These days, everyone is looking for ways to make wearing face mask more comfortable. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public spaces and many cities and states mandate them, face masks (even the best ones we’ve tested) aren’t the most comfortable things to wear for an extended period of time. They can make you feel hot, are often hard to breathe in, and can be annoying to deal with. To help with these things, people have been purchasing face shields and face masks accessories like necklaces to hold masks and nose clips for tighter fits.
Now, there’s a new accessory that is starting to gain popularity: face mask brackets. These bendable, silicone plastic frames—also known as a mask brace—are meant to keep your mask from touching your face, making it easier to breathe and potentially minimizing irritation. Searches for “face mask brackets” have peaked at their highest point, according to Google Trends, and people are starting to buy them. If you’re interested in purchasing one, here’s more information on how they work, if they’re safe for you to wear, and where to buy them.
The idea behind face mask brackets is that they make it easier to breathe and lower irritation from masks since your face isn’t directly touching it. These silicone disks can also provide a more snug fit by closing any side gap on the mask. Plus, they prevent lipstick from being rubbed onto a mask, making them a date night savior.
But do they lower the effectiveness of masks? While there aren’t any studies on face mask brackets, Gabriela Andujar Vazquez, MD, Infectious Disease Physician and Associate Hospital Epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center, says that they should not impact the quality of masks as long as the mask still fits well.
“Whatever makes people more compliant in wearing masks,” she says. “If it makes people feel better and more comfortable, then I think it’s OK.”
But Andujar Vazquez recommends disposing or properly washing face mask brackets after each use and warns that it could pose as a choking hazard with young children. She also said they could be good for those with sensory issues, as these brackets could lessen irritation from cloth masks.
Our apparel expert, Jamie Udea, agrees, saying a face mask bracket should be fine as long as “it doesn’t cause the mask to create a gap around the face and doesn’t make the mask not fit well.” So it may be trial and error to see if a mask bracket properly fits in your current masks without loosening the fit.
For a better fit, some brands and reviewers recommend using double-sided tape or sewing the face mask bracket into the mask. That way it won’t shift around as you’re wearing them, a common problem some reviewers experienced.
One reviewer of the Anesidora Face Mask Inner Support Frame, says “This product makes wearing a mask SO much more comfortable. The heat index in Georgia has been over 100 the past few days, and wearing this in my mask to go run errands today made it 100% more comfortable. My face doesn’t feel like a sauna, and the fabric wasn’t sticking to my face after five minutes.”