How to buy the right mask for protection from the coronavirus (COVID-19)

What to look for when buying masks

Doctor weighs in on what features to look for in a mask

DETROIT – With masks now required in many places due to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), there are advertisements everywhere for different styles and options.

How can you make sure you’re choosing the right kind of mask, especially when shopping online?

“A mask should be comfortable so you actually wear it,” Local 4′s Dr. Frank McGeorge said. “A bendable nose bridge is helpful to get a better fit. For better filtration, there should be multiple layers of material and they should be washable. The fabric that is on the inside should ideally wick moisture away from your face and dry easily, and avoid masks with the little coin-sized ports to breathe out through. That defeats the point of a mask in filtering your exhaled breath.”

Another good feature is a pocket in which to place a filter or another layer of material.

When it comes to fabric choice, recent research suggests a tight weave -- 100% cotton is a good bet. Adding another later of a different type of material increases the benefits, especially if that fabric can hold a static charge.

Researchers said chiffon, natural silk or polypropylene -- fabric derived from plastic -- fit the bill.

Regardless of the materials used, getting a good fit is critical.

“Masks should block the droplets and aerosols from your exhaled breath,” McGeorge said. “Too loose of a fit and they block less because more will escape from the top and sides. Along those lines, masks with straps that go around the head as opposed to simple ear loops are more effective for a snug fit, although they might be a little less comfortable to wear.”

Masks that have adjustable ear loops can also make it easier to get a good fit.

If you’re ordering online, McGeorge said it’s important to read the details carefully and do your homework on the seller.

“It’s safe to buy a mask online, but you should know ahead of time (that) it is hard to judge the fit well, and especially with higher-grade respirators, there are a lot of counterfeits, so buyer beware,” McGeorge said.

A good fit and comfort are essential factors for children’s masks, but don’t overlook the importance of fashion. Experts said the right print or characters can make wearing a mask more appealing to children.

About the Authors:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.