With the pandemic, there’s a whole new set of guidelines that have become the “new normal.” Keeping your distance from others. Routine washing of hands. Hand sanitizers around every turn. And, probably the most pervasive coronavirus prevention strategy of all: covering our faces.
While this is currently the new norm, there seem to be few normal things about it. Half or more of a person’s face is now obstructed, removing the ability to read lips or see smiles. But for now, while we’re all wearing material that obscures our features, how can we get around the barrier to communication that they pose?
The answer to seeing smiles again, right away: better options. We’ve rounded up some of the these that you can currently choose from.
While admittedly cyborg-esque, the Leaf option argues that it allows people to breathe five times more easily than they would with a traditional protector. The filter that’s built into the mask has 25 pleats in it, and fits into a cartridge on the chin. This filtration system is what allows easy breathing, and what the company calls an “advanced exhaust system.” It is, of course, a clear material – although it is not entirely clear. The filter takes up a small portion of the visual field on your face.
This mask is also self UV-C sterilizing, and comes with air quality monitoring. It comes in three different sizes to better fit all face shapes. When you get a Leaf, the price point is a little different than the few dollars you might have been paying for other cloth or disposable alternatives. The Leaf HEPA mask starts at $59 dollars, and filters are an additional cost.
The Jelli M1
Another clear, breathable option is the Jelli M1. This model was previously sold out, but is back in stock again, with a high demand. With a price point of $40 dollars compared to the other options, but with a highly specialized design, it makes sense that many people are trying to get their hands on one.
The anti-fogging surface treatment allows users to breathe comfortably while wearing it, so that you can still see smiles instead of a steamed up face shield. Other clear face masks have obstructions in areas like the chins or sides of the face. The Jelli mask remains transparent throughout the design. Where it meets the nose and the chin, the Jelli M1 features silicon rubber gasket support for the most comfortable fit there is.
Even more in the way of comfort, the design has vents below the chin and on the cheek. With this strategically placed venting system, the direct path of droplets is obscured, and makes for safe breathing. The mask also has adjustable straps, and is constructed out of food grade polycarbonate.
Clear N95 Respirators
Ford recently announced that it was going to get into the health and safety industry. Their idea for a design takes the traditional N95s, and turns them into a transparent version. This type of covering is largely designed to benefit health care workers, and give them a breathable option while allowing them to communicate more effectively because they can see patients’ lips.
These will be similarly shaped to the traditional N95 model. They will also be washable for reuse, and come equipped with anti-fog technology. Since they are going to become available in the spring and because Ford has been donating large amounts of PPE to healthcare workers, there isn’t an update on their cost. Their efforts could assist with the N95 shortage, but their patent is still pending N95 certification.
Ford is also working to create an air filtration kit that can be added to filtration systems that already exist. They will attach to filtration systems and reduce particle concentrations. They’re sort of like using a mask on an entire room at once.
One of the more simple designs, the ClearM is a disposable transparent design that can be purchased in bulk. The smallest quantity that can be purchased are twenty-four, for $87. Like most clear options, they are also anti-fog. These masks are manufactured both in the United States and abroad.
These transparent items are used for surgical purposes or for healthcare workers, but could be transitioned to the everyday person for wear. It was actually developed prior to the onset of the pandemic to provide equal opportunities for communication amongst patients who were coming in for surgeries that might be hard of hearing.
Our easy pick for the best clear face mask out there? The Jelli M1 wins for its comfort, breathability, and price point. It’s sturdier and more substantial than a cloth mask, but allows for more comfort than a piece of equipment comparable to the Leaf. Plus, it comes in three fun colors – if you have to wear a face covering, as long as it’s comfortable, might as well make it stylish. And you might as well make it so people can see you smiling.