It does not matter whether you wear a mask from fabric materials, or surgical masks, what matters is what makes you comfortable. But I am going to share with you why I feel the surgeon masks (the masks that are worn in hospitals) are better to wear. Personally, I prefer the surgeon masks and I use the surgeon masks only. I wear the medical-grade and non-medical surgeon masks.
If you are designing and producing cloth masks, it is not a problem. They still work. But I don't believe most fabric materials are the healthiest to cover the mouth with.
I am going to share with you one specific reason. I was at the laundromat the other day, and these two nice ladies were carrying very large loads of laundry from their car to the laundry machines.
They were wearing cotton masks. They looked homemade, and they had a cute style to them, pretty prints. But one thing I noticed was that as I was watching them bring in their laundry I noticed they were breathing very hard underneath their masks, and the fabric clung to their face as soon as they inhaled, and when they exhaled the fabric pushed out. It looked similar to a person blowing air into a paper bag as they inhale and exhale. Yet, when people wear medical masks or surgeon masks, they can breathe very heavily, and the fabric material does not cling to the face when the breath is inhaled.
I am a fashion professional, so, why am I wearing a surgical mask?
As a "healthy fashion practitioner," I choose to wear the type of mask that has already been designed and developed to be worn on the face-- medical and non-medical surgeon masks. Cloth masks are a good idea, but there is no evidence of them being able to completely protect you while keeping you comfortable.
Cloth prevents the wearer from spreading germs, yet procedure masks and surgeon masks have been shown to prevent the wearer from catching germs in the air.
I think fabric masks can be a stylish accessory, and I am not against them, they are fun, but I am not wearing the mask for style. I am personally wearing the mask that is the most ergonomic as a mouth covering.
Well, it is proven that doctors around the world spend much time wearing medical masks, and they are not getting ill.
They are ergonomic, and it is made specifically to cover the mouth.
I am always in support of 100% plant-based materials. It seems odd that I would wear a 100% polypropylene mask. I have breathing issues in general, so, I wear the surgeon masks because they have been developed specifically to cover the mouth, and allow the body to breathe naturally.
I think the fabric masks are fun, I like to see all the different fabrics and styles, and if they don't bother your breathing, then you can and should wear them. I am not saying which masks you should wear, any mask is better than no mask.
Some people have health issues or breathing issues, and if you do, I recommend what the doctors and nurses wear. The spunbond nonwoven fabric the surgeon masks are made of is very thin and paper-like. They are also designed to keep the mouth area and the fabric dry. The wire on the top of the mask bends ergonomically. The fabric itself does not cling to the face when the breath is inhaled.
Surgical masks vs. fabric masks
Surgical masks can still be fashionable. Fashion designers have made masks made from polypropylene fiber and added colors and patterns to them. I like the fabric-- it is spunbond nonwoven, and it doesn't irritate my face. It is not the material used that I like, it is the way the fabric is designed. Also, they don't rip.
Many people aren't wearing procedure or surgeon masks because they are not fashionable. However, there are several fashion companies who are selling masks that are made with the same or similar materials as the medical-grade surgeon mask. Some companies have added textile patterns and colors to the spun-bond polypropylene fabric.
A few companies that are making fashionable masks with ergonomic material:
(They do not have to be medical-grade, they just need to have the same or similar type of fabric as procedure or surgeon masks. They are usually called disposable masks, however, they can be hand-washed and worn many times.)
If you choose to wear cloth masks, these are a few that I recommend:
Proper Cloth (linen)
Mate the Label (organic cotton jersey)
Shelljon (Organic bamboo/linen blend)
Why should I wear a surgical medical-grade or non-medical mask?
Safe and breathable.
allows more airflow
adjustable nose clip
comfortable ear loops
It is a non-woven fusible fabric. Most medical masks are made with polypropylene. It feels more like a paper/ cotton texture to me, against the skin. I don't like plastic, but the medical-grade and non-medical surgeon masks are very ergonomic, and they help me to breathe more naturally than fabric masks. It has a filtration property that allows the mask to stay dry. This is one thing I like about surgical masks.
The issues with some fabrics masks:
People have trouble breathing when wearing fabric masks
Fabric masks tend to get damp from the water in the exhalations of breath
Not breathable enough (many of them)
I have personally approached people that wear surgical masks vs. fabric masks. They say they can't really breathe in the fabric masks. They have also said that they are uncomfortable to wear. I tried wearing a cotton jersey mask that ties around the head-- and it was not comfortable. The fabric was very damp from my breath and wouldn't dry well.
A Need for Plant-Based Surgical Masks
There is a need to develop a plant-based fabric from plants that has the same properties as the spun-bond polypropylene. Some have made masks from abaca leaves. A company in France is producing a compostable canvas mask made from hemp. This could lead to the inspiration of a new mask type, that is medicinal. For example, masks made with natural medicinal plants and potentially infused with essential oils in the fabric like a medical treatment would be a great healthy mask.
I have not entirely researched therapeutic-type masks, yet I know there are a lot of companies trying to help people, but they aren't using a lot of the correct materials and ingredients. Some companies are selling polycarbonate face shields. Polycarbonate is not BPA free. Some masks are made with hard plastic, vinyl, PVC, neoprene. Many of these types of fabrics have been studied and tested, and contain carcinogenic chemicals.
We can't believe that just because a product is being sold, it is good for us. There are many fashion companies labeling their products a hazard and have cancer warning labels on their product tags.
For example, I have seen so many artificial scented masks, polyester nanotech masks (tiny nanofibers are being breathed in), and masks that are uncomfortable to wear. Silver ion fabrics with 16% silver, (but it hasn't been tested). It would be great to have a plant-based spun-bond material, a material similar to the bamboo and paper cleansing wet clothes. Many of these fabrics that cover the mouth have not been tested. Also, they have not been tested specifically for the safety of it covering the mouth.
There is a need for plant-based surgical masks (they are probably out there I have not looked into it enough, but they are not popular) a spunbond fabric made from plants, paper, cotton, etc. The surgical mask fabric has been developed specifically so that you can breathe naturally. They are ergonomic. Surgical masks- because of the was they are designed to keep the body dry could also be used as inspiration for plant-based surgical fabrics for the body too.