A face mask, sometimes called a nasal strip, is a thick cloth mask placed over the nose and mouth, usually with a septum to isolate the nose and mouth from each other. It is worn for breathing through the mouth and can also be used for cleaning, although this is usually not necessary. Face masks were used extensively in ancient Egypt and ancient China but were less popular in modern times. While effective, face masks were cumbersome and could become dirty quickly. Also, when wearing a face mask during sports, it was nearly impossible to breathe through the mouth due to air resistance.
A face mask made out of plastic fabric, preferably vinyl, is a convenient alternative to a face mask. As well as being easy to wash and clean, they offer a more natural look to the wearer’s face and often have air holes built into their design so that a breather may wear them with confidence. While cloth or plastic face coverings are comfortable and don’t block or hinder the wearer’s natural airflow, plastic faces can often look artificial or cheap.
When selecting an appropriate face mask, one must keep in mind its application: whether it is required for cold or warm weather, to block out wind and/or moisture, for breathing or clearing your nose, for post nasal drip treatment, etc. Most masks today come with built in exhalation valves. These should be operated properly in order to maintain a constant airflow through the nose and mouth, otherwise the mask will become uncomfortable and cause irritation.
Face masks are available in two types of application: open face and closed face. Closed face masks are worn close to the head; thus, to achieve maximum air circulation, it is best to use one that is of a size that completely covers the nose and mouth. Open face masks (sometimes called nasal cushions) are worn lower to the face and can either be over or under the nose. These can also be worn at any portion over the nose and cheeks to add additional air circulation. These types of masks can be worn during cold weather, as well as in hot weather, when airflow through the nose can be slightly less than with the closed variety.
For those who have a sensitive skin condition, such as dermatitis, eczema or acne, face masks designed to provide a barrier between the skin and irritating particles may be suitable. Vitamins A, C and E are often included in a mask for hydration of the skin, since these vitamins act to improve the health of the skin by improving its elasticity and reducing its inflammation. A mask that contains vitamin E can help to reduce the signs of age on the skin, since it is a powerful antioxidant that destroys age-related free radicals that form with the formation of collagen and elastin.
To maintain the effect of a face mask after use, it is recommended that you apply a moisturizer to the skin right after cleansing the face, to retain the effectiveness of the product. The use of products containing ingredients such as vitamin A, vitamin C and E can help to fade the appearance of discoloration caused by contact with preservatives, colorants and fragrances used in the preparation of the product. The use of high-quality cosmetic products should be performed in the presence of a qualified medical practitioner.