Although the practice isn't recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it's become an increasingly common guideline among experts including Anthony Fauci, MD, White House advisor and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
"If you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective," Dr. Fauci told NBC's Today show last week. "That's the reason why you see people either double-masking or doing a version of an N95."
The logic behind multiple masks is that wearing two low-filtration masks, like a cloth or surgical design, can bring you closer to the level of protection provided by high-filtration masks like N95s or Kf94s, the version imported from Korea. While a high-filtration mask is always preferred, double-masking is the next best thing, according to Prabhjot Singh MD, PhD, Chief Medical & Scientific Advisor of CV19 CheckUp.
"The way I explain it to my family is that we wear a coat when it's cold outside, but if it's really cold, you need to wear more layers or buy a better coat," Dr. Singh tells Health. "Bottom line: Wearing a 'hi-fi' mask should be the new normal—and double mask if you're still trying to get your hands on one or until prices go down for everyday use."
Of course, it's important to remember that fit is just as important as filtration. Wearing two masks should never cause gaping along the nose, chin, or cheeks. So even though wearing two surgical masks offers better protection than wearing one, according to Dr. Singh, it often leads to poor fit. As a result, he recommends either wearing two tightly woven cloth masks or, even better, a surgical mask with a cloth one.
The most common method for double-masking is pairing a cloth covering with a disposable face mask. And while many of us have already found the perfect reusable face covering, we're still searching for the best disposable option to layer underneath. Luckily, other shoppers have us covered with their selection of the 9 best disposable face masks to shop online.
From J.Lo to Ariana Grande, all your favorite celebs keep sporting these disposable masks from Evolvetogether—and it’s not just because of the brand’s chic colorways. The 3-layer masks are medically certified by SGS (a leading testing, inspection, and certification company) with particle filtration efficiency up to 95%. Lightweight and soft to the touch, the masks have water-resistant exteriors and water-absorbing interiors for durability. Plus, they’re made with elastic ear loops and nose wires for maximum comfort.
N95 masks are the most effective form of protection against COVID-19, but they should be reserved for medical workers. The next best option for regular shoppers are KN95 masks imported from China. Authorized for emergency use by the FDA, the masks offer the same level of protection against particles as an N95—and WWDoll Face Masks are Amazon’s top pick. Already a favorite of more than 4,000 shoppers, the masks provide 5 layers of protection, adjustable and nose clips.
Between ill-fitting designs that overwhelm their faces and boring color palettes, it can be difficult to convince your kid to wear a mask. But this top-rated design fixes both of these issues with child-sized masks printed with fun designs like hearts and stars. Parents reviewed the masks, calling them “perfect for elementary school children” and “great for wearing to school.” Although a few early reviewers wrote the elastic ear straps easily snapped, recent reviewers say the issue seems to be resolved.
Reusable cloth face masks are the easiest way to reduce waste, but are less conducive to double-layering. That’s why Vida created a sustainability program to help recycle its masks. Simply reuse the pre-paid packing slip to send back for recycling any used masks—and there will be quite a few if the positive reviews for the 5-layer mask are any indication.
Individually packaged masks make it easy to hygienically store spare face coverings in your purse, car, or office without a face mask case—and WeCare is Amazon’s top-rated option for with more than 4,300 perfect ratings. Available in black and white, each box arrives with 50 3-layer masks sealed in plastic bags.
These protective face masks are made with five layers of hypoallergenic non-woven fabric that’s non-toxic and moisture-resistant. The result is a skin-friendly mask that shoppers with sensitive skin can’t stop raving about. Along with comfort-focused features like elastic ear loops and an adjustable nose wire, the mask also comes with a face mask extender to prevent behind-the-ear irritation.
It’s possible to stay stylish and safe with the help of Maskc’s trendy face masks. Its lineup includes tons of fun prints and colorways that prove a good face covering can be the ultimate accessory. But you don’t have to take our words for it: Celebs like J.Lo and even Vice President Kamala Harris are fans of the brand’s 3-layer face disposable masks.
More than 30,000 shoppers have given these disposable masks a perfect rating, boosting them into the number-one spot on Amazon’s list of best-selling safety masks. Each box comes with 50 black disposable masks with three layers of protection and elastic ear loops, as well as an adjustable nose wire.
The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it's possible that some data have changed since publication. While Health is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDC, WHO, and their local public health department as resources.
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