We are being asked to cover our faces to prevent the pandemic, which is inconvenient and stuffy, but hardly a sacrifice. People have always worn for ceremonies or for religious or for fun at celebrations and to even scare the enemy during wars. Some workers are already used to wearing masks to protect themselves from chemicals, sparks and other dangers and they are part of the uniform for doctors and nurses. At carnival time some wear them to disguise their identity so that they can get up to mischief anonymously. There won’t be much mischief at the moment though! We’re all too scared of Covid-19 to want to touch any other humans.
It hasn’t taken long for fashionistas to realise that masks need not be made of medical materials and that our Covid-19 masks can look trendy and protect us from the pandemic at the same time. Numerous fashion designers are already on the case and a model wearing a trendy pink and beige Prada mask was featured on the cover of this month’s Vogue Spain. It won’t be long before they’re selling crystal embellished masks, masks with built in wi-fi headphones, fantastical bejewelled and tie-dyed creations to match our outfits.
However, ugly or beautiful they are, the reason we are wearing these masks is to protect us from Covid droplets, not to prove that we can afford to throw our money at top end fashion designers. Studies with the influenza virus have shown that scarves and silk only filter out 40% of the virus and a thin t-shirt is virtually useless and only filters out around 1%. However, a tea towel will keep out between 70-90%, similar to a surgical mask.
Of course, masks are not items we can try before we buy, but if you are considering investing in something more expensive than the blue and white versions which are now widely available, there are certain aspects you should take into consideration, for example, how easy is it to lower and raise for drinking or eating, will it adjust to the shape of your face and account for your glasses or even a hearing aid or earbuds. A good mask should be washable in soap and hot water at least 30 times and any additional filters should be removable for washing. Another important aspect is how it is held in place. Masks held in place with elastic are easier than those you have to tie behind you head.
Remember, whether you choose a fashion designer mask or a basic type, masks are MANDATORY in public spaces. No arguments.