Could Face Mask Coverings Be Less Effective For People With Facial Hair? Maybe, Experts Say

There May Be a Good Reason For Men to Shave Their Beards Amid Coronavirus Concerns

On a good day, facial hair can spark a lot of debates. (Just look at how the internet blew up when Cole Sprouse shared his social-distancing mustache with the world.) To shave or not to shave is often a conversation, but no matter where you stand on the beard, mustache, or clean shaven debate, it’s worth revisiting during the pandemic. According to two experts, a barbershop owner and a dermatologist, there might be a good reason for some men to shave their beards during the coronavirus. (Clean-shaven supporters, don’t rejoice just yet.)

The reason: your face covering, which is currently recommended to be worn in public by the CDC, could be rendered less effective if you have facial hair — but it depends on the type of mask you’re wearing. “Specifically for N-95 masks, which require achieving an adequate seal between the mask and the face, hair growth between the skin and the face piece will impede the sealing surface, compromising its efficacy,” board-certified dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD, told POPSUGAR.

So, does this mean you should go shaving your social-distancing beard immediately? Not unless you’re wearing an N-95 mask to protect yourself. “If you’re a healthcare worker or a frontline worker who is wearing an N-95 mask, I would recommend shaving your beard to ensure that the mask is as effective as possible,” Dr. Engelman said. “But most hospitals and healthcare offices have policies in place regarding facial hair already.”


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