Unless you wear a face mask for work, starting to wear one feels alien. Some people will feel self-conscious, others will feel physically uncomfortable, and for a variety of different reasons there will be groups of people who try to avoid wearing them for as long as they can.
At the N95 Mask Co, we consider it our job to understand people’s behaviour when it comes to choosing to wear a face mask, or not. By understanding the physical and psychological barriers to mask-wearing, we can equip ourselves with expert advice, physical solutions or innovations, and evidence that we hope encourage more people to wear a mask in the interest of reducing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
In early May 2020 we commissioned consumer research asking 2,000 adults in the UK if they intend to wear a face mask to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The results weren’t surprising - the majority (60%) said they do intend to wear face masks. Great - that’s reassuring. What was extremely insightful, was the rationale shared by those who said they do not intend to wear a face mask unless it becomes a mandatory requirement.
The reasons people gave for not wearing a face mask spanned physical barriers, such as face masks being uncomfortable, or not wanting to remove facial hair, right through to political - because the government isn't offering to pay for them. The most common reasons for avoiding masks were:
- They don’t provide much protection
- They are difficult to get hold of
- They make it difficult to breathe
- They are uncomfortable
- They make my glasses steam up
We have considerd each barrier, and can share some interesting insights, solutions and evidence below. If you know someone who isn’t planning to wear a mask for any of these reasons, be sure to share this blog with them.
FACE MASKS DON’T PROVIDE MUCH PROTECTION
Using face masks as a precautionary measure has sparked global debate and, until recently, scientists and epidimiologists were split down the middle on the evidence for their effectiveness. On 4th May 2020, the multi-disciplinary experts known as the Data Evaluation and Learning for Viral Epidemics Group (DELVE) published a paper to confirm the important role that face masks play in tackling Covid-19.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDP) recommends the use of medical face masks (N95) to reduce potential pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19 from the mask wearer to others in closed spaces such as shops and public transport.
Our N95 face masks are CE-approved and meet European Standard EN149:2001. They offer level two facepiece filtration protection (FFP2) and will block 95% of all airborne particles - our masks meet the guidelines from The World Health Organisation for protection against Covid-19.
FACE MASKS ARE DIFFICULT TO GET HOLD OF
That’s what we assumed after seeing all the media coverage on the lack of PPE on the front line. It’s only natural to assume there’s a national, or even global, shortage. The positive news is that there isn’t a shortage of face masks in the world today - the global marketplace has just become so much harder to navigate for large Government offices whose staff are used to following procurement procedures that take time and won’t allow for quick decision making. This article brings the situation to life. Like other UK face mask sellers, we have offered our support to source and supply masks to the UK Government in the interest of stopping the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
FACE MASKS MAKE IT DIFFICULT TO BREATHE
There are physical limitations of wearing a face mask, that’s for sure. As humans we are not designed to wear masks, so it feels strange to wear one at all. When you first put on a face mask you might find that you become more aware of your breathing. Many face masks available online are made from different types of cloth materials that are not as breathable as the N95 face masks. The reason for this is the structure and the material used. The N95 face mask is made from a special breathable material and it leaves ample space between the nose / mouth and the mask, promoting easier breathing and also making communication easier. The best thing to do is try a few different types of masks against the N95 and you’ll feel the difference.
FACE MASKS ARE UNCOMFORTABLE
Depending on the type of face mask you choose to wear, the level of comfort varies greatly. Our N95 face masks have loops that fit around each ear, which are positioned with comfort in mind. When you first put on the mask, it may feel odd, but that feeling subsides pretty quickly.
For anyone who finds the loops uncomfortable behind their ears, we are one step ahead. From mid-May we will also be selling ear savers, which enable wearers to connect the mask at the back of the head instead, completely bypassing the ears!
FACE MASKS MAKE MY GLASSES STEAM UP
This has been reported as a major issue for healthcare workers, but don’t worry because there is good news. We have found some great tutorials on how to stop your glasses from steaming up when wearing an N95 mask. The main advice is to use soap and water to clean your glasses, before drying them in your normal way. Here’s one of the best videos we have watched so far.
Our intention in preparing and sharing this blog was to help anyone struggling with the barriers to wearing a mask. As a nation we all need to do everything in our power to protect ourselves and others. If you think this blog may help others you know, please be sure to share it.