Do Face Masks Work With Beards

It’s a question we often see in bearded folks asking in Facebook groups. Do face masks work with beards?

Hopefully, we’re going to answer that question today! We even stole a little infographic from the CDC, I know, I know, The CDC is American and we’re Aussie! But that’s cool because luckily Americans are human just like us! So it’s hyper-relevant none the less.

So what does it take for a face mask to actually perform effectively and keep as much of that nasty Coronavirus out of our mouth and nose? Well in short you need an effective seal and shock horror! Your beard doesn’t allow for that to happen!

In saying that though, some facial hair is better than others when it comes to protecting those precious lungs of yours from COVID-19. That’s where our handy inforgraphic comes into play.

The good news is, that if you’re practicing proper social distancing, washing your hands often and not exposing yourself to others unnecessarily, you and your beard are unlikely to encounter the SARS-CoV-2 virus at all.

And remember Disposable face shields should only be worn for single use.” A recent Asthma Australia survey of 236 people found 69 per cent of those who had used a face mask before said it made it harder for them to breathe. (abc.net.au)

Another question we often get is Does facial hair collect more germs than a smooth face?

A 1967 study saw four volunteers’ beards or clean-shaven faces sprayed with a bacterial solution and swabs taken from their skin 30 minutes and six hours after, either with or without letting them wash their faces with soap. They found that while there were more bacteria on clean-shaven faces than on beards before washing, more bacteria were removed by washing a clean-shaven face compared to washing a beard. So even though the beards didn’t accumulate more bacteria than the face, they did retain it through the wash. 

A 2014 study reinforced the finding that facial hair doesn’t accumulate more bacteria than non-hairy facial skin. Researchers took swabs from the cheeks and upper lips of 199 healthcare workers who had facial hair and 209 who didn’t. The results showed that clean-shaved healthcare workers were actually more likely to harbour certain types of bacteria than their fur-faced coworkers. Similarly, a 2015 study of 118 mustachioed and 123 non-mustachioed men found that nasal S. aureus [a bacterium] carriage is similar in men with and without a moustache.” So even though beards may retain bacteria through a wash (highlighting the importance of washing your beard well), there’s no evidence that they accumulate or harbour larger bacterial populations than smooth faces. (mcgill.ca)

So there you have it. Beard or no beard. Sounds like we’re all in the same position as each other when it comes to catching coronavirus!

Stay safe!