With a shortage of face masks and the recommendation that people should use one, the public is turning to more and more creative solutions. You may have seen everything from bandanas to underwear covering faces, as the people of your community attempt to stay safe during the pandemic.
The problem is, not all of these creative solutions actually provide the right protection. It’s important to know the best way to protect yourself and others with these makeshift face coverings.
Have an old headband at home you never use? Now is your chance to find out if it’s the right material and learn how to make a makeshift face mask out of a headband.
How to get real protection from a headband face mask
The effectiveness of headband face masks depends on the following factors which determine the filtration efficiency:
Headbands are made of a variety of different cloth types, including cotton or silk. These different materials offer different levels and types of filtration efficiency. The closer together the threads are, the greater the filtration efficiency of the material.
Cotton is the most widely used material in reusable cloth masks. Masks made from tightly woven cotton filter particles through mechanical filtration. On the other hand, silk, chiffon, and flannel filter particles through electrostatic filtration. A combination of these materials offers the best filtration levels, likely due to the effect of both mechanical and electrostatic filtration.
The thread count
The higher the thread count of the material, the greater filtration it offers. For optimal efficiency, select a fabric that has a tighter weave with smaller holes. That leaves less space for infected droplets to make their way through.
Number of layers in the headband
The CDC recommends that cloth masks be made of at least two layers, so this applies to headband face masks too. You can insert a filter, such as a coffee filter, for an additional layer of protection.
The facial fit of the mask
The headband face mask should fit snugly on your face and adequately cover your nose and mouth. Face masks of all kinds should form a seal to prevent contaminants from leaking in or out through the sides of the mask.
Making your headband mask even more effective
Headband face masks can offer some protection against the coronavirus. Any type of mask that forms a barrier will help protect the wearer from some level of viral aerosols. But the use of headbands as protective face masks has not been thoroughly researched, which is why it’s important to always adopt other protective strategies as well.
Frequent hand washing and social distancing are vital since they help reduce the spread of germs and prevent you from coming into contact with others who could be infected. And, of course, you yourself could be an asymptomatic carrier of the virus.
How to turn a headband into a face mask
Want to try out your own headband face mask? They’re very simple to make:
- Take two elastic ties and tie one around each side of the headband to act as ear loops.
- Place the ear loops around your ears.
- Adjust the headband so that it properly covers your nose and mouth.
- Place a coffee filter or paper towel into the headband for an additional layer of protection, if desired.
Headbands with buttons to hold face masks
Headbands can be useful for providing protection, even if they aren’t the actual part that covers your mouth and nose. After long hours of wearing a mask, you may have noticed uncomfortable soreness or chafing from the ear loops behind your ears. A good way around this is to use headbands to hold the mask comfortably in place.
Some people, like Petro from Easy Peasy Creative Ideas, are using headbands with buttons to hold up their face masks and prevent damaging the skin around the ears. Check out Petro’s version in the image below. The earloops of the mask are placed around the buttons of the headband instead of the ear.
To try this strategy, simply sew a button on either side of your headband. Then, loop your ear loops over your ears and around the buttons. Make sure your mask still fits properly by bending your head from side to side to check for gaps.
The coronavirus (or COVID-19) is spread through direct or indirect contact with infected respiratory droplets. Face masks help protect the wearer by acting as a barrier between the nose and mouth and the infected droplets. N95 respirators and surgical masks are medical-grade face masks that should be reserved for healthcare workers in this pandemic.
The CDC has urged the general public to use cloth face masks or other face coverings as alternatives for protection. Since cloth face masks can be made of various materials and clothing items, why not use a headband? It could be just as good as a regular homemade face mask if you make sure to use the right type of fabric.