to escape your mask and reach your glasses.

What if I have a respiratory condition or other disability that precludes wearing a conventional cloth mask?

Various respiratory-medicine groups issued a statement on this very concern. They suggest working with your doctor to find a solution that works for your situation. For instance, even if a face shield isn’t as effective as cloth face masks, wearing one is better than wearing nothing at all.

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