If the hottest accessory of 2020 is the face mask, the plastic face shield comes in at a close second. You know, for when you want to mix up your daily PPE look.
Before you stock up, there are a few key differences between these two types of face coverings that you should know about. First, unlike a cloth face mask, a face shield can help protect your entire face (including your eyes) from the spread of COVID-19. And even though one doctor has likened them to dog cones, face shields can be more comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, like if you’re working a long shift at a retail store or restaurant. Tons of celebrities, from Jennifer Lawrence to Jennifer Aniston, have even been spotted wearing a neck-mounted model called the ZVerse ZShield Wrap shield while on set (that’s Jennifer Lawrence shooting Don’t Look Up in Boston at the top of this story).
While face shields can protect you, the CDC makes it clear that they may not be as effective at protecting others — the traditional design has gaps on the sides of and below the face, which is how respiratory droplets can escape and potentially reach people around you. Masks, meanwhile, help prevent the wearer from transmitting the virus by absorbing those respiratory droplets and blocking them from traveling into the air around them.
So your best bet is to use face shields as an extra layer of protection. Choose yours carefully with these recommendations from the CDC:
- Look for a high-quality face shield that wraps around the sides of your face and extends below your chin or a hooded face shield — see the fun-looking hoodie we found on Etsy below. These shield styles appear to be more effective at preventing the spray of respiratory droplets.
- Wash your hands before and after removing your shield, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth when removing it. (You should be doing this anyway.)
- Clean and disinfect reusable face shields according to the manufacturer’s instructions or by following the CDC’s instructions. Do not reuse a disposable face shield, even if you’re in a pinch — wear it once and then throw it away.
Keep reading for our top recommendations of protective face shields.
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the World Health Organization website.
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