5 Types of Face Mask Accessories You Really Need, According to Doctors
Add extra coronavirus protection to your face mask without sacrificing comfort or style with these doctor-recommended face mask accessories.
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Face mask accessories
Face masks are a necessary part of everyday life for the foreseeable future due to coronavirus. Therefore, it helps to find ways to make wearing masks as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. After all, the more comfortable you feel in your mask, the more likely you are to wear it.
“Any approach that would increase comfort or enjoyment is welcomed,” says Philip Bretsky, MD, a board-certified internist and primary care doctor at Santa Monica Primary Care in California, about face mask accessories. He adds, “Any steps that can increase mask use rates—particularly in situations where physical distancing is not possible—will reduce the likelihood of the virus spreading.” He reminds wearers, however, that masks are but one piece of the puzzle to stop the spread of coronavirus. “Masks are just a part of our overall mitigation efforts with handwashing and physical distancing being key elements in reducing the spread of the virus.” (Here’s what you need to know about face shields and coronavirus protection.)
Whatever helps increase mask compliance is a good thing, agrees Marisa Garshick, MD, as long as it’s done safely. “It is important to be consistent with wearing masks and for some that means wearing masks all day long—so if it means utilizing something to help make it more sustainable, it seems reasonable to try, providing you still maintain a good seal.” (Here are the worst face masks for coronavirus protection, although any mask is better than no mask.)
While quality mask accessories can help alleviate the difficulty and discomfort of wearing a mask, it can be difficult to parse out which mask accessories are worth your time and money. We spoke with doctors to figure out which ones are actually worth it.
Here are five types of face mask accessories you really need: face mask chains, face mask extenders, anti-fog sprays, nose bridges, and face mask filters. We’ve provided two to three options in each category, plus we added a few at the end that are upgraded face mask choices that are gentler on your skin.
Face mask chains: LOVE Links
Check out Love is Project’s LOVE Links, a stylish 3-in-1 necklace, bracelet, and mask holder, with the company on a mission to empower female artisans in developing countries through fair wages, healthcare, education, and more. Much like a sunglass chain, mask chains attach to your face covering and dangle around your neck, both preventing your all-important mask from being lost and ensuring you always have it when you need it. They can also help keep face masks clean, reducing the need to store them in potentially unsanitary places like pockets or on tables. But do they really help from a doctor’s perspective?
“Chains and lanyards absolutely serve as a great reminder to continually have the face mask on your person,” says Olivia Audrey, ND, a board-certified naturopathic physician and holistic health coach. However, she adds that it’s also important to make sure the accessories themselves are being disinfected regularly.
A percentage of sales from “Mask Thingy” chains by Moira Anne, benefit Gene Spotlight, a non-profit that raises money for rare disease medical research. This faux pearl chain can also double as a long necklace and can be paired with any of these stylish face masks for work. Also, mask chains like these are a fun factor that can increase compliance, according to Dr. Garshick. “People are coordinating masks with outfits and putting thought into how to make mask-wearing more enjoyable,” she says.
Chain options are nearly as numerous as masks themselves, and this is another proliferation of face mask chains with a charitable component. For every Delicora purchase, including their nickel-free 14 karat gold-filled chain doubling as a 21-inch necklace, fuels 20 meals donating fighting hunger through Feeding America. Each chain also includes a blush pink face mask. The inner layer is made of 100 percent cotton, while the outer layer is 95 percent cotton and five percent polyester. (Here are some other cotton face masks for teachers.)
Face mask extenders: MIAODAM Adjustable Mask Extender
Amazon’s bestselling MIAODAM Adjustable Mask Extender comes in a pack of five, offers four different color options, and allows mask straps to loop around adjustable grips hugging the back of the neck. A too-small mask can be uncomfortable, while a too-large mask can fall off, rendering it unsafe.
Mask extenders, also known as ear savers or ear protectors are designed to help get the perfect mask fit, as well as protect the delicate skin behind ears and reduce discomfort stemming from hours of wearing masks.
EvGlow Mask Strap Extenders
Another option to try is EvGlow Mask Strap Extenders that include soft, anti-slip silicone buttons to loop your mask straps on. They’re also reusable, and regardless of whether you’re wearing a cloth or a medical-grade mask, they can help any face covering with comfort and fit.
“Proper mask fitting is essential in stopping the spread of bacteria and viruses, so making sure that you choose your extenders properly so that they are sitting flush with the face instead of providing an external area where the virus may enter is crucial,” says Dr. Audrey. (Looking for extra protection? Here are the best goggles and face shields.)
Hanna Roberts Headbands
You can try a stretchy mask headband, which also keeps the mask comfortably in place (and looks stylish), too, like Hanna Roberts Headbands, available in seven different colors on Amazon. Dr. Garshick wants you to keep in mind that when buying any mask extender, make sure it works to improve fit.
“For those who are experiencing irritation or breakdown of the skin behind the ears, it is okay to use mask extenders as long as it doesn’t disrupt the mask coverage or integrity of the seal,” she adds. (Here are the best kids’ face masks for back-to-school.)
Anti-fog spray: Optix 55 Anti-Fog Spray
$11, two ounces
Few mask-related issues are more annoying than your glasses—whether sunglasses or for vision correction—constantly fogging up. You can keep mask-induced glasses fog at bay with a lens cleaner and anti-fog spray such as Amazon bestselling Optix 55 Anti-Fog Spray. Once you can see again, knowing how to read people’s faces when they are wearing masks will be a lot easier.
Condensation happens when your mask fit is not snug enough, explains Dr. Bretsky. “Warm, humidified air is releasing upwards through the mask, hitting the cold lens and condensing—creating fog,” he says.
Z Clear Lens Cleaner & Anti-Fog
Z Clear Lens Cleaner is designed to repel moisture and is 100 percent alcohol- and ammonia-free. Each bottle contains 300 sprays and the application will last about two to three days. However, this is contingent on the type of lens you have and the environment. Dr. Bretsky says he has a trick when the anti-fog spray is not around: “The N-95 masks I use in the clinic have a flexible nose bridge at the top which I pinch to create a more secure seal. Another trick is to push the glasses downwards to seal the top of the mask.”
Or, if you don’t want to buy another product, there’s an even simpler option: simply wash your glasses with soap and water.
According to a 2011 study published in the Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons, washing glasses with soapy water leaves behind a thin film that reduces surface tension, causing water molecules to spread out more evenly. (For a different face covering, try these neck gaiters for coronavirus protection.)
Nose bridges: BathBull Aluminum Strips
$7, 100 pieces
If your mask doesn’t already come with a nose bridge—perhaps it’s a homemade cloth mask, as opposed to an N-95 or surgical mask—you can get a 100 pack of BathBull aluminum strips. They’re easy to mold perfectly to your unique face shape for additional protection. A nose bridge or nose wire can help to keep the mask in place and ensure a safe and snug fit, Dr. Garshick explains.
“By preventing the mask from moving around, nose wires can be especially helpful for those who find their masks continue to slip or they find themselves needing to frequently readjust. It can also help to ensure a proper seal for those who wear glasses and are dealing with their lenses fogging up,” she says. (Make sure you’re not making any of these face mask mistakes.)
Face mask filters: Burlway Kinglight
$7, 1o pack
If your face mask doesn’t already have a built-in filter, disposable filters to place inside mask pockets may provide some limited additional protection.
Good filters to look for include carbon, which removes and absorbs particulate from the air, like Burlway Kinglight activated carbon filters available in packs of 10 and feature five layers. Reminder: The filter insert should be replaced every one to two days, or when the stains begin to appear.
$18, pack of 50
These Milton activated carbon filters are made from a non-woven filter cloth and have a five-layer filtration. Dr. Garshick explains that face mask filters are designed to reduce the chance of spreading the virus by reducing what passes through the mask.
She adds, “while they can be an added feature to help reduce transmission from the mask, it is important to wear a filter specific fitted for your mask and to be sure to know how long it is recommended to be used for, as some have guidelines of up to 12 hours per use.” (These are the public places doctors avoid during coronavirus.)
$16, pack of eight
According to Dr. Garshick, HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters, like those found in air purifiers, are also ideal for additional face mask protection. Giftgowns filters are designed with the highest Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values rating, which means its effective in trapping in certain particles. This eight-pack will ensure you have a few filters to replace your old filters throughout the week. (Also, check out these air purifiers for better air quality.)
Upgraded face masks: Cariloha Bamboo Face Masks
Want to upgrade your mask itself? Consider this unique offering from Cariloha Bamboo Face Masks, which is designed for acne-prone skin or those who need comfortable long-term use, thanks to its hypoallergenic, moisture-wicking, breathable bamboo with antimicrobial properties.
Each odor-resistant mask features three layers, a moldable nose clip, and an adjustable ear loop.
For the Feel
$35, pack of two
Billing themselves as the “all-day face mask,” For the Feel produces American-made masks from sustainable materials, free of toxic chemicals such as synthetic dyes, microplastics, and potential carcinogens like bisphenols. As a bonus, every worker involved in each mask’s production is paid 37 percent above the living wage.
The masks come in packs of two, four, and eight, providing options for you and the entire family. (These are the eco-friendly cleaning products that kill coronavirus.)
Primal Mask 2.0
The sleek masks available from Primal Mask 2.0 feature reusable and washable NT3D NanoTek filters (patent pending) with a 97 percent or more efficiency rating, as well as a patent-pending mask frame which helps make talking and breathing easier and more comfortable.
The filters are intended to provide a comfortable fit as you wear your mask. (Seeking more mask recommendations? These are the best face masks for exercise.)
- Philip Bretsky, MD, a board-certified internist and primary care doctor at Santa Monica Primary Care
- Olivia Audrey, ND, BCDN, a board-certified naturopathic physician and holistic health coach
- Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist in Manhattan at MDCS: Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery, and an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Cornell - New York Presbyterian Medical Center
- Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons: "A simple method to prevent spectacle lenses misting up on wearing a face mask"