Mask braces are now advised for extra protection against Covid-19

A brace can make your face cover nearly as effective as a surgical mask, according to a new study.

BARRY, WALES - OCTOBER 01: A woman smiles while wearing a novelty face mask in a shop on October 1, 2020 in Barry, Wales. Six more people have died in Wales after testing positive for Covid-19, the most reported in a single day since July 2. Public Health Wales (PHW) also confirmed there were 398 new lab-confirmed positive cases of coronavirus for Thursday, October 1. The highest figure so far during the second wave. More cases were only reported once before on April 10. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

We've all experienced it at some point during the pandemic, that pesky feeling of a mask that doesn't feel quite right. 

From slipping off our faces to pinching at our ears, a good-fitting mask can be as hard to come by as a snug pair of jeans. But with masks scientifically proven to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, there's no excuse for improper use. 

It should come as no surprise that mask braces are recommended to get the most protection out of our face coverings. 

Research has shown that applying a brace or "fitter" to your mask can significantly enhance its effectiveness, upping its strength to almost that of an N95 or a gold standard medical face mask. 

Simply put, the brace locks the mask in place, sealing off any gaps through which air could escape. While store-bought masks are typically produced in a standard size, a brace enables the wearer to adjust the cover to fit their face. 

"These reusable devices help improve the fit of a cloth or a medical mask by creating a tight fit,” said Dr. John Brooks, a medical epidemiologist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

“Fitters have been scientifically demonstrated to improve filtration performance by as much as 90% or more, which, again, is getting into that range of filtration efficiency afforded by N95 respirators.” 

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What exactly does a mask brace look like? Fix the Mask, a startup company based in California has developed the first commercially available mask fitter. Made from a single piece of biocompatible silicone, they come in a range of sizes and feature adjustable straps to ensure the perfect fit. 

Tightening your mask's earloops with elastic bands could also achieve a similar effect. 

So whether you purchase a brace online or opt for the DIY route, make sure your mask is always fitted securely on your face for the safety of you and others. 

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.