The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is preparing for the potential spread of the coronavirus in the US. You might be considering getting masks or a respirator to cover your mouth and protect yourself. The CDC previously recommended against wearing a mask to protect against coronavirus unless you were showing symptoms but has since revised that guidance. Now, the agency says everyone should wear a mask in public settings and when you’re around people you don’t live with, because you can be infected with and spread the virus even if you don’t feel sick.
If you have facial hair that could break the seal of that mask, check out this handy CDC infographic, which I’ve also included at the top of this post, to know what facial hair you can wear while not breaking the seal of that mask.
In short, the CDC recommends that any facial hair that can fit entirely under a respirator should be fine. Where it looks like you might have some problems is if your facial hair is long enough or covers enough of your face that it pushes against the seal of the respirator.
I love a lot of the images and names on the infographic. I really like Zorro, Zappa, and Walrus, and the image of the English mustache sticking out the sides of the respirator makes me laugh for some reason. I will say it’s a questionable choice to include a person with a Hitler-style mustache (sorry, “toothbrush”-style), though — that can’t be that common anymore.
One important note about the infographic: it was not made as specific guidance for coronavirus. It was first published in November 2017 to tell people who want to do No-Shave November and Movember what facial hair works with tight-fitting respirators. But the infographic is still fun to look at, and its general guidance seems applicable for any situation where you need to wear a face mask or respirator.
But if you do wear a mask or a respirator, it might not work with a beard. Instead, you might need to pick from the CDC’s other facial hair recommendations.
Update January 16th, 1:18PM ET: Adds the revised CDC guidance that everyone should wear a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19