Face masks may feel like personal saunas in the heat, and you may be tempted to forgo them all together to instead opt for a face shield, but can they really compensate for each other?
In short, no. Face shields cannot be used instead of face masks. Health officials do not recommend the clear plastic barriers as a substitute for masks because of the lack of research on whether they keep an infected person from spreading viral droplets to others.
Although a shield initially blocks droplets from reaching the face as they are propelled forward, they can "move around the visor with relative ease and spread out over a large area," a report published Tuesday in the U.S. journal Physics of Fluids said.
However, those who want extra protection may want to wear a face shield in addition to a mask. Grocery store clerks, cashiers as well as pharmacists have opted to use both as a form of protection across Turkey.
Face shields do actually have the added benefit of protecting your eyes and discouraging you from touching your face by acting as a physical barrier, says Christopher Sulmonte, project administrator of the biocontainment unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Therefore they could dissuade from trying to adjust your face mask at every opportunity, reducing the risk of contamination.
Meanwhile, the available research so far indicates that the best face shields for preventing viral spread are hooded or wrap around the sides and bottom of the face, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That is because those shields leave less space for droplets from sneezing, coughing and talking to escape.
If you do wear a reusable face shield in addition to a face mask, the CDC notes the importance of cleaning it after each use. The agency also says you should wash your hands before and after taking it off and avoid touching your face while removing it.