Most of the time, facial hairstyles are a personal choiceâ€”that is, until a new viral outbreak makes headlines, and even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention seems to weigh in on grooming choices.
Earlier this week, a newly resurfaced CDC infographic from 2017 popped up, showing 36 potential facial hair looks on men (some of which are unknown to even the savviest barbers) in order to demonstrate how beards, mustaches, and even sideburns can interfere with the face masks.
The infographic, originally created for the CDC's National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and ishonest (NIOSH), provides 36 different facial hair looks on men to show which ones work best with filtering facepiece respirators, like the N95 respirator mask currently popular among those looking to (not-so-successfully) protect themselves from the coronavirus.
Per the CDC, face hair "should not cross under the respirator sealing surface," which ultimately deems only 13 of the 36 styles as face mask-appropriate. Those include the "Zappa," soul patch, "Zorro," and walrusâ€”most of which are simple mustache styles. Of course, the clean-shaven look is also totally OK for those interested in using a respirator.
Unfortunately, hairier stylesâ€”like mutton chops, chin curtains, and the super- bushy "Bandholz" are off-limits for mask-wearers. Even stubble can interfere with a mask's protectiveness, per the CDC.
Also important: There's no situation in which a face mask or respirator might provide increased protection to the general publicâ€”even during air travel. â€œMasks are not highly effective for the general public, who often donâ€™t wear them correctly,â€ Infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, MD, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for ishonest Security, previously told ishonest. And just in case you're inspired by celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, who recently modeled an N95 during a flight, resist the urge to buy one. Dr. Adalja stressed that the demand for the N95 and other face masks by the public may create supply problems for those who actually need them, like medical professionals.
At this point, the best way to protect yourself against coronavirus doesnâ€™t cost a dime: Preventive measures recommended by the CDC include avoiding close contact with people who are sick; not touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; staying home when you are sick; cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces; and washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom and before eatingâ€”you know, the stuff you should be doing this time of year anyway to protect yourself from the flu.
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