How to look great in a mask while staying safe?
Following your numerous questions about masks, their usage, their care and mostly often, about how to look good while staying safe, I am writing this post to share my answers, hoping they will be useful for you.
I will address several topics related to safety and concerning the look, among them which mask to choose, what are the right gestures when using it and for those who wear glasses, what to do in case of fogging.
First of all: your safety
Information which has been repeated many times and which I will not omit here, is that the fabric masks do not protect you from viruses in 100%, including Covid-19. They form the first barrier to avoid spreading of droplets. Wearing a mask helps you not to touch your face, helps protect others when you cough or sneeze. It offers the first protection for you and for others.
Your mask is the most effective when it fits your face firmly. The air must not pass through the gaps between your face and the mask. The mask requires the inspired air to pass through its layers. Following this filtration, the particles present in the air come to settle on the fibers of the mask.
Filtration vs breathability
When choosing your mask pay close attention to the material it is made from. The mask materials must allow breathing while filtering very small particles (0.3 micron). AFNOR (French national organization for standardization) documents, as well as the recent studies on the comparisons of filtration capacities of various materials, confirm that the fabrics that best meet the technical filtration requirements are materials composed of fine threads with a tight weave. Loose weaves allow you to breathe more easily, but do not filter the air well enough. On the other hand, a dense thick material, will ensure a more important filtration, but will not allow you to breathe easily.
Mask look and features
Another tip to make the right choice is to decide first which mask features are most important for you.
During my first tests I noticed that the masks made of plain patterns look heavier and wider than the ones with a pattern. This is why for my masks I choose a selection of heather fabrics or fabrics in flowery, fruit, bandana, striped or chequered patterns.
When working on the first production I developed a cotton mask model, composed of 2 layers of fabric, with an inside pocket. The pocket allowed an additional disposable filter to slip inside the mask, such as a layer of tissue, gauze or a surgical mask. That turned out to be a fair choice, because this function gives the possibility of adapting the mask to various needs which can evolve, following your movements, the entourage in which you are or simply your personal preferences.
It is important to choose the right length of ear straps, not only for you comfort, but as well in order to avoid having a mask too loose or too tight, which may create protruding ears. To counteract this I decided to offer 3 different sizes of ear traps and selected the most extensible elastic available. Further in my mask production experience I developed a design using adjustable elastic straps allowing the regulation of their length.
What’s best: cotton or polyester?
With regard to the choice of the composition of the materials, cotton is widely recommended. Polyester is often used, especially for low-cost masks and is subject to much controversy. The positive aspect of this type of fiber, is that it quickly wicks away the moisture, which keeps the mask dry and forms a barrier against bacteria and viruses. On the other hand, synthetic fibers do not tolerate high temperatures which are recommended for washing masks. The polyester degrades after being treated at 60°C (140°F). It is for this reason, among other things, that a maximum number of washes is often recommended for those masks (e.g. 5-30 washes). Degraded polyester decreases breathing comfort, because the mask gets more and more airtight and becomes unusable.
The specificity of cotton fabrics and certain qualities of cotton blends is that they do not degrade, even after numerous washes at the recommended temperature of 60°C (140°F).
"I finally find it not so difficult to breathe with
a fabric mask + an additional layer inside (piece of silk or cotton).
This @slash_brand mask is perfect"
- Naomi, Paris, France
What about silk?
The recent studies related to mask materials show that silk has good filtration capacity. My only concern was the high temperature treatment necessary for mask maintenance, however silk is a very resistant fiber thanks to its structure made up of filament. It becomes more fragile when wet and its level of fragility depends on its weight (the higher its weight the stronger the fabric will be). Machine-washing at 60°C (140°F) will change silk visual appearance, but not the structure of the filaments or its filtration capacity. After machine-washing the silk fabric will acquire a suede or peach skin effect, it will lose its shine, but will gain a softer texture.
Other benefits of using 100% silk as the inside layer of the mask are its skin care properties. Silk contains natural proteins and 18 essential amino acids. It is considered the contact of our skin with silk speed up the metabolism of skin cells and help to counter the effects of aging. It is for this reason, that silk pillow cases became so popular.
Is it ok if my mask keeps moisture?
It is definitely not ok and not safe. If you are concerned about the moisture accumulated from your breath in your mask, the solution will be to choose a mask made with a silk layer. Silk has hydrophobic properties and will create a barrier blocking the transfer of moisture and prevent the transfer of any viruses or bacteria.
Depending on the individual needs, another solution could be to insert an additional, disposable hydrophobic layer in the mask pocket, for example : a surgical mask, a silk, or a polyester tissue.
The nose bridge strip is an undeniable asset. Being on the top edge of the mask, it allows not only adjusting your mask on the nose to increase the filtration efficiency of the mask, but also, if you wear glasses it will help you reduce the formation of fogging on the glasses.
If, despite the nose bridge strip, mist still forms on your glasses, another solution is to coat the glasses with a thin layer of liquid soap and wipe them, without rinsing. This removes the surface tension and prevents water molecules from attaching to the surface of the glasses.
There are also anti-fog sprays, which are also very effective in winter, because they help prevent fogging when entering a heated room.
Sébastien – restaurateur and Franck - chef wearing Slash Brand masks
at the "Au Cochon de Lait" restaurant, Paris, France
Taking care of your masks #1: washing
It is advisable to machine wash your masks at 60°C (140°F) for 30 minutes. I have noticed that many of my acquaintances do not often do their laundry at 60°C (140°F), for environmental issues or other reasons, and have no intention of changing their habits. If you are in this group, exceptionally, wash your masks by hand, but use a spatula so as not to burn your hands.
The choice of washing powder or detergent is important. A cleaning product that can leave toxic residues, which could be inhaled when wearing the mask, should be avoided.
For this reason, the best choice will be the use of an ecological detergent and an abundant rinse in order to remove all the residues.
Taking care of your masks #2: ironing
I know that ironing is considered a particularly annoying chore, but it is a significant disinfection step, do not dodge it! Iron your mask with a hot iron, in cotton mode: 3 points, which corresponds to a temperature of 200°C (390°F).
The little tip to keep your mask as beautiful as when it was purchased, is to use a slightly damp cotton cloth for the ironing of the external part placed between the mask and the iron. This will allow you to avoid the effect of shine, especially visible on matt materials and dark colours.
Myriam – chef of the organic and vegetarian restaurant "Annadata", St. Malo, France
I hope the information and tips provided will be helpful.
If you have any questions, please comment below, I will reply as soon as possible.