While I’ve adapted to the worst parts of wearing a face mask—a perpetually sweaty face and the subsequent maskne—there’s just one small thing I can’t seem to get past: the smell. Whether it’s the stench of my own coffee breath or food odors absorbed deep into the cotton, a scent assaults my nostrils every time I wear my cloth mask.
It’s not that I don’t routinely wash my face covering, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but rather that I have an extremely sensitive nose. My keen sense of smell picks up even the faintest scents, good or bad. That means even if I wear my mask for just one errand in public for less than 15 minutes, it becomes soiled to my nose. Although I’ll wear it again for another quick trip outside, I do it begrudgingly.
I could wash my mask every single night—as previously suggested to Health by infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, MD—but I’m lazy. I don’t want to add yet another sanitizing step into my routine. That’s why I was overjoyed to discover the Enfusia Cloth Mask Refresher Spray (3 for $20; amazon.com). It combines water, alcohol, and 6 essential oils into a powerful deodorizer that dispels stink.
When the 65-milliliter bottle sample from the brand arrived at my home, it smelled like a spa. Luxurious notes of eucalyptus, peppermint, and lavender were noticeable from the first spritz, though the concoction also contains rosemary and tea tree oil.
If this blend of essential oils seems recognizable, it should. They were picked for their sinus-clearing properties: Eucalyptus has a menthol aroma and is a known expectorant, while tea tree, rosemary, and lavender are antibacterial additions. That’s why Enfusia also markets the spray as a way to ease breathing. And while I’ve never struggled to inhale or exhale in my cotton mask, it definitely made the experience of wearing one more pleasant.
In fact, I was delightfully surprised the first time I used the refresher spray and discovered the strongest scent was really spearmint. The treatment made it seem like I had just brushed my teeth despite chugging coffee only minutes before—and the fresh smell stuck with me even when navigating past pooping puppies and street meat carts.
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