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The masked life

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It looks like we’ll be wearing face masks for a while, but it’s still taking some getting used to. Who else has forgotten they had a mask on when trying to eat an ice cream cone? Or almost passed out from inhaling their own coffee breath? Here are some tips for dealing with this year’s must-have accessory.

Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Tiffany DeBoer said masks are scientifically proven to slow the spread of COVID-19 and, in Alabama, are required until at least Oct. 2.

According to DeBoer, in order to be effective, a mask needs to cover a person’s nose, mouth and chin, and should fit snugly, leaving no gaps.

In addition, she said a mask should be thick enough to block water particles from traveling through it.

When it’s hot outside, DeBoer suggested wearing a mask in a light color, made of 100 percent cotton with at least two layers of fabric, and keeping an extra mask on hand in case the first one gets too sweaty.

DeBoer encouraged people to wash their faces every time after wearing a mask.

She said masks should be washed every day with soap or detergent and, preferably, hot water.

Mask acne

Some people have seen a troubling condition pop up as the result of wearing masks: face acne.

Wearing a mask for a prolonged period of time can irritate the skin on the face, according to John Hopkins Medicine.

Meleah Oglesby, a MaryKay sales director who trains others on how to do facials and makeovers, said she’s seen an increase in clients who complained of “maskne,” and she herself developed a few pimples during the pandemic.

“I never break out, and I actually had four pimples in one week,” Oglesby said.

She said she remedied that by using a wipe-off charcoal clay mask, which included ingredients such as navy beans, peppermint, honeysuckle and menthol, which cleared her face quickly.

She said using a cleansing brush when washing your face could help prevent maskne. “It actually gets your face four times cleaner than just using a rag,” Oglesby said.

Oglesby said it’s also important to wash your face every day and use a moisturizer best suited to your skin type.

She added that people can prevent makeup from getting onto their masks by using a foundation primer and finishing spray. “You’ve got to spray it pretty good,” she said.

Need some extra motivation?

The much-publicized rationale behind wearing a face mask is to protect others from your germs. A new study suggests the mask may protect you, too.

If you’re accidentally infected through the mask, the face coverings can still reduce your risk of falling seriously ill from COVID-19, according to a theory proposed by Dr. Monica Gandhi and Dr. George Rutherford, infectious disease specialists at UC San Francisco.

“Masks cut down the amount of viral particles flying around — so if you’re infected, you’ll get a lower dose and less severe symptoms,” said Rutherford. Their paper was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

It’s a provocative thought during this time of mask fatigue, as summer heat sends rivulets of sweat down our fabric-covered faces.

— The Mercury News

Mask vs. face shield vs. gaiter

Some people are wearing clear plastic face shields rather than face masks, but they may not be as effective as masks. A face shield is primarily used for eye protection, not to prevent the spread of germs. The Centers for Disease Control does not currently recommend the use of face shields as a substitute for masks.

If a face shield must be used, for better protection the CDC recommends a hooded face shield or one that wraps around the sides of the face and extends below the chin.

Other people are forgoing face masks for neck gaiters — tubes of fabric worn around the neck that can be pulled up to cover the nose and mouth. Neck gaiters can be as effective as cloth face masks at limiting the spread of germs — despite recent alarmist news reports to the contrary.

— Anniston Star staff