Mind your mustache!
The CDC has some suggestions about facial hair and respiratory protection, illustrated in a chart that was released in No Shave November/Movember and has resurfaced following the CDC’s warning that we should prepare for a COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S.
The bottom line is, masks and respirators are being used worldwide as a line of defense against the novel coronavirus, but the amount and type of facial hair you have can interfere with the mask’s effectiveness. The way these masks work is by sealing off your face so that yucky particles and pathogens are filtered out. Facial hair can’t act as a filter because it’s not dense enough. The CDC’s research has shown that the presence of facial hair under the sealing surface of a mask causes 20-1,000 times more leakage compared to clean-shaven individuals.
But fear not, hirsute friends. The CDC’s nifty infographic is here to help (click here for a larger view). Whiskers, handlebar mustaches, and soul patches? Go forth. Goatees, villain ‘staches, and horseshoes? Rock them with caution (i.e., make sure hair doesn’t cross the respirator seal). Meanwhile, stubble, mutton chops, and full beards, including the bushy “Bandholz,” favored by hipsters everywhere? Nope. These styles, along with the Van Dyke, the French Fork, and the Dali, are not recommended because they can interfere with the efficiency of a mask. (Side note: the “Fu Manchu”? Really, CDC?)
And Nick Offerman can breathe easy. The Walrus is A-OK.