Beards And Masks
I've already written a couple of times about masks. One of the early assumptions about masks was how ineffective they become with facial hair. This holds true for respirator style masks. However, as we've learned to cope with our pandemic lives, we've learned respirator style masks are not what you need to help keep the spread of disease down. Surgical style masks, even those made of cloth, are the desired style of mask. I already wrote about this in my last blog about this.
In the early days of the pandemic, I shaved my beard off and wore a respirator style mask. I've learned with the rest of the world the right way to fight this problem and have since switched to washable cloth masks. I have also grown my beard back.
But if beards are bad for respirator style masks, why are they okay for other masks?
The style of mask recommended is designed to limit the expulsion of aerosolized fluids from your face. It doesn't stop the fluids from leaving, but it significantly slows the projection of those fluids, limiting their transmission to people around you. Essentially, the majority of those fluids are either trapped in your mask or falls on your body in some manner.
A seal on your face is not required for this to happen. Facial hair can actually contribute to the function of the mask by providing additional air flow paths which particles can still get trapped on, contributing to the reduction of projection of fluids. I'm not saying beards are better, nor that they improve the function of masks. Rather, there's not really anything that says they make them worse.
The one thing I've noticed wearing a mask with a beard is it does make my face a little itchy. It could be that my beard is still growing back to its former glory. Still, I wear a mask.
If you're not wearing a mask because you were told your beard makes it ineffective, then I hope this changes your perspective. We really need to work on helping each other. So if you are a facial hair endowed man, wear a mask. Even if the reduction of projected fluids is less than those with smooth faces, any reduction is useful.