I never minded the feeling of a mask against my lips until I wore one to the gym. Gasping for breath between the clean and the jerk, as one does, I kept involuntarily sucking cotton fabric into my mouth. Not fun.
Some masks, like the pricey-but-worth-it Under Armour, are built from stiff material to avoid this situation. But if you have a regular, flimsier mask, there’s a quick and cheap solution: the mask bracket. This is a soft silicone or plastic framework that fits under your mask. It doesn’t have any straps or clips of its own; the pressure of the mask holds it onto your face.
Mask brackets usually come in a multi-pack; three or five will cost about $15. (Here’s one of many Amazon listings; mine came in a package labelled “mask hack.”) You wear the bracket with the top resting on the bridge or tip of your nose and the bottom underneath your mouth. Some reviews say they stop eyeglasses fogging up, but that will depend on how closely it fits your face.
Runners and other cardio-loving folks were early adopters of mask brackets, because they keep fabric out of your mouth when you’re breathing heavily. But I’ve also seen them advertised as “lipstick protectors,” which makes sense as well. The bracket also helps to keep moisture away from the mask, which is handy if you find your masks tend to get soaked with sweat or with moisture from your breath.
The downside is that, with nothing against your face, you’ll really feel how sweaty your face is getting. When I waer a bracket or a structured mask while working out, I find I have to stop fairly often to quickly remove an earloop and wipe off my nose and mouth with a towel. If you do the same, treat that towel as if it’s full of germs — because it is — and stick it back in your gym bag instead of setting it down on a shared surface.
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