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What Kind of Face Mask Should I Wear?

What Kind of Face Mask Should You Wear?

Medical masks or fabric masks?

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 worn in the hospitals) are better to wear. Personally, I prefer surgeon masks and I use 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 women were carrying very large loads of laundry from their car to the laundry machines. They were wearing cotton masks.

Their cotton masks 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. The fabric clung to their face as soon as they inhaled, and when they exhaled the fabric pushed out. It looked like 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 and I wear predominantly 100% plant-based clothing, so, why am I wearing a synthetic-based surgical mask?

As a "healthy fashion practitioner," I choose to wear the type of mask that has already been designed and developed to cover the face and mouth-- 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.

Fabric masks are 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 and designed to cover the mouth.

  • Well, it is proven that doctors around the world spend much time wearing medical masks, and they are not getting ill.

  • They are ergonomic, designed 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 they 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 the masks the doctors and nurses wear. The spun-bond non-woven fabric surgeon masks are made of is very thin and paper-like. They are 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 spun-bond 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 that 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

(Masks do not have to be medical-grade, they just need to have the same or similar type of fabric as procedure masks 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:

Why should I wear a surgical medical-grade or non-medical mask?

They are:

  • safe and breathable

  • hypoallergenic

  • high filtration

  • allows more airflow

  • reduces humidity

  • adjustable nose clip

  • breathable layers

  • comfortable ear loops

Most medical masks are made with nonwoven-fusible polypropylene. It feels like a paper/cotton texture against the skin. I don't like plastic, but the medical-grade and non-medical surgeon masks are very ergonomic. 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, asking why they 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. Personally, I tried wearing a cotton jersey mask that ties around the head-- and it was not comfortable. My mouth and face were wet, and I could feel my own breath, and 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 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 researched therapeutic-type masks, and I know there are companies trying to help people, but they aren't using a lot of the correct materials and ingredients. For example, companies are selling polycarbonate face shields. Polycarbonate is not BPA-free. Some masks are made with hard plastic, vinyl, PVC, neoprene. These types of fabrics and materials have been studied and tested containing 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 nano-fibers and nano-molecules are being breathed in). Many masks 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 spun-bond fabric made from plants, paper, cotton, etc. The surgical mask fabric was developed and designed to let the mouth breathe naturally. They are ergonomic. Surgical masks- because they are designed to keep the body dry, this could also be used as inspiration for new plant-based surgical fabrics for the face and body too.


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