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How To Make A Face Mask And When To Wear Them

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The CDC now recommends all Americans wear face coverings when leaving the house. These cloth masks are not the same as the medical-grade N95 and surgical masks reserved for health care professionals, but they can still help prevent viral transmission. Thankfully, there is an abundance of DIY tutorials online showing how to make a face mask, and also a surge in the number of fashion brands producing their own, leaving the average consumer with plenty of ways to embrace the new guideline.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, many brands have struggled with a desire to harness their production capabilities, but an inability to manufacture masks that meet the rigorous standards required for health care workers to be adequately protected. (If you happen to have an N95, you can donate it to a medical professional in need here.) With this new CDC recommendation, these brands are now able to generate non-medical masks for citizens to wear while social distancing, as a means of limiting the spread of droplets that can cause contamination even when the individual is asymptomatic. The benefits of the coverings are twofold.

According to Dr. Elizabeth Floyd, M.D., of Otolaryngology & Facial Plastics Center of Great Neck, coverings both "catch any secretions from your nose or mouth, which helps prevent you from infecting others by spraying droplets, while also partially filtering any droplets from others." Floyd notes, however, that "wearing a face covering is no replacement for social distancing, but it can help minimize exposure when you have to go outside." Since you're going to be seeing a lot more of these face coverings, they might as well be good to look at. Here, a few of the brands and DIY ideas to try, stat.

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The DIY T-Shirt Or Bandana DIY Face Mask

Per the CDC, if you're making your own mask, it's ideal to use a tightly woven cotton fabric. As such, the ubiquitous cotton bandana has been the most commonly used style in digital DIY videos. You'll need a piece of medium sized, tightly-woven fabric and two hair ties (you can also use elastic bands, strips of ribbon, or string) with which to fashion your ear straps. Above you can watch how it works, as demonstrated by the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams.

Kate Hudson showcased a version with a bandana that you can easily recreate with what you already own. Though a face mask is a preventative tool, remember that you can still get playful with your styling choices. Feel free to color-coordinate your ear straps with your fabric. Just be sure to wash your covering on warm or hot after each use.

The Creative & Slightly More Complex Dust Bag DIY Face Mask

New York-based illustrator and influencer Jenny Walton took matters into her own hands by utilizing a densely woven dust bag to create her fashion-forward style. "I made my own mask because surgical masks are in short supply (not to mention nearly impossible to get) and should be reserved for medical workers," explains Walton, who also donated a number of her handmade masks via @Masks4Medicine. While it requires a little more handiwork, if you have a sewing machine handy, or are patient, you may want to give it a go. Her full tutorial is in her story highlights on Instagram.

The Store-Bought Style DIY Face Masks

If you're feeling less crafty, or just can't get your hands on the necessary supplies, there are plenty of brands offering styles for purchase — many of which are already generating styles for health care workers or donating proceeds to various charities helping to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. Some brands like NYC's Collina Strada are donating masks to health care providers in need and offering free face masks to customers with any purchase of product. "I wanted to create something with fabric that was left over at the studio while all of our studio employees were working at home," explains Collina Strada designer Hillary Taymour, who was inspired by Coperni's Instagram tutorial. Reformation is harnessing their LA production facility to generate non-medical grade masks, offering some for sale and donation on their site as well as supplying them to essential workers through the LA Protects program. Monogram, another LA-based company founded by industry alums Lisa Mayock and Jeff Halmos, is producing 100% cotton jersey masks for sale on their site, and donating two for every pair purchased.

Many other designers, such as Marina Moscone in New York, Johnny Was in LA, and Kendra Scott in Austin are utilizing their resources to generate masks for essential workers. Marina Moscone even orchestrated a contact-free production line with her employees to generate medical-grade masks. "Using specially made production kits, our remote seamstresses are making ASTM Level 1 surgical masks," she says, all of which are being delivered to Mount Sinai and Bellevue Hospitals in NYC.

Over the coming weeks, many more brands are working to meet the demand for face coverings for the average consumer. Watch this space and in the meantime, shop these styles.

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support.