How to Wear a Mask With Glasses

Anna Callaghan

Some questions about face masks are easy. Should I wear one to the grocery store? Yes. Where can I buy one? Here. But how to wear a mask with glasses? ...it’s complicated. And foggy.

As you may have already experienced, when warm breath escapes the top of the mask it condenses on the cooler lenses, fogs up, and makes it hard to see. Now you have to fly blind or take off your glasses by putting your germy fingers near the mucus membranes that line your eyes—a portal for viruses to slide right into your body.

It’s a nuisance, to be sure, and might even discourage people from wearing masks at all. But mask wearing is going to continue for the foreseeable future—it’s even the law in many places—so we tapped a few glasses-wearing doctors to get their advice on keeping four-eyed folks seeing 20/20.

Create a better seal

Here’s the thing about the breath that’s escaping from the top of the mask: that’s a sign that things aren’t working as they should. Ideally, your breath is filtered by the fabric, not escaping the sides.

“On a real medical mask you can get a good seal, so with cloth masks, any way to block the air from escaping will help,” says Dr. Heather Kagan, an internal medicine resident physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

The N95 masks used by doctors have a rigid metal strip that ensures a tight fit that doesn’t allow air to escape. These masks should, of course, be reserved for medical professionals, but many civilian cloth masks include that feature. That’s something to look for if you’re shopping for a mask you plan to wear with glasses.

“Another simple fix is to put a small piece of tape on the bridge of your nose,” says Dr. Rachel Bystritsky, a clinical medicine professor at the University of California, San Francisco. “But make sure it’s cloth tape that won’t irritate your skin,” she says, like the surgical tape you might have in your first-aid kit.

Move things around

“Wear your glasses farther down the tip of your nose. It may make you look like a nerd, but if you can’t get a snug fit with your mask this will create more airflow,” said Dr. Bystritsky.

If your vision—or vanity— isn’t quite ready to allow that, try pulling your mask up higher (making sure to keep the rest of your face covered) and putting your glasses on top of it––this should also help.

When you’re figuring out how to wear a mask with glasses, you might be tempted to move the mask as far away as possible, but be sure not to nullify the entire point of wearing the thing. “I’ve seen pictures of people who wear their mask over the bottoms of their glasses. This will definitely decrease the effectiveness of the mask,” said Dr. Michael Pang, an internist based in Phoenix. “I’ve also seen people have their mask pulled down below their nose where it’s just covering their mouth. That may stop their glasses from fogging, but defeats the whole purpose of wearing a face mask in the first place.”

Treat your lenses

If your lenses haven’t been treated with an anti-fog protective coating, try one out—they come as both sprays and wipes.

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Even easier—try soap. In 2011 a British surgeon published a paper that found that just using soapy water on the lenses and letting them dry can be an effective method.

Another thing you can do is to try playing around with your breathing. “I’ve found that mouth breathing inside your mask increases your chances of fogging more than nose breathing, and if your head is angled downward you’re more likely to fog than if your head is angled up toward the sky,” said Dr. Pang.

And if all that doesn’t work, just hang in there. “I’ve never worn a cloth mask before this, but I find that after walking around for a few minutes it’s okay,” said Dr. Bystritsky. “I’m not sure if the fogging gets better or I just get used to it.”

We all need to wear masks—so here's a running list of designers producing them.

Wearing a mask in public is only half the battle—you’ve also got to keep it clean. 

Originally Appeared on GQ