Fancy masks are not always effective; US-based study

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Fancy Facial Masks
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Masks are the new fashion accessories. From prints to studded with diamonds, the latest designs in masks are making a wave.

The masks with superhero designs and others inspired by comic strips and movie themes are very popular, especially among children.

But doctors are warning people to be careful when you choose these pretty masks as most of them do very little to protect you from the germs and viruses. Medical experts are urging people to ensure that they are “effective at suppressing transmission”.


  • Choose masks that are thicker and that have more densely woven fabrics with a high thread count over those made with materials that appear transparent when held up to the light, or masks fashioned from loose-fitting bandannas
  • The masks that have fewer tiny holes when held up to light are more capable of filtering droplets.
  • “Health, safety and functionality” should be your priority when opting for a mask.
  • Prefer more durable, reusable and effective cloth masks so that we can avoid the surgical mask shortage that is likely to happen globally.
  • If you are visiting a hospital in unavoidable circumstances you are recommended to wear a surgical mask.

Not always at its best

A recent study by the US-based Wake Forest Center for Regenerative Medicine found the effectiveness of cloth masks varied widely. Research teams investigated which household materials “best-removed particles of 0.3 to 1.0 microns in diameter”, the size of many viruses and bacteria. The best-performing prototypes were made of double-layered vacuum cleaner bags and cotton heavyweight quilter-with a thread count of 180 or more.

The multilayered mask with a “basic outer layer of cotton and an inner layer of flannel” also performed relatively well. The least effective masks were low quality, lightweight cotton, single-layered or double-layered designs.

Social Distancing 

Though masks are no substitute for social distancing particularly in areas with high transmission, it can definitely reduce the risk of transmission to a great extent. But don’t disregard the importance of social distancing just because you are wearing masks.

Governments and health agencies across the world continue to advise wearing face masks to help reduce the risk of COVID-19’s pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic spread.