The Single Best Trick for Wearing a Face Mask When It's Hot Out

Here's how to both stay safe and keep cool during the summer of COVID-19.

Nearly half of Americans say they're now wearing masks whenever they leave the house, according to a recent Gallup poll. And while it seems more and more people are warming up to the idea universal mask-wearing, in the dog days of summer, wearing a mask can be a bit uncomfortable. There are a handful of tricks, however, to help you stay cool in the summer of COVID-19.

If you find the heat extra unbearable due to your face covering, don't ditch your mask; just follow these expert tips. Read on to find out how to keep from getting too hot while continuing to protect yourself and others around you from the coronavirus. And for more mask tricks that'll blow your mind, check out 10 Genius Face Mask Hacks You Should Know.

Avoid dark-colored masks.

white man wearing a face mask outside

The single best bit of advice? Wear light-colored masks over dark-colored ones. "Light-colored clothing reflects most of the visible wavelengths which, in turn, absorbs less heat," writes Aldrin Gomes, PhD, professor of Physiology and Membrane Biology at UC Davis. "On the contrary, darker or black clothing absorbs more wavelengths, absorbing more heat, hence making the clothing warmer to wear." And while this might be the most important advice for staying cool while wearing a mask, read on for a few other expert tips that can help, too.

Make sure your mask isn't made of polyester.

middle aged black man outside adjusting his surgical face mask amid the coronavirus pandemic

Make sure your mask is made of a breathable fabric like cotton over a polyester blend, which can hold heat to your face. Not only will cotton masks make you cooler, but they are also often more effective, according to Christopher Zangmeister, a researcher at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and co-author of a recent mask study published in the journal ACS Nano. He told NPR that microscopic cotton fibers have a more three-dimensional structure than synthetic materials, making them more efficient at blocking incoming particles. If you need evidence as to why cotton reigns supreme, then Watch Bill Nye Test Which Face Masks Work the Best.

Bring a spare mask.

close up of face masks on a beach towel at the beach

Sometimes, the heat simply cannot be beaten, which can turn even a light-colored cotton mask into a swampy swath of fabric. A mask that's dampened with exhaled moisture or sweat has increased resistance to airflow, and is also less efficient at filtering bacteria, according to Nursing Times. That's why it's important to have multiple masks on hand if you are out of the house for an extended period of time in the summer heat. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Stay hydrated.

Virtually all good health advice includes proper hydration, and wearing a mask is no exception. "Whether you're wearing a mask or not, always stay hydrated while you're out and about," write the experts of Penn Medicine. "Dizziness or a racing heartbeat are warning signs of heat exhaustion. If this happens, get out of the heat, safely remove your mask if you're wearing one, and get medical care right away." And for more mask advice, check out 10 Myths About Face Masks You Need to Know.

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