At this point in the COVID-19 pandemic, it's becoming increasingly hard to remember what it's like to half-smile at a passerby in public — because, face masks. Enter, the latest innovation in non-medical protective face layers that's gone mainstream: the transparent mask. We chatted with New York City-based internist Dr. Sunitha Posina, MD, to get the full scoop on the clear coverings that we're starting to see everywhere. Scroll on to find out how, exactly, transparent face masks compare to their cloth counterparts and where you can buy them online.
"As important as face masks are at this time, it is also extremely crucial to recognize and understand that the layered or opaque face masks can be very challenging for individuals with hearing impairment, as their communication is dependent on visual cues," Dr. Sunitha Posina, MD, tells Refinery29. "The CDC recently updated their face mask recommendations and suggested to consider face masks that help those with hearing loss or any other communication disorders after the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) brought up the issue to them on June 8th in a letter," Dr. Posina explains.
Now, you may be wondering if these clear masks (aka "communicator masks") actually work to prevent the spread of COVID-19. "I don’t see any clear difference personally, and there are no studies on it in terms of the opaque masks versus masks with a clear plastic center, in terms of efficacy or overall better protection," Dr. Posina says. "The most important aspect of this is to wear a protective face mask and to stop the spread of respiratory droplets." Our takeaway? Anything with a window gets a green light, but proceed with caution when it comes to completely clear masks as many of them are perforated — and therefore potentially less effective in blocking particles.
"My adult children both work as ABA therapists. The kids need to see their facial expressions. These have worked perfectly. They are good quality and comfortable. They both report that they do not fog even after 9 hour days," one Etsy reviewer writes of this vinyl and cotton style crafted here in the U.S.
Once you get past the ahem, not great, Photoshop, consider investing in this gingham-print mask set with a large clear window. (According to reviews, it runs a little large, so be sure to adjust the ear loops for a snug fit along your nose and chin.)
This Etsy bestseller is a unisex style that's offered in a range of subtle colorways, is crafted with comfort-first adjustable ear loops, and costs just under $10.
Coordinate with your favorite tie-dye matching set with this clear mask, also available in a pink colorway.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.