Choosing the Right Mask

Roman Siger

Sometimes people make poor choices in the name of fashion. Dresses made of meat, shoes with built in wheels, and $24 million diamonds implanted into the foreheads of rappers. With the ongoing pandemic people have to make one more choice about clothing every morning: masks. But masks don’t need to be uncomfortable to be fashionable or effective.

The pandemic has been going on for almost two years, and students and employees are choosing which masks they are going to wear for eight hours a day. Comfort, effectiveness, and style are all important to people choosing masks

 The CDC recommends that students wear masks during all hours of the school day with the exception of lunch and short outdoor breaks. Naturally this can lead to discomfort if students are not wearing comfortable masks. Different materials often create different levels of comfort, effectiveness and style.

The basic surgical mask used by medical workers across the country is made of a combination of cloth, paper and plastic. They offer a basic level of comfort, and can degrade easily if used repeatedly. An itchy nose is a common problem when wearing these masks.

When working out or doing a physical activity, a different mask can be used to increase comfort.

When asked if he chose to wear a different mask for working out than he did in school, Junior  Jacob Rieflin agreed. 

“Yes I wear a different mask for working out. It’s more synthetic so it helps me breathe better,” he said.

Consumer grade masks include those made of cloth, fabric, cotton or nylon. These materials are more resistant to wearing down over multiple uses, so they remain comfortable for long periods of time.

Surgical masks are on the bottom for comfort level, but according to the EPA, they offer up to 53% more filtering effectiveness than masks made of synthetic materials.

The study by the EPA showed that surgical masks worn with no modifications have a 38.5% effectiveness, while a three layer cotton mask has a 26.5% effectiveness. The highest available effectiveness for a synthetic mask with modifications is 79%, while an N-95 surgical mask has an 98.4% effectiveness.

One can improve the effectiveness of their own mask through simply twisting the straps around the ear and tying a knot at the base to close off the opening on the side.

For style, masks come in different colors and patterns. Many different styles can be found on websites like etsy or amazon. Sometimes just a simple switch from a blue surgical mask to the available jet black surgical mask can improve your outfit.

Tillie Siger, a seventh grader at Lakeridge Middle School, said, “I wear a black surgical mask because it goes better with my clothes.”

Whether the pandemic ends soon or not, wearing the right mask can improve your daily life monumentally.