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Behind the Mask

Everything you need to know about South Carolina’s latest trend – Masks

Story by Michaela Satterfield

This is one fashion fad no one saw coming. Masks are the new practical accessory needed to complete every outfit, as Hilton Head and Bluffton currently have laws for wearing them in commercial establishments through the end of August. Their main function is simply protecting others from your respiratory droplets, which could carry the coronavirus. Respiratory droplets can be spread through talking, singing, sneezing or coughing, so you’re going to need a mask to keep doing those things. Even if you don’t currently feel sick, there’s still a chance you’re carrying the virus. Some people are asymptomatic, meaning they have the virus but don’t experience symptoms. Others are pre-symptomatic, meaning they have the virus but aren’t experiencing symptoms yet. To protect others, you’ll need to wash your hands, practice social distancing and sport a mask. The good news is, you won’t have to worry so much about saying it instead of spraying it. Keep reading for the ins and outs of wearing masks.

Material matters

The CDC recommends cloth face masks for the general public. They aren’t regulated like the papery surgical masks, but they still accomplish the goal of protecting others from respiratory droplets. Some cloth face masks have filters. Everything from vacuum bags to coffee filters have been used as mask filters, which can be sewn into the masks. However, there is no scientific evidence these filters add additional protection, so the CDC doesn’t mention them in its face-covering guidelines. Disposable surgical masks are fluid resistant. They feel papery, but actually consist of three layers of extremely thin, nonwoven fabric. These masks should only be worn one time before being replaced and cannot be washed. They are regulated by the FDA and are sometimes used by health care workers. Another type of mask is the N95 respirator, but these should be saved for medical professionals, as the other mask types are not sufficient replacements.

These colorful face masks were handcrafted locally by Debbie Lowman. They’re reversible, double-lined, four layer, triple pleated and washable. They’re fun, too. Get one at The Spirited Hand gift gallery in Bluffton.

Where to buy them

Many of your favorite local stores now offer masks, so pick one up while you’re out shopping. Outside Hilton Head and Coastal Treasures both sell them. At S.M. Bradford Co. you’ll find Lilly Pulitzer masks, but they sell out quickly. New masks are on order and could be here any day at the Southern Tide Signature Store and Cocoon, as well. Shop! sells masks made with organic fabric and offers standard and adjustable sizes in various patterns. Find reversible cotton masks at The Spirited Hand. Gifted sells masks for adults and kids, some of which are made of the same material as bathing suits, meaning they’re extra soft and dry quickly.

Make your own

Making your own mask isn’t as hard as it sounds. All you’ll need is some fabric – an old t-shirt, bandana, hand towel or scarf will do. Grab some rubber bands or hair ties. Lay the rectangle of fabric down and fold it, horizontally, into about a three-inch strip. Place the elastic bands around the fabric on each end, about six inches apart. Fold the ends of the fabric over the elastic bands. Finally, grab the elastic bands and place them around your ears. The CDC has a video on YouTube that demonstrates the steps. If you’re skilled with a sewing machine or needle and thread, there are sewn mask templates online as well.

How to wear them

First things first – wash your hands before putting on the mask. It should be secured under your chin and fit snugly against the sides of your face. The mask shouldn’t be on your neck. Make sure it’s covering both your nose and mouth. If the mask fits right, you should still be able to breathe easily. If you touch the mask after you put it on, you’ll need to wash those hands again.

Mask care 101

Masks should be washed after each use. When it’s time to wash, carefully remove the mask by only touching the ear loops or ties. Wash your hands after removing. You can simply throw it in the washing machine and dryer with your clothes in a normal load. It’s ideal to use the warmest water possible and the highest heat setting on the dryer. Wait until the mask is completely dry before taking it out of the dryer. An alternative is to hand wash and air dry your mask. The CDC recommends making a bleach solution by mixing four teaspoons of bleach with a quart of room-temperature water. The bleach should be intended for household use and suitable for disinfection. Soak the mask for five minutes, then rinse thoroughly with cool water. Lay the mask flat, in direct sunlight if possible, to air dry it. You might want to keep a few masks on hand so you don’t have to wash yours every day.

Need skin help?

If all of this mask wearing has your skin looking like it did back in your teenage years, Lumen has you covered. Find a full line of Lumen products (cleanser, hydrating mask, clarifying clay mask, advance gel, clarifying pads and exfoliate) at LUX ~ A Medical Spa