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Are fashionable face masks safe?

As face masks have become a necessity, fashionable face coverings are becoming a growing trend, but a medical expert said the thicker the material, the better.

SAN DIEGO — For a mask that's on trend, it's move over N95, and hello prints and color, but what about getting a mask that's cute, but not keeping you from getting coronavirus?

"You have to ask yourself - will it decrease my risk?,” said Dr. Jyotu Sandhu in Family Medicine at Sharp Rees-Stealy.

When shopping for face masks, fashion can sometimes take over, whether scrolling through long bandana coverings - to a fancy golden face mask for $139 worn as a sequin veil - the trends are limitless, but are they safe?

"We say any mask is better than no mask. Of course, N95 masks, they have more protection to protect against viral particles,” Sandhu said.

Sandhu stressed the more lining a cloth face covering has, the better for coronavirus prevention. So, masks made of out loose materials, like fringe or blue sequins from head to nose, or lace face masks might not cut it. One white lace mask on sale for $40 gave a disclaimer that "this is not a medical mask. The purpose of this mask is to prevent you from touching your face regularly."

"No matter what mask you have, there's going to be a certain amount of viral particles if someone is positive that's going to get through,” Sandhu said.

That's not stopping face mask wearers from wanting to be cute as a peacock or covered in pearls.  

Can it hurt if gold chains are hanging from your mask? Or what about arts and crafts overload with lace and Barbies? Or hair barrettes or gem stones and Legos on your face to even some looking like medieval bedazzled helmets?

When it comes to something that is too thin or maybe it's not providing much protection, and we're only just focusing on the fashion, I think that's probably not going to be as beneficial,” Sandhu said.

So don't skip out on your face covering fabric. Some are going to the elegant extreme of matching masks head-to-toe, even with evening gowns and wedding dresses. Men are getting in on the trend too, adding masks to the new three-piece suit. Overall, the style is changing the way we put our best face forward during a pandemic.

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