Should you be wearing a face shield?

Korin Miller

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Face shields should wrap around your face and extend below your chin, according to the CDC. (Photo: Amazon)
Face shields should wrap around your face and extend below your chin, according to the CDC. (Photo: Amazon)

Cases of COVID-19 are surging across the country, making it incredibly apparent that we should be doing everything we can to try to control the spread of the virus. That means practicing social distancing, washing your hands often and wearing a face mask when you can’t stay six feet away from others.

Many states and stores are now requiring people to wear some sort of face covering. And, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that face masks are the preferred method of covering your nose and mouth in public, infectious disease experts say a face shield may be a good alternative.

For the record: The CDC does not recommend face shields for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for cloth face coverings. Why? The CDC says that it’s unknown whether these shields can offer protection against the spread of COVID-19.

But public health experts are arguing that face shields may be a good tool in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. A research article published in the journal JAMA suggests that face shields could help reduce the number of COVID-19 infections, along with practicing social distancing, good hand hygiene and increased access to testing. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) also recommends face shields in its policy review for Pennsylvania school re-openings.  

It’s important to point out that face shields don’t offer 100 percent protection. A cough simulator study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene found that 4 percent of particles produced by a cough can get under a face shield right after the cough happens. However, 96 percent didn’t.

Many face shields have adjustable elastic bands for a snug fit. (Photo: Amazon)
Many face shields have adjustable elastic bands for a snug fit. (Photo: Amazon)

But cloth face masks aren’t perfect either. Dr. Amesh A. Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells Yahoo Life that, in theory, face shields should at least offer some layer of protection. “You have to remember that the eyes are a route of infection and face shields are a method of protection,” he says. “We wear face shields when caring for patients, and they’re much easier to wear correctly than masks.”

While it’s possible to wear a face shield alone, it’s especially effective when you pair it with a face mask, Dr. Richard Watkins, an infectious disease physician and professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University, tells Yahoo Life. “A face shield with a mask is better than a mask alone for decreasing the risk of COVID-19,” he says. “When I see patients with COVID-19, I always wear eye protection.”

Face shields are also better than nothing for people who don’t want to wear a mask, can’t wear a mask or have a health condition that prevents them from wearing a mask, Adalja says. (The CDC has more information on both.)

Keep in mind that face shields don’t meet the criteria for a face covering in all cities, states and stores, so you’ll need to check your local requirements before wearing one in public.

If you’re interested in trying out a face shield, the CDC recommends making sure it wraps around the sides of your face and extends below your chin. Don’t forget, too, that disposable ones should be discarded after use and reusable ones should be thoroughly sanitized after you wear them.

Want to try out a face shield? Here are two top-rated options to consider:

Sunzel Face Shields Set

These lightweight shields offer 180 degrees of protection. (Photo: Amazon)
These lightweight shields offer 180 degrees of protection. (Photo: Amazon)

Meet the No. 1 best-selling face shields on Amazon. The Sunzel Face Shields set offers 10 anti-fog face shields and five reusable glasses for additional eye protection. The shields easily tack onto the glasses for a snug fit, and wrap around your face to guard against droplets and saliva.

2 PCS Safety Face Shields

These face shields are treated with an anti-fog and anti-static coating. (Photo: Amazon)
These face shields are treated with an anti-fog and anti-static coating. (Photo: Amazon)

This safety face shield comes in a 2-pack and offers full-face protection and an anti-fog coating to help you see clearly. The adjustable elastic band offers a comfy fit, and the sponge headband helps keep you comfortable, even during long-term wear.

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