Mask mandates have been dropped in offices, grocery stores, and transit hubs nationwide, and as a result many people have (understandably) stopped wearing them. After living through two years of a pandemic, folks are tired of muffled voices, sweaty faces, and fogged-up lenses.
There’s been some debate surrounding masks’ effectiveness in preventing COVID-19 infection — particularly at the start of the pandemic — but laboratory studies show that masks protect those who wear them.
If you’re among those still masking up, you’re likely looking for solutions to make masking more comfortable — especially during the warm summer months. Here are five easy tricks to make wearing yours more tolerable.
Ease the Strain of Mask Strings
When you’re wearing a mask all day, the ear loops may begin to put a strain on the backs of your ears. Your tender ears will thank you for purchasing some mask clips. There are several options availble, from simple straps with buttons or hooks to silicone and rope accessories.
We like this Candace Cort ear saver, which is clear, bendy, and subtle. Mask extenders can also help you to customize your mask fit (if you, like me, have a head that’s far smaller than average). Try this silicone mask extender set from EVGLOW that comes in a variety of colors ($6.99 from Amazon).
De-Fog Your Glasses
If you’ve ever worn glasses and a mask simultaneously, you know the foggy lens struggle. This problem can range from a mere nuisance to an actual hazard — if you can’t see where you’re going, it doesn’t matter how protected you are from COVID-19. The most effective way to reduce fogging while masking is to improve the seal between the top of the mask and your skin. Masks with adjustable nose-bridge wires (which tend to be the best quality masks anyway, most adept at virus protection) make it easier to close off this seal.
If you have a well-fitting mask that’s sealed off at the nose but are still experiencing lens fog, try Ultra Clarifty’s Defog kit ($15.99 from Amazon). It’s compatible with many different types of lenses; just be warned that it does require frequent reapplication, and you might want to keep a small microfiber cloth on hand to scrub away any vision-blurring streaks.
Make Your Mask Smell Nicer
We’ve all become intimately familiar with the smell of our own breath over the last two years. Even when you’re certain of your minty-freshness, there’s something about “mask breath” that’s just… unpleasant. To fix this, spritz a nice-smelling refreshing spray in your mask before heading out the door.
Enfusia’s mask deodorizer spray ($19.99 from Amazon) is made with pure essential oils — a blend of eucalyptus, spearmint, peppermint, rosemary, lavender, and tea tree. The scent is sure to relax you throughout the day; and even if it doesn’t, it’s probably better than smelling your breakfast.
Buy a Cute Necklace Chain
If you’re like most of us, you periodically take your mask off for a breather and then put it back on when needed. But it’s annoying to search frantically for a mask that’s lost in your jacket pocket or in the dirty dregs of your handbag. The solution? A cute mask chain. This invention looks like a necklace and functions like an eyeglass chain. It hangs around your neck to ensure your mask rests on your chest like a pair of sunglasses when not in use — and it makes your mask immediately accessible when you do reach for it.
Try the Reuven Designs Gold Face Mask Chain ($14.50 from Etsy), a simple gold chain best-seller with a customizable length. For a classy option that looks like real jewelry, consider the Lima Jewelry Pearl Necklace Chain ($20.64 from Etsy).
Find a Comfortable Fit
Cloth masks are the most breathable options, but health experts don’t recommend using them against Omicron. Instead, they suggest wearing an N95, KN95, or KF94 to protect against this more transmissible variant. Surgical masks are slightly better than cloth, and placing a cloth mask on top of a surgical one is more effective than wearing a surgical alone (because it tightens the fit).
KN95s come with ear loops, which are undoubtedly more comfortable to wear than the headstraps of N95s. However, you need to watch out for counterfeit N95s. Get yours from a site like Project N95, the National Clearinghouse for personal protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 tests. Their KN95 in stylish black ($14 from Project N95) and N95 ($35 from Project N95) provide the ultimate in protection.
For a more in-depth look at the best kind of masks to protect you from Omicron, check out this thorough breakdown of masks we recommend for the variant. Stay safe out there, and enjoy your summer!
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