This time last year I bought some masks to use while removing some mold. I only really needed one, but they came in a box of 10, so I had nine left over when the Coronavirus arrived. They were N95, the Cadillac of masks, and the ones recommended for medical professionals. As such, they were instantly in short supply, and I was glad to be able to use them right away and to share some with my roommate in California. I have used them while travelling and washed them several times.
The N95 masks are good, but I don’t like how the elastic straps fit over my head, not over my ears. This means that the masks are difficult to take off and put on quickly.
The second masks I bought were made by a local person in Edmonton who caught on to the need and advertised them on NextDoor. These fit well, come in attractive colours, and are easy to wear, but they do not have a metal or foam strip to fit over the nose. As such, they allow escaping breath to fog up my glasses.
This fogging has turned out to be an ongoing problem. My next purchase was a package of cheap and cheerful disposable masks made in China. I have used these most often and have even found that they can be hand-washed once or twice before they deteriorate too much.
The disadvantage to these is that they get drawn in towards the face with intakes of breath. So, I bought these plastic frames to guard against that. They are tricky to attach, and don’t stay on long if you engage in conversation.
The disposable masks also allow fogging of my glasses, so I bought these rubber nasal bridges to try to prevent that.
I only tried using these once or twice and they didn’t stay in place. I’m wondering now if they are supposed to be glued to the masks. Regardless, I don’t use them. Since I bought these I have seen some similar bridges advertised that have a slot to hold the edge of the mask, and those would probably work more effectively.
My next purchase seemed to be more promising. The fabric is soft, and the design fits my face well.
Unfortunately, my glasses were still fogging up. So, I tried one more design and this one advertised itself as being able to meet all my mask-related needs.
And, yes, indeed it does! It fits my face, is comfortable, easy to put on and take off, and does not allow my glasses to fog up. The only negative I have found so far has to do with the climate. In Edmonton, we are experiencing temperatures below -10C every day. When I went for a walk wearing this mask my breath froze on the inside. The ice made it difficult to breath, and as soon as I took it off while in my car, the ice melted and I had a soggy mask. The solution, I have decided, is to carry spares.
That is easy to do because I bought a pack of ten, and they come individually wrapped. I can put one in my pocket and a couple more in my purse. After use, they can be hand-washed although the package says “Do not wash to use”. I have not tried putting them in the washing machine yet.
If my need for masks goes on for another year (yikes!) by then I expect the people who design them will have come up with the perfect design for everyone, everywhere. In the meantime, these will do nicely.