The Best Face Masks for an Australian Summer

The Best Face Masks for an Australian Summer
Image: Lei7 / iStock

This year’s must-have fashion accessory won’t be a bag, bangle or even a particular pair of shoes. It’ll be being seen out and about in a safe way with a summer face mask, but how do you do that when the weather’s heating up?

2020 has been a challenging year on lots of fronts, and in many ways while it’s been hard for most Australians, by world standards we’ve been exceptionally lucky in terms of the caseload and overall impact of COVID-19.

One of simplest ways we can keep that good luck going is by wearing face masks wherever it’s feasible and practical to do so. It’s a very simple way that we can protect everyone in the community, because one of the truly horrible aspects of this particular virus is that you could be spreading it to others without being aware that you’re doing so. Wearing a mask – even a simple one – can reduce the risk of harming others. If we all work together, then together, we’re all safer.

How does the weather affect mask wearing?

During winter and the colder months, wearing a face mask started to feel like second nature. After all, having fabric wrapped over your mouth and nose gave some respite from the colder weather.

But what happens as we move into our Aussie summer and the weather starts to warm up? Strapping a mask to our face for hours on end during 36 degree heat doesn’t sound too appealing, but we still have to play our part in keeping the community safe.

So how do you balance the needs of staying safe during a pandemic without feeling like you’ve got half a sheep strapped to your face? It all depends on the material of the face mask you’re using.

Which face masks are best for summer?

There’s a of couple different ways to approach the problem of a cooler and more comfortable mask than one that might suit you during winter.

Disposable face masks

Probably the easiest is to use actual disposable masks because they’re automatically made from lightweight materials, and they’re designed to be easy to take on and off, which is important as a comfort consideration.

The challenge there of course is that disposable face masks are by definition only intended for single use. Indeed, you absolutely should only use them once, because they’re simply not that robust and you’re doing yourself and others a huge disservice using a mask that’s no longer safe.

Cotton face masks

You could opt for a mask made from a lighter cotton, because that’ll naturally feel a bit nicer when the warm winds blow in. One of the bigger challenges there is that a lot of the lighter cotton commercial masks tend to use solid colour blocks – especially black – which isn’t an ideal summer colour in terms of heat absorption and comfort! Opt for masks with patterns or a lighter colour – not only will they keep you cool but they look great, too.

Moisture wicking face masks

Your other option would be a mask made with a moisture wicking fabric, because that’ll help out in sweatier weather. There’s more than a few options and styles to choose from:

It is worth remembering that if you do adopt a thinner and lighter mask, you’re also getting less in the way of overall coverage and protection, so it may be a good idea to consider a secondary filter layer if you can stand it, especially if you’re planning on spending a serious amount of time around a larger quantity of people.

If all else fails, and you can’t find a mask that you both like and find comfortable, you could always make your own summer face mask at home in your choice of lightweight materials.

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