Dr. Fauci Just Revealed These Kinds of Masks Are Best for Double Masking

If you wear them in the wrong order, you could be putting yourself at risk.

For the past few weeks, health experts—including White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD—have been telling the public that double masking could provide stronger protection from COVID. Now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has officially advocated for wearing two masks, Fauci is sharing tips on the best way to do it. According to the infectious disease expert, there are two kinds of masks best suited to double masking. Read on to see which masks you should be layering, and for masks to avoid, This One Type of Face Mask Is "Unacceptable," Warns the Mayo Clinic.

Dr. Fauci said a cloth mask over a surgical mask is the best way to double mask.

Woman with double masks

In a Feb. 11 appearance on Today, Fauci suggested that people put a cloth mask over a surgical mask for a more secure fit. These specific masks worn in that order will minimize the leakage of aerosols that can otherwise creep out of gaps in a mask. "If you want to really be sure [you're safe], get a tighter fit with a second mask," Fauci said.

While the White House adviser is popularizing this method of masking, he's not the only one advocating for it. A recent study published in the journal Cell found that people should "wear a cloth mask tightly on top of a surgical mask where the surgical mask acts as a filter, and the cloth mask provides an additional layer of filtration while improving the fit." If the masks fit well, this strategy should prevent virus transmission with over 90 percent efficacy, according to the study. However, the researchers note that reversing the order of the masks could alter the fit and make it less effective. And for more insight from Fauci, Dr. Fauci Says You'll Easily Get a Vaccine Appointment After This Date.

There are three problem areas in a mask that are prone to leakage.

Anthony Fauci

Double masking ensures that the mask fits tight to your face, which helps contain airflow better. Fauci pointed out that there are three areas—below the eyes, under the jaw, and in front of your ears—that are prone to leakage when wearing an ill-fitting mask. These gaps can be remedied with double masking, which offers a better fit by securing the mask to your face. And for more masks to steer clear of, The CDC Warns Against Using These 6 Face Masks.

The CDC just published a new study that shows the benefits of double masking.

Girl wearing two masks

After weeks of experts suggesting mask layering, the CDC finally published a study on the practice on Feb. 10 and subsequently added a double-masking recommendation to its guidelines. The study concluded that wearing a surgical mask underneath a cloth mask substantially reduced the wearer's exposure to viral particles. According to research, a surgical mask on its own blocked 42 percent of the "most important" particles for transmitting COVID, and a cloth mask on its own blocked 44 percent. Combining the two masks helps block substantially more particles.

The CDC's website now advocates for wearing "one disposable mask underneath a cloth mask. The second mask should push the edges of the inner mask against your face." And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

You don't have to wear two masks.

Mature man in mask using mobile phone and choosing products in supermarket, potentially for Super Bowl party
FG Trade / iStock

Fauci pointed out that the CDC's recommendation is not that you have to wear two masks, but that you do have to wear at least one. "What the CDC is saying [is] at minimum, wear a mask. That's all [the CDC is] saying," he explained. "One mask at least, but if you want to really be sure, get a tighter fit with a second mask." And for more guidance from the COVID adviser, Dr. Fauci Says Don't Do This After Your First COVID Shot.

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