Masks have become such a part of our lives that, if you’re like me, you’re even coordinating yours with your outfit. But what if your face mask doesn’t fit quite right? Thankfully, there’s an internet hack for that.
Face masks are one of the few saving graces as we try to get control of this virus. As a refresher, the new coronavirus mostly spreads through respiratory droplets that come out when we talk, sneeze, sing, and do pretty much anything else with our noses and mouths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). So wearing a mask is actually one of the best things you can do to control the spread of the virus.
And, to make sure your mask is as effective as possible, it’s crucial that your face mask actually fits your face properly, SELF explained previously. Unfortunately, many people find that their face masks—especially those surgical-style ones—leave too much room around the sides of their faces. That’s why Olivia Cuid, M.D., a dentist from Montreal, Canada, took to social media site TikTok to show the world a surgical face mask hack for a better fit. (She demonstrated on a surgical mask, but this hack will also work on cloth masks with ear loops.)
Why is this important? Well, with loose surgical-style masks especially, “the sides of your face are left very exposed to the outside,” Dr. Cuid says in the video, which can potentially make it easier for droplets to escape.
Here’s Dr. Cuid’s quick step-by-step guide on how to make a loose-fitting mask fit better:
Wash your hands!
Fold the mask in half lengthwise.
Take the loops on either side and tie a knot close to the corners of your mask.
Open the mask back up, and tuck in the openings on the sides underneath the ear loops.
Put your mask back on and make sure it’s fitted to your face.
Medical-grade surgical masks like the one Dr. Cuid demonstrated on are actually one of the best when it comes to preventing the spread of the coronavirus, according to a new study in Science Advances that measured the effectiveness of 14 different types of masks. They may seem flimsy but are designed precisely to reduce the transmission of droplets like these, SELF reported previously. So, even though they may not be the most stylish, they can get the job done.
However, masks like these are still best saved for people in medical professions, the CDC says. So, the rest of us should rely on similarly-structured cloth masks made from multiple layers of fabrics like cotton. And don’t worry, having a more snug-fitting mask won’t harm your health. In fact, masks are safe and, as SELF previously reported, it’s not true that they will cut off your oxygen or make you breathe in carbon dioxide. Again, a mask is actually most effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19 when it fits snugly yet comfortably against your face.
Previously, Dr. Cuid used her TikTok videos to share other helpful mask tips, such as how to wear a mask without fogging up your glasses and how to keep your mask from irritating your ears. We know that masks aren’t perfect, but thanks to innovative doctors like Dr. Cuid, wearing them is a little easier.