In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that you wear masks to slow the spread of the disease. However, with many cities enacting mask mandates, questions arose about the effectiveness of face coverings and if they reduce the spread of large droplets and airborne illnesses.
Early in the pandemic, health organizations recommended disposable face masks as an alternative to washable cloth masks for optimal protection and droplet containment. However, in light of new evidence, they shifted their opinion, stating that cloth masks effectively prevent spreading the COVID-19 virus.
While the change in recommendation from public health organizations may be confusing to some, the takeaway from the latest advice is to ensure your mask is comfortable, fits tightly to your face, has multiple layers, and that you wash it regularly.
Research on the overall effectiveness of masks has shown that when people speak, they can generate hundreds of droplets that can travel 20 to 500 micrometers. During the study, scientists used a damp washcloth to demonstrate the blocking ability of cloth. The cloth successfully blocked almost all droplets, reducing the spread of disease.
Why You Should Buy Breathable Face Masks
Having a face mask is essential, but it is even more critical to ensure that the face-covering is breathable. What makes a mask breathable is its ability to allow water vapor through the cover without soaking it.
In addition, most breathable masks are form-fitting, with room between your mouth and the fabric, making it feel less constricting. Here are several reasons why breathable fabric masks are crucial for your protection.
For optimal barrier protection, you need a comfortable face mask that fits snugly over your face covering both your nose and mouth. The material should provide ample protection (being tightly woven and layered) without obstructing your breathing. The best mask designs are structured, so the mask does not rest against your mouth.
Wearing a mask on a hot day or while playing sports can feel constricting and cause you to overheat and sweat. Finding a sports face mask that wicks moisture away from your skin can make wearing a mask during these activities more bearable.
- Better Skin Care
Mask use increases instances of skin irritation and acne around the nose and mouth and actually has a name: maskne. When a covering is not breathable, you trap the moisture from your breath and cause it to chafe the delicate skin on your face.
Soft, breathable fabric reduces irritation by increasing airflow to prevent moisture accumulation and stop pores from clogging. You can also help reduce skin issues associated with wearing a face covering by washing your hands and face before putting on or removing your mask. Use moisturizers to keep the skin hydrated.
- Less Impact on Blood Oxygen Levels
Breathable masks materials, such as cotton, don’t have any impact on blood oxygen levels. Some masks have been shown to moderately reduce blood oxygen in seniors. However, with breathable material, the reduced blood oxygen levels don’t fall below 92% saturation.
- More Convenient
Having to wear masks with glasses can cause additional issues for users. With non-breathable covers, warm moist air gets trapped. An ill-fitting design forces air upwards behind the lenses of your glasses, causing them to fog up and impairing visibility.
Fogged glasses are inconvenient and dangerous, leading to slips and falls due to limited visibility. Breathable masks allow the moist air to filter out of the front of the cover so your glasses won’t fog, and you can still safely complete your tasks.
- More Hygienic
Masks made from non-breathable material can become unhygienic over time. These masks can trap moisture and contaminants close to your face, allowing you to breathe them back into your body. These moisture droplets can transfer to your hands and potentially contaminate frequently touched surfaces.
Breathable masks allow moisture to escape while filter inserts trap pathogens to minimize the risk of airborne disease transfer.
How to Choose a Breathable Face Mask
When choosing the right face covering, look for masks with multiple layers, adjustable bands, nose wires for better fit and comfortable fabrics.
- Number of Layers
The CDC recommends face coverings with two or more layers. A multilayered mask is the best way to ensure you are getting maximum protection. Face coverings with a tighter weave stop smaller particles before they escape, as do form-fitting masks.
Surgical face coverings are not designed to filter the smallest airborne particles. In addition, as they are not form-fitting, small and large droplets can escape out of the sides of the mask.
When looking for a covering, hold it up to the light before you purchase it. If you can see the fabric weave, then it will be ineffective at blocking the virus. You’ll need to add a filter for masks that fail the light test to make them safe.
You should purchase disposable filters that do not prohibit the air from flowing from the mask freely. Fiber Knit Sport Sports Pro masks come with 30 triple-layer disposable filters that fit inside the mask’s 3D anatomical support structure.
- Adjustable Bands
For optimal comfort and protection, each covering should have a way to tighten or loosen the mask so you can breathe easily and still have a face-fitting design that minimizes viral transmission.
For straps that go around the head and neck, they must be long enough so you can loosen or tighten them as needed. If the bands use snaps or other closures rather than tying, there should be several position options. For example, ear loops may have a grommet to tighten or loosen the mask.
Fiber Knit Sport masks come with several ear band designs. The Sport and Sport Pro masks feature an ear loop-free design that uses elasticized face bands with an adjustable clasp at the back of the head to secure the mask in place. This takes the pressure off your ears, making the masks ideal for all-day use. The Fiber Knit Sport Air mask comes with ear loops crafted from rounded elastic that contour your ear shape, reducing discomfort.
- Nose Wires
Nose wires on masks create a better fit to help prevent your breath from escaping out the top or sides, forcing droplets through the filter. This stops bacteria, viruses, and allergens from bypassing the filter.
All Fiber Knit Sport masks come with ergonomically designed nose wires that help create a firm seal around your nose and mouth, reducing the amount of particles that can escape or infiltrate the mask. The nose wire provides added comfort by stopping the fabric from putting undue pressure on the bridge of your nose. It also works to help keep the face-covering in place and stops condensation from forming and creating glasses fog.
Fabric type is essential when selecting a breathable mask. Cotton is highly absorbent, making 100% cotton masks unsanitary and ineffective to wear all day. High-density synthetic knits are not breathable and create condensation droplets on the interior of the mask.
While cotton is an excellent choice for its soft texture and breathable weave, using recycled fibers, such as fibers made from plastic bottles, is a great alternative. Fiber Knit Sport’s new 3D KNIT technology allows for waste-free production and quick manufacturing time. Manufacturers use 3D printers to make sports masks and traditional air masks.Choose Breathable Protection from Fiber Knit Sport
Finding the most breathable face mask may take some trial and error. However, understanding the basics behind what makes a mask breathable and what features to choose from, you can be sure to pick the most comfortable face covering.
To learn more about our 3D KNIT technology, be sure to visit our website. With our selection of single-piece masks, we are sure you’ll find the right style for your needs.