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How Not to Wear a Face Mask

By now we all know how important it is to avoid exposure to COVID-19. Since it can spread through sneezes, coughs, and the resulting droplets that may be too small to even see, it’s now recommended that you wear face masks in public and maintain a safe distance from people. To put it simply, you either maintain at least six feet of distance or be prepared to go six feet under! That’s just the blatant truth. 

Once physicians advised that face masks are right up there with face washing and social distancing to flatten the curve, thousands of face masks popped up in a myriad of colors, shapes, and sizes everywhere. Right off the bat (no pun intended), there was an army of companies manufacturing one face mask after another. 

In theory, it’s not all that difficult to get a good face mask and wear it, but due to surgical mask shortages and misinformation, there have been a lot of questionable face masks and their alternatives on the loose. Don’t believe it? Just google “face mask funny”. A few months ago, you’d expect that search to bring up women looking hilarious after slathering a mix of oatmeal, milk, and whatnot on their faces, but now “face mask funny” or “face mask jokes” shows people doing a lot of humorous (if inadvisable) things while trying to avoid COVID-19. 

Although it’s a serious issue, we have to admit that it sometimes tickles our funny bone. I mean, who doesn’t need a face mask joke or two right now? And hey, if you’re someone who has never dealt with face masks before, you’re bound to make mistakes! So, to lighten up your mood – especially when everything looks a little glum – here are some hilarious don’ts (and a few dos) of wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

DON’T wear a face mask below your nose

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Remember how the virus spreads through respiratory droplets? It so happens that you can get infected after someone with the disease coughs or sneezes. And, no prizes for guessing how that happens, right? Yes, you inhale those droplets and then fall sick. Thus, if you wear a face mask that doesn’t cover your nose, you’re doing it completely wrong! The coronavirus doesn’t differentiate between your nose and mouth – it’s an unbiased virus – so wear a mask that covers both.

DON’T break social distancing – even with a mask on

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Wearing a face mask is important, but what’s even more critically important is that you maintain a healthy distance from people, especially people outside of your household. Since:

A. Most masks can not stop 100% of particles, and:
B. Touching is a great way to pick up the particles your mask did stop…

It’s best to keep those hormones in check for a while. This goes for interactions like hugging and handshaking as well!

DON’T spray chemicals on your face mask

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When you’re brainstorming, there are no bad ideas. Except…sometimes there are. From drinking disinfectants to spraying chemicals on their face masks, some people have really taken to heart some of the more bizarre suggestions that have been made in the name of safety recently. 

Yes, it does sound funny, but it can go down a dangerous road very quickly. Keep the sanitizers for your hands only, and wash your masks with laundry detergent and hot water between uses. Do not spray any sort of chemical, including alcohol, on your mask. You’re going to inhale the very same thing you sprayed!

DON’T misunderstand what kind of face mask we’re talking about, here

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Remember the craze for those sheet masks? Sheet masks are thin pieces of paper that resemble tissue paper. You simply wear them on your face for about 15 minutes and take them off. While they may make your skin smoother, they certainly won’t protect you from viruses. Not even the gold or charcoal masks, no matter how pretty they look!

DON’T…do this

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Necessity is the mother of invention…but not every invention is a winner. Even if, for some reason, it seems like a good idea at the time, skip the sanitary pads and look for a no-sew DIY mask tutorial instead the next time you’re out of disposable masks and need to run to the store.

DON’T raid your underwear drawer

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Apparently, all you have to do to turn a bra into a face mask is to remove the hooks and string them together. But should you? Probably not. Although the basic shape may be similar to an N95 mask, your bra cup is probably poorly sized and fitted to provide anywhere near the same type of protection. Not to mention, depending on your personal style, the material may not be any more effective than one of those t-shirts you haven’t worn in ages.

Oh – and it may make for a funny pic, but no, your panties aren’t going to do you any favors as a face mask, either. Creative, yes. Effective, no.

DON’T use just any old filter you can find

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He’s creative, sure, with the attached filter and an unmistakable swag, but do not try this at home! Take this as the hilarious joke it was meant to be. You simply need to buy a real face mask and use it. Or, there are several tutorials on the internet that may help you. You don’t even need to learn to sew! Go on, check them out. 

And now that we’ve covered all those face mask don’ts, let’s take a look at some things you should definitely do to get the most out of your actual face mask.

Here’s what you can do:

1. Keep it dry

Imagine putting on a mask that doesn’t fit quite right or is made out of very heavy material. It gets hot and stuffy in there and the cloth becomes damp. Not only does this attract infections due to moisture, but it also defeats the purpose of wearing a mask. Replace damp masks with new ones to prevent infections.

2. Sanitize your hands

Wash your hands well and sanitize them before donning the mask. Then do the same before removing it and yes, you guessed it, once more after you’ve cleaned or disposed of your mask.

3. Keep your hands to yourself

Studies suggest that we tend to touch our faces at least 23 times every hour! That’s a lot of touching and we don’t even realize it. Perhaps you’re adjusting your eyeglasses, scratching your nose, or simply tapping your chin, but the point is that you will touch your mask with the same hands. Avoid touching your face and sanitize your hands immediately if you forget.

4. Don’t take your mask on and off

If you’re going to go through the trouble of getting a face mask, make sure that you leave it on when you need it. Do not fidget and pull it around even if it feels stuffy. Easier said than done, you say, but it’s something that could save your life!

5. Use clean masks

This goes without saying, but let’s say it anyway. Use new masks every day or wash the mask every single day. There are no exceptions. Otherwise, any particles or droplets that made it to the outside of your mask could travel to your nose and mouth after getting bunched up and re-worn.

6. Use masks that cover your nose and mouth

Ensure that there’s no gap between the mask and your face. And, yes, it should cover your mouth and nose as much as possible. A nose wire can help with cloth masks that tend to gape between the nose and cheeks and is surprisingly easy to add.

Remember that although face masks are important, social distancing is what you should focus on. Pay more attention to hygiene and encourage others to maintain a safe distance even if they are your close friends. As long as we follow the rules and keep our sense of humor, we will get through this, so do your best and remind yourself that this too will pass!

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