In the Before Times, you just needed to check that you had your keys and wallet to head out of the house. During the past year, yet another essential item has been added to your out-the-door routine — your mask. But no matter how many cute (and medically effective) masks you've added to your collection, there are always those one or two that are adorable but just don't quite fit. When you want to make sure your accidentally large Sailor Moon mask actually stays on the right way, you've got to figure out how to make a big mask fit your face better.
Ensuring that your mask fits right isn't just about making sure you're comfortable while you're going about your pandemic day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found cinching your mask to help it conform to your face can help reduce exposure for you and the masked people around you by as much as 95%. The CDC says that you can also achieve this boost in mask safety by double-masking, AKA wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask.
Who better to ask about getting your mask to stay on right than someone who's been wearing masks for their job since before COVID? Dr. Olivia Cui, DMD, is a dentist with a lot of practice making sure her surgical mask fits when treating patients. Her TikTok takes you through exactly how to make a loose-fitting mask fit just right.
Before you do anything, Dr. Cui reminds TikTok viewers, wash your hands. It doesn't matter how snugly your mask fits if your hands aren't clean and free of COVID (not to mention other germs) before you put it on. Once your hands are clean, do the following:
- Fold your mask in half horizontally (in landscape orientation, if you're a printer-paper person).
- Tie a knot in the ear loops as close as possible to the corners of your mask.
- Open the mask back up.
- Tuck the little open pockets on the sides into the ear loop knots so they're closed off.
- Enjoy your better-fitting mask.
Though Dr. Cui's advice is specifically catered to surgical masks, following the same hack will work for your cloth masks that are too big, as well.
The loose feel doesn't bother you? Remember that it's not the same as not minding a baggy pair of jeans — making sure your mask fits properly is a safety issue, too. If it doesn't fit right, it's likely to slip down below your nose and let lots of exposure to outside air on the sides of your face. So venture forth and put this face mask hack to good use for comfort, style, and safety.