A face mask is an absorbent cloth mask designed with comfortable textiles, commonly cotton, worn to soften the skin and draw out impurities. Soft cotton cloths absorb oil and sweat, leaving clean and refreshed skin behind. When physical distancing is not possible, and when more economical cloth masks are simply not available, cloth face masks offer a comfortable alternative.
Face masks come in two types: disposable and reusable. Disposable face masks can be washed and reused; however, they tend to be less effective because bacteria and allergens cannot be completely removed. Removable face masks, on the other hand, must be replaced regularly because bacteria and other microorganism grow in these soft fabrics, and they cannot be washed repeatedly. This means that although they may soften the skin and draw out contaminants, these disposable products do not perform as well as their reusable counterparts. In addition, most of these products contain petroleum jelly, which clogs breathing passage and irritates skin. Although some surgeons prefer to use disposable face masks, it’s always better to be safe than sorry and to change these regularly.
Face masks differ from therapeutic and surgical masks in that they have a single layer of absorbent material. Most face masks will have one or two layers of this material, such as: a top layer composed of a waxy protein like hyaluronic acid or collagen that draws out oil; a middle layer containing polymethylmethacrylate or PMMA; and a bottom layer consisting of a collagen elastomer. Some masks have additional treatments such as steam compression, where cold air is released from a machine to flatten the material and draw out contaminants. A benefit of face masks that use only one layer of absorbent material is that these provide protection from irritants without having to soften the skin. The top layer works against bacteria and allergens, while the middle layer protects the wearer’s nasal passages. A drawback is that these masks are typically used during the nighttime and because they are used infrequently, they wear down faster than daily disposable products.
When it comes to cleansing, a face mask should have two layers of material. The first layer removes surface oil and dirt, while the second helps to strip dirt and excess moisture from the skin. Both substances should be spread with a damp cloth and rinsed immediately after use. Some products have a leave-on conditioner that keeps facial oils from being left behind. Others are oil free but have a moisturizing effect if applied directly.
When using a hand sanitizer or other personal hygiene product on your face, it is recommended to avoid droplets. Droplets pose the same threat as particulate matter because they can be inhaled. Droplets are made up of dead cells, protein fragments and other materials that may not be easily removed by rinsing. If possible, avoid touching these areas and only use a clean wipe or towel. This rule also applies for the nose, eyes and mouth.
In addition to providing excellent protection against the elements, face coverings and other personal protective equipment such as gloves and respirators can reduce the spread of influenza and other infectious disease by reducing the transfer of airborne pathogens. However, the most important protection offered by these products is against irritants. In fact, most people don’t consider them to be a form of protection at all – they are more likely to think of them as a fashion statement.