Healthy Body

A New Study Finds the Most Effective Type of DIY Face Mask

Mary Grace Garis

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If you’ve been curious about which is the most effective face mask you can get without going full hospital garb or hazmat suit, we have a hard lead thanks to a study from Florida Atlantic University. Using a a mannequin head, a manual pump, and a smoke generator to emulate a human sneeze, researchers mapped the paths of droplets to see how they were altered by various kinds of masks. So head’s up, the study found that droplets from an uncovered cough could travel over 8 feet (hate to hear it!). But different kind of masks can protect you against droplets from closer-or-farther distances. And truly, there is one mask to rule them all: stitched-quilting fabric masks, made of cotton if you can go the extra mile.

The study stacks up the results of each kind of DIY mask, and you’re not going to like the results. If you’ve been rocking a bandana like you’re about to rob a saloon, bad news. Bandanas only protect you up to three feet. The folded cotton handkerchief route only protects you up to 1.25 feet, so you can put your hair ties to better use. The cone-style mask, for those who was a light summer take a Plague Doctor look, can barricade germs from an eight inch distance. And then there’s good-old stitched-quilting fabric masks; beautiful in their simplicity, they’ll guard against droplets that come 2.5 inches away from you.

Of course the resounding message here is that any mask is better than none, so you know… wear a maskAnd proper mask maintenance is essential to doing this safely as well: the World Health Organization notes that if you reuse your mask, it needs be washed daily with soap and water at least. Likewise it should’ve be hanging off your face and needs to cover both your mouth and your nose. If you’re still humoring makeup during this pandemic, it’s high time to step up your eyeliner game.

This all being said, I’m 110 percent sure I’m not the only one with zero sewing skills. That might be a cute excuse when this pandemic started, but there’s like a gazillion places where you can get a gorgeous cotton stitched mask instead.

Some of the most effective machine-washable face masks you can buy

Shop: Watermelon Face Mask, $14

Society6 recently put machine-washable face masks on their lists on things that can be customized. You get the feel-good vibes of supporting an independent artist, and some of the proceeds benefit the World Central Kitchen‘s COVID-19 relief efforts. This one gives off summer-appropriate “Watermelon Sugar” vibes, but there’s tons and tons and tons of pretty options to choose from.

Shop: Mermaid Face Mask, $14

Obviously Etsy was one of the first hubs where people started DIYing their options, so that’s a place to turn to in a pinch. Here we have a mermaid one that’ll help you feel more at home in the ocean, even beach days this summer, mmm, just don’t feel the same.

Shop: The 100% Human Face Mask Three Pack, $28

This mask trifecta by Everlane was launched as an update on their 100% Human campaign, a call to fight for human rights. If you’re looking to keep things simple and clean, you can buy this three pack knowing that 10 percent of the sales will go to the ACLU.

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