What Kind of Mask Should I Wear?4 min read
It’s been an adjustment getting used to wearing masks while traveling, during holiday gatherings and in public places like the grocery store. But it’s clear that in order to protect those around us from getting sick, masks are here to stay. Thankfully, the variety of masks to choose from has expanded over the past few months.
If you’re struggling with your outdoor workouts because your mask fabric is too thick or you’re dealing with the discomfort of elastic tugging on your ears all day, there are more options for you to choose from. Here’s what to look for in a mask for every occasion.
If you’re a runner or like to do outdoor park workouts, you’ll want to have a mask handy in case you encounter other people who don’t live in your household. You may live in a place where it’s easy to keep a distance from others, but it’s always a good idea to have a mask with you when you leave your house, just in case!
You should look for a mask with a breathable, moisture-wicking fabric for outdoor workouts. A gaiter (Buff is a preferred brand for runners) is a perfect choice because you can wear it around your neck and pull it over your face when necessary, there are no strings to worry about getting untied and it’s comfortable enough to wear for a long period of time.
There are also many masks made by athletic companies like Adidas, Reebok and Under Armour, that are made specifically with breathable fabric and comfortable straps for working out.
It’s important to note that you should wash your mask after a workout every time. Masks that get wet or dirty shouldn’t be worn again until they are clean.
Going to the Beach
Just like outdoor workouts, going to the beach will require a lightweight, breathable mask fabric to keep you comfortable. While you may be able to keep your distance from others while sitting in one spot, you should keep a mask with you to use if you go for a walk or visit a boardwalk or shops during the day.
When looking for a mask to bring to the beach, try sticking to an athletic face mask or one made from 100% cotton. You can also make your own mask out of fabric that you find breathable, like from a cotton t-shirt or a race tech shirt.
Consider bringing multiple masks with you to the beach. If your mask gets wet or dirty, you should use a clean one right away.
Long Travel Days
If you have a flight of any length, it will require you to wear a mask for hours on end while you’re navigating airports, sitting on the plane and riding in a cab or on public transportation. You should make sure that the mask you choose for a day like this is comfortable to wear for a long period of time. You may also want to choose a mask that’s comfortable to sleep in if you have a long flight.
If ear loops are uncomfortable for you, choose a mask that ties behind your head instead. Or, if you already have masks with ear loops you can buy or make your own “ear savers” that mask loops will hook onto behind your head. Another option is to choose a mask that uses all fabric and no elastic, but be sure that it fits you correctly and doesn’t leave any gaps around your face. You can also wear a gaiter if it feels comfortable for you.
When you’re traveling especially, you should make sure that you wash or sanitize your hands before touching or removing your mask. Keep this in mind when you need to eat or drink, and make sure you have hand sanitizer handy in case you can’t get to a sink.
Crowded Public Places
If you’re going to an airport, farmers market or even just the grocery store, you want to make sure that your mask is keeping you and others around you safe. When around a group of people, you should make sure that your mask is not just comfortable and breathable, but also effective.
While you can buy or make a face mask with a filter, that won’t necessarily prevent you or others from contracting a virus. To see if your mask is effective, hold a flashlight or other light behind the mask. If the light mostly or completely shines through, you should consider adding another layer of fabric or a filter. Your mask should almost completely block out light in order to be effective.
You should also make sure that your mask fits well. It should be snug on your face, with no gaps. A bandana loosely tied around your face isn’t an effective mask, so make sure that if you’re making a mask at home you follow the CDC instructions.
The CDC has advised that masks are worn for the protection of others. If you’re worried about getting sick, it’s always better to stay home and avoid the risk altogether if possible. If you have symptoms or have been around anyone who has been recently sick, it’s especially important to wear a mask properly anytime you leave your house.