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    A Guide To The CDC's New Face Mask Recommendations — Plus How To Make Them Easier

    Including pro-tips on how to get a more comfortable, tightened face mask fit, how to properly double mask, and — more importantly — how *not* to double mask.

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    Hey there! By now you've seen the CDC's guidelines recommending people wear nonmedical face coverings in public (and know whether or not they're mandatory in your area).

    Two cartoon people wearing masks
    CDC

    These guidelines are in place primarily to protect people around you from droplets you might expel through breathing, talking, or coughing; even people without symptoms may still be at risk of spreading the virus. The primary functions are that they are breathable, cover your nose and mouth, and are tight enough that they don't leave loose space for droplets to escape. Ideally, face coverings will also be multi-layered — and even *better*, could include a pocket for a filter.

    On Wednesday, Feb. 10, the CDC released new mask guidelines for how you can make your mask-wearing game even stronger, and better protect both yourself and the people around you.

    Cartoon model wearing a face mask showing how air can escape through the side and the top of the mask
    CDC

    Namely, the CDC has new recommendations on tightening face masks and double-masking to prevent extra air and droplets from escaping your mask (and to better protect yourself from exposure to droplets).

    BuzzFeed's face mask guideline explainer delves more into the science behind the recommendations, but here's a break down of what exactly the CDC is advising, and some easy how-tos and fixes you can easily take care of to meet those standards.

    First up is making sure your mask is snug on your face — there are several adjustments the CDC advises you can make to get yourself the best fit.

    The fastest, most efficient way they recommend is to knot the ends of your elastic-strapped face masks.

    A before image of a face mask with elastic straps unknotted and the after image of the face mask with knotted straps
    Emma Lord/BuzzFeed

    Not everyone will need to do this with every mask, but if your face is smaller than the one-size-fits-all elastic on most masks, this *really* makes a different with the fit. Also, pro-tip to runners: I find it a heck of a lot easier to do long runs when my mask is knotted at the back like this, it helps it sit off my nose and mouth a bit more.

    Here's some context for what how much of a difference this makes, sponsored by my human face.

    BuzzFeed editor in a mask before it is knotted at the ends, then in the tighter version once it has been knotted
    Emma Lord/BuzzFeed

    You can see in the first image that it's baggy not just at the nose piece, but also at the chin, which lets extra air leak out. In the second image, it's much snugger to my entire nose and jaw with the quick knots at the end.

    For another knotted elastic option that helps not only tighten the fit but pop some of the mask fabric off of your mouth, the CDC recommends tying it at the base of the elastic.

    BuzzFeed editor in a mask before it is knotted at the base, then in the tighter version once it has been knotted
    Emma Lord/BuzzFeed

    It's a pretty quick fix, but they link out to a video tutorial on how to knot your face mask elastic from Emily Sickbert-Bennett, PhD, director of Infection Prevention at UNC Hospitals, if it's helpful.

    For convenience's sake, you can also get ear toggles to quickly adjust the ear loops for you — especially handy when you're using reusable face masks.

    Two mask straps with the toggles on them making them smaller
    Amazon

    To install these, you'll need a needle and thread to help pull the elastic through the little hole in the toggle; there's a visual instruction guide on the Amazon seller page for reference. You can get a set of 50 from Amazon for $5.99 or a set of 100 for $7.99.

    Another way the CDC recommends getting a tighter fit is by getting masks with a nose clip on the inside, like these well-reviewed three-layered face masks with a nose bridge on Amazon.

    Reviewer image wearing a black face mask with around the ear loops and glasses that are not fogged
    amazon.com

    A lot of people with glasses swear by these — by conforming better to your face shape, it not only reduces your chances of exposure or letting air out, but it also makes it easier to keep your glasses from fogging up. You can get these around-the-ear loop, three-layer, cotton masks (no filter pocket) in a three-pack from Amazon for $15.40.

    Alternatively, if you have face masks that don't have a nose wire, you can purchase nose clips for your mask.

    amazon.com, amazon.com

    A lot of people also found these quite helpful for preventing their glasses from fogging up. You can get a 100-pack from Amazon for $6.49.

    Plus if you know you're going to be in your face mask for a long stretch of time, you can even invest in some painless double-sided medical tape to secure the fit on your face, like this pack of 36 precut strips from Amazon for $14.95.

    Another way the CDC recommends getting a tighter fit is through mask fitters that sit on top of your face mask to hold it in place. While these are difficult to find online, modified versions like this silicone face mask extender strap will also help tighten the fit and keep it locked in place.

    A model wearing a mask that is pulled together around the back of their head by the silicone ear saver, which has three different toggles on the back for sizing
    Amazon

    A lot reviewers mentioned that not only did this keep their masks locked in place, but it significantly reduces the pressure on their ears. Reviewers also mentioned this worked great for kids' masks, especially since sizing for kids' faces is all over the place and difficult to measure out when you're buying masks online. You can get a four-pack from Amazon for $6.99.

    As will this extendable, adjustable Velcro mask strap that sits comfortably around the back of your neck.

    Amazon

    These are a little nicer just because you can adjust them more precisely than the other version to get a super personalized fit; you can get it from Amazon for $7.06+.

    Lastly, the CDC has extended its recommendation on layering — before they advised on two or three-layer masks, but are now advising that it's *also* beneficial to double mask, specifically with disposable mask under a reusable one.

    BuzzFeed editor with a reusable cloth face mask layered on top of a disposable face mask
    Emma Lord/BuzzFeed

    Per the CDC, the second mask helps add more protection because it pushes the edges of the disposable mask tighter against your face. The mask I'm wearing above is from Old Navy; it doesn't include a nose bridge (my disposable mask does), but it does have a built-in toggle at the ear loop for easier adjustment, which makes them quite handy for layering. You can currently get triple-layer cotton face masks with adjustable elastic ear loops (but no pocket filter) in five-packs from Old Navy for $12.95.

    (To be clear, any kind of mask is still better than no mask! It's just that double-masking and triple-layered face masks are the most effective.)

    Some caveats: you should never combine a KN95 face mask with any other face mask, and you shouldn't combine two disposable masks.

    CDC

    KN95 face masks are more effective on their own than with a secondary mask, and the fit of disposable masks won't improve with additional layering, according to the CDC.

    The CDC also recommends that if you *are* using an N95 mask or other respirators, you cross-check with the CDC website for guidance, particularly in regards to purchasing from stockpiles and internationally, certain CDC/NIOSH recommendations and safety flags, and in considering the masks' shelf-life.

    Also, pro-tip if you're worried about double masking and having all that fabric against your nose and mouth: you can get 3D mouth brackets that clip to the inside of your face mask without sacrificing the fit.

    amazon.com

    These help keep you from breathing in fabric, keep pressure off your nose, and can even help prevent your glasses from fogging up. FWIW, lot of reviewers also mentioned this was great for saving their lipstick or when fabric from masks gets wet in the rain. You can get a set of five from Amazon for $9.99.

    You can read more about the CDC's most recent face mask recommendations for more details, as well as BuzzFeed's face mask explainer on the reasoning behind the new recommendations.

    But psst — a few little mask tips before you go!

    BuzzFeed recently published a list of products to make wearing glasses with a face mask easier, including this anti-fog spray you can quickly apply to eyeglasses, sunglasses, and face shields to prevent them from fogging up while you're wearing a mask.

    amazon.com, amazon.com

    A heads up that this works *super* well for some reviewers, but not all — note that this is meant for non antireflective-coated lenses, and the instructions for use are very specific. To apply, spray a small amount on both sides of your lenses, and use your fingers to rub it across the whole area. Let it sit for a full minute, then wipe with a dry soft cloth. Once they're fully dry, you should be raring to go! You can get it from Amazon for $10.55, and check out the rest of the piece for more products to help make wearing a face mask with glasses easier.

    Plus if you're looking for even *more* mask recommendations, I've also assembled a MASSIVE list of the best places to buy face masks online, including faves like Aerie, Old Navy, and Target, as well as a ton of cute Etsy shops ❤️.

    Just remember — masks are not a substitute for social distancing! You should still maintain a minimum of 6 feet of distance between you and other people when possible, and continue washing your hands and avoiding touching your face. Stay safe!

    TV Tokyo

    You can also check out BuzzFeed's guides to face masks in solid colors, the prettiest face masks, and face mask problem products for more options, and keep up with the CDC's face mask guidelines for more information.

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