How to Properly Wear a Face Mask

How to properly wear a disposable face mask so that it protects, not harms you? The answer to this question is not as simple as it might seem at first. As always, there are numerous opinions online and offline, and we gathered them together and tried to dot the i’s and cross the t’s.

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To Wear or Not to Wear

Back in February, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that only doctors and those who are sick should wear a face mask.

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Yet recently, based on the latest scientific research and the relevant experience of Asian countries proving the effectiveness of masks in containing the epidemic, WHO has revised its preliminary recommendations.

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The head of the organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, explained:

“In light of evolving evidence, WHO advises governments to encourage the general public to wear masks where there is widespread #COVID19 transmission and physical distancing is difficult, such as on public transport, in shops or in other confined or crowded environments.”

Such environments include schools, churches, mosques, and other places of worship.

A typical facial mask may not filter out the smallest virus-containing particles; however, it can protect against large drops. And for someone who is sick, it significantly reduces the distance by which they exhale the virus particles.

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On June 1, many countries started easing quarantine restrictions. Nevertheless, there remains a requirement to wear masks and gloves in public.

Even though the stores are reopening, the virus is still dangerous — my mask protects you, your mask protects me. If we are all scrupulous about wearing masks, it will slow down the spread of the virus and the risk of a second wave of the epidemic, protect our families, and help avoid the aggravation of the economic crisis.

How NOT to Wear a Mask

Incorrectly wearing a mask renders it useless and sometimes even harmful.

Below Your Nose

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First and foremost: the mask must protect both the mouth and nose. After all, the upper respiratory tract is the infection’s point of entry. It is pointless to cover your mouth diligently while exposing your nose.

It seems like a simple requirement, but look around: a good half of the people around us wear a mask below their noses.

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Furthermore, when we push the mask under the chin (to talk on the phone, for example), the inside of the mask may come into contact with the outside. Thus, the infection bypasses the filter and transmits onto the inner layer, and from there — into the nasopharyngeal mucosa.

Inside Out

Up until recently, few had to wear face masks. Therefore, it is not surprising that the process prompts questions and disagreements.

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WHO advises the public to wear the blue or colored side on the outside, and the white side — on the inside. Why? The blue side is waterproof, keeping droplets from others from penetrating into your mask. The white side is absorbent — if you cough, your droplets are trapped in your mask.

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So, one step at a time. Take a clean mask out of the package and set it parallel to your face, holding the straps. The top side is where the metal piece or stiff edge is.

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Place the mask on your face, covering your mouth, nose, and chin. Pinch the metal strip so that it moulds to the shape of your nose. Make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.

Wrong Removal

Imagine: at home, you thoroughly wash your hands and put on a mask. You go about your business, touching handrails on staircases, handles in buildings, restrooms, public transport. Then, you go to a store and unconsciously put your fingers under the mask or remove it altogether to scratch your nose, for example. Thus, all precautions go out the window.

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First, clean your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. Remove the mask from behind the ears or head by gently holding it by the straps and keeping it away from you. If you accidentally touch it, wash your hands again.

Longer Than Recommended

Replace an ordinary medical mask every two hours. In hot sunny weather, you need to do this even more often, approximately every 30 minutes (a mask that becomes saturated with moisture becomes unsafe). Never reuse a disposable face mask.

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Sprayed With Essential Oil or Alcohol

You can apply antiviral ointment on the nasal mucosa before putting on a mask. However, you cannot spray it with essential oils or alcohol, as inhaling those may prove harmful to your health.

Now you know how to properly wear a face mask. Remember: a medical mask alone cannot protect you. To stay safe, maintain physical distance, practice hand hygiene, and clean and disinfect surfaces. Stay safe and healthy!


I am an English major with a love of languages and fiction, and with an incurable travel bug. In my free time, I read fantasy, drink copious amounts of coffee, and like to go see movies. Culinary art means everything to me. My main hypostasis is the taster, though. The music school has taught me to appreciate the symphony of airy meringues, to create harmonious overtures of light snacks, hard rock of meat, fish, and vegetables on the grill. Choir classes have accustomed me to hear and feel the people nearby and create perfect harmonies of sounds.

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