Cotton? Leather? Silk? There are so many types of face masks to choose from, but is there one material that is better for your skin? There definitely is.
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As we are approaching the eighth month of quarantine, various types of face masks have emerged in the market. Earlier in the pandemic, people were fighting over N95 respirators and boxes of surgical masks, but nowadays, many of us are reeled into acquiring all the different types of designer face masks available. Suddenly, there is a plethora of fabrics that are being used in the construction of face masks. Now, we are faced with the question: “What are the true effects of putting such exotic fabrics so close to your face?” That is why we have listed down the materials used for face masks currently being sold in the market and how they could affect your skin.
Surgical Face Mask
The Material: The material used for a surgical face mask is called polypropylene at either 20-25 grams per square meter in density. You might have heard its more popular name: plastic.
The Good: The surgical face mask is the most affordable mask in the market. Aside from this, it is readily available in any store, whether it be online or in your nearest convenience store.
The Bad: Plastics are the usual cause to skin irritation and may inflame the skin of those who have skin disorders, specifically allergic contact dermatitis. To make matters worse, disposable masks are agents of pollution.
The Material: It’s easy to think that N95 masks are made from a different material as opposed to the surgical face masks. Unfortunately, these heavy-duty masks are also made of plastic.
The Good: N95 masks have a snug tight-fit and are strong enough to be used in healthcare settings. Plus, you’d have the same mask as Naomi Campbell in her Protecting Myself Against Coronavirus YouTube video.
The Bad: They’re plastic and air-tight causing you to sweat inside the mask. If used for a longer time period, the combination of sweat, sebum, and excess oils will result to mask-ne.
The Material: Cotton is commonly used for reusable face masks. Mainly because cotton is considered as the most used fabric in the world.
The Good: 100% cotton is breathable, comfortable, and would less likely cause you to sweat.
The Bad: Research has shown that cotton masks made from bandanas and t-shirts have little-to-no protection against COVID-19. It is projected to capture less than 10% of small particles.
The Material: Neoprene is a synthetic rubber named polychloroprene. It is a brand name coined by American DuPoint Corporation in the 1930s. This material is entirely waterproof and is usually made for scuba suits.
The Good: Neoprene masks are thick enough to filter droplets that may carry the virus. They are face-fitting and snug.
The Bad: There is nothing inherently bad about a neoprene mask for your skin. They are considered breathable and sophisticated. Despite this, some may write them off as a tad too heavy for the face. This is due to its chunkier texture.
The Material: There are now multiple types of leather masks available in the market. These range from genuine leathers to vegan leathers. Moreover, this material is known for its tough, durable, and luxurious texture.
The Good: Leather masks bring a different flavor to the traditional face mask. Many that are sold in the market give off steampunk elements that are reminiscent to John Galliano’s work for Dior in his later years.
The Bad: If done incorrectly, attention to comfort and usability may be overlooked. It is important to take note of the fabric’s multiple levels of thickness. Therefore, mistakingly buying a mask that is too thick would result to discomfort when worn. In addition to this, leather that is not treated properly may irritate your skin greatly.
The Material: Nylon is a synthetic polymer. This material is entirely synthetic and is a cheaper alternative to silk and hemp. Cheaper how? This fabric is extracted from petroleum. Yes, the one you use for your car.
The Good: Surprisingly, nylon masks are effective in combating COVID-19. Studies have show that they are capable of removing 77% of large particles and 12% of small ones.
The Bad: In any way you see it, you are putting gas on your face. Maybe it looks a little different, but it it’s still made from gas. There are no known hazardous effects to wearing nylon on your face, but we wouldn’t advise it. Also, it has received the lowest rank in breathability.
The Material: Silk is a natural fabric made from silkworm cocoons. It is considered as the strongest natural textile in the world. And, it is often associated with luxury and softness.
The Good: Silk is known to be the best material for those who have skin infections. Dermatologist would go as far as recommending silk bed sheets for those who have dry and flaky skin. Plus, it’s great for your hair.
The Bad: A layer of silk would do nothing against the coronavirus, but three layers of silk may be as protective as a medical-grade mask. Aside from this, pure silk fabric may be set at a higher price point.