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Commentary Coronavirus Top Stories

Best and Worst of Masks

Masks have become a daily staple in our new reality that we all tolerate. A lot of people complain about having to wear a mask, which I get–they’re hot, kind of hard to breathe through and wreak havoc on sensitive skin. 

However, they also offer a lot of benefits: like keeping us alive, allowing us to show off our quarantine sewing projects and covering up our “maskne,” or mask acne. Like everyone else, I’ve come into contact with a lot of different kinds of masks, and I have compiled a list of the best and worst.

Starting with my favorite: cloth masks. First of all, cloth masks are so soft it feels like a little blanket on your face, which I find to be an incredible comfort during these trying times. Yes, they do get a little sweaty, but they’re super easy to wash and reuse. The variety of cloth masks alone is enough to make them my favorite. Still, according to a Duke study, they are also very effective comparing the prevention efficacy of different types of masks.  

Blue surgical masks are fine. They work well, and they’re a little more breathable than the cloth blanket, but they’re boring and not reusable. N95s, much like the surgical mask, work well but again are very bland. I think N95s are great if you need a confidence boost, though. After all, they are the holy grail of masks.

Sock masks! I have no idea if these are effective or not, but they always make me laugh. Plus, they’re incredibly accessible and easy to make in a pinch.

First up in the worst mask category are neck fleece, also called neck gaiters. I don’t know what it is about these, but I find them so upsetting. They’re like ill-fitting turtlenecks, and they always look like they’re on the verge of falling off. Additionally, they performed very poorly in the Duke mask study. 

Bandanas were kind of fun in the beginning, but now that we’re entering the seventh month of the pandemic, it’s maybe time to invest in a real mask. Like the fleece, bandanas did not prove to be very effective in preventing the spread of water droplets.

Last of all: crocheted masks-perhaps the dumbest mask I’ve seen. I appreciate the craft and the time that went into making them, but they’re literally full of holes. I also can’t imagine how itchy that would be to wear.

I honestly haven’t been overly impressed with the masks I’ve seen. We could stand to be a little more creative, so I’ve created a little mask wish list in an attempt to manifest my dream masks. Please consider making these a reality. 

I want a mask with a little pocket on the front for a convenient Chapstick or ID pouch. 

I would love to see a mask made out of a weird material, like a corduroy or denim mask. 

I’d like a mask that is a picture of the bottom half of the wearer’s face. I think this could potentially be very profitable, especially if marketed to those who are having a difficult time recognizing their friends in masks.

If you want to learn more about how different masks performed, you can check out The Fayetteville Observer article about Duke’s mask study. Most importantly, though, thank you for wearing a mask.

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