face masks - the new norm?

Seems like it. They’re becoming essential.  

While the past months have allowed us all to adjust into this new norm, it’s hard not to think about how strange it still feels to have to wear a mask out.

So first, let’s explore – how effective are they? 

We must understand that the Corona virus travels in droplets and it’s important we keep 6 feet away to minimize risks. While some small drops might still get through, a cloth mask will help lock the larger ones from breaching our mouths and leaving our mouths.

At this point, there’s no really big controlled study that looks at cloth masks, but what smaller studies have shown for the most part is that cloth masks are better than wearing nothing, and what they’re really doing is stopping those larger droplets. Dr. Shan Soe-Lin, an expert in global health, emphasized the importance of layers. If you’re planning to buy or make a cloth mask, the CDC is recommending two layers of 100% cotton fabric that’s tightly woven. Think bed sheets with a really high thread count. So materials and shape are all taken into consideration.


Understanding masks

Cloth face masks do not effectively filter small particles from inhaled air and are not approved by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). It’s also important to note that cloth masks are not the same as medical-grade masks.

But… They’re cute and better than nothing. 

Surgical masks are loose fitting and therefore do not prevent leakage around the mouth upon inhalation. Therefore, do not provide reliable protection from small airborne particles. However, it’s important to mention that there’s a nationwide shortage and every PPE mask helps protect frontline healthcare workers.

Lastly, N95 respirators are personal protective devices worn on the face or head that covers the nose and mouth. Particulate respirators filter out airborne particles effectively. Some are tested and certified, but let’s leave these for the pros.


Paying the price

The popular opinion is that selling a $20 mask is OK, but selling a mask by a luxury brand with a high price point is in poor taste. In fact, none of the major multi-brand luxury retailers are selling masks right now, and none want to talk about it. 

“Brands need to find the delicate balance of creating products that customers want, without being accused of insensitivity or profiting from a crisis”

–   Katy Lubin, VP of Communications at Lyst

In our opinion? Masks will become the norm as they have in markets like Japan — and there’s nothing  wrong with using them to complete a look, while staying safe!


brands doing it right

  1. Christy Dawn– With a love for Mother Earth, Christy Dawn uses leftover fabric (also known as deadstock) and organic cotton for all of its LA- and India-based crafted designs. One order of non-medical grade masks, made of 100 percent doubled deadstock cotton, means you’ll get five, while the other five are given to those in need.
  1. Groceries ApparelCalifornia-based brand Groceries Apparel only uses 100 percent GMO-free, recycled, and fair trade materials sourced directly from seed and soil. These 100 percent organic cotton non-medical grade masks directly fund the company’s ability to donate masks to essential workers, while also providing living wages to the USA-based team.
  1. Selva Negra Selva Negra is the ethical and sustainable brand of two Latina designers, offering collections made in downtown LA. For comfortable masks that go around your entire head—not just your ears—you can find creative options for sizes and patterns; plus, for every five masks sold, one will be provided to healthcare workers nationwide.
  1. Tonlé Dedicated to low-waste practices and ethically supporting Cambodian artisans and families, Tonlé uses scrap waste for its apparel. If you’re in need of bulk masks, they’re sold here at-cost to keep seamstresses employed and are sewn with organic white cotton. (If you’re able, you can choose to donate masks for each one purchased.)
  1. Ella Pons – Vibrant brainchild of Miami local designer, Magela Pons. Ella Pons masks use up-cycled fabric, 100% cotton and 5 layers, including interfacing layers for additional protection. These masks are not-for-profit, and each sale goes directly to the seamstresses making them. Choose from a variety of colors and patterns.
  1. Debbie KatzAffordable cloth masks are hand-made with leftover fabric in Miami with profits geared towards staff salaries and a network of independent local seamstresses. Debbie Katz is donating 10 masks to organizations in need for every 100 masks purchased. 

If you’re feeling crafty and want to use this spare time to sew your own mask, let us know and we’ll create a DIY tutorial. Continue to wash your hands, don’t touch your face. Social distance if you can, and don’t forget to wear a mask!