These are the face masks doctors wear when they're off-duty

Korin Miller
·5 min read

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These are what doctors reach for. (Photo: Old Navy)
These are what doctors reach for. (Photo: Old Navy)

Most people were introduced to the idea of wearing face masks when the pandemic started, but doctors and medical professionals have been doing this for their entire professional lives. And, while you probably know a lot about masks at this point, it's understandable to be curious about what face coverings doctors wear off-duty.

After all, medical professionals need protection at the grocery store and while running errands, too. And, given that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released new guidelines on masks, most people are thinking about masks lately.

On the job, 13 medical professionals across a range of fields tell Yahoo Life that they wear either an N95 or surgical mask. Outside of work, some say they'll continue to wear N95 masks. But, since the CDC still recommends that they be reserved for healthcare workers, we focused just on disposable and cloth options they reach for. Here's what doctors use for face masks when they're not seeing patients.

WXD Disposable Earloop Half Face Mask

Most doctors and nurses prefer to wear a surgical mask in public. (Photo: Staples)
Most doctors and nurses prefer to wear a surgical mask in public. (Photo: Staples)

The majority of medical professionals say that they like to wear a surgical-style mask outside of work. "I just wear a regular disposable surgical mask," infectious disease expert Dr. Amesh A. Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells Yahoo Life. Dr. Timothy Murphy, senior associate dean for clinical and translational research at the University at Buffalo, tells Yahoo Life that he doubles up on surgical masks. "When I go out, I have taken to wearing a two surgical masks—one knotted for a snug fit, to take advantage of both the extra layers and the snug fit to maximize protection of myself and others," he says. And Dr. Gloria A Bachmann, medical director of the PROUD Gender Center of New Jersey at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, tells Yahoo Life that she opts for a "standard disposable mask" with "no distinguishing features or messages" for a reason. "I want to send the universal message that we're all in this together—that wearing a mask while working, shopping, walking in my neighborhood, etc., is the one thing all of us can do as a team," she says.

Shop it: WXD Disposable Earloop Half Face Mask, $10 (was $25), staples.com

Old Navy Variety 5-Pack of Triple-Layer Cloth Pleated Face Masks for Adults

The adjustable ear loops are a nice feature. (Photo: Old Navy)
The adjustable ear loops are a nice feature. (Photo: Old Navy)

For everyday use outside of clinic and the hospital, Dr. Angela Caswell-Monack, an ob/gyn at Women's Wellness of Southern Delaware, reaches for these popular face masks from Old Navy. A big perk of these face masks, she tells Yahoo Life, is the adjustable ear loops. "I can pull the bottom strap tighter and it fits closer to my cheeks," she says.

Shop it: Variety 5-Pack of Triple-Layer Cloth Pleated Face Masks for Adults, $12.50, oldnavy.com

Umma Adventure Is Out There Mask

These masks are made in Los Angeles. (Photo: Etsy)
These masks are made in Los Angeles. (Photo: Etsy)

Several doctors say they've been following the CDC's new recommendations for double masking. Dr. Richard Watkins, an infectious disease physician and professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University, tells Yahoo Life that he'll layer a surgical or cloth face mask on top of a medical procedure mask for extra protection. "I don't want to take any chances," he says. Women's health expert Dr. Jennifer Wider tells Yahoo Life that she's also big on double masking, especially at the grocery store: "Surgical mask underneath and cloth above." Wider says Umma's cloth face masks are her favorite—they have multiple layers and a "snug" nose wire.

Shop it: Umma Adventure Is Out There Mask, $10, etsy.com

Jaanuu Reusable Antimicrobial Face Mask (5 Pack)

These masks go with everything. (Photo: Revolve)
These masks go with everything. (Photo: Revolve)

Dr. Jessica Shepherd, an ob/gyn in Texas, is a big fan of these masks. "It has a soft fabric that is treated with the Silvadur antimicrobial preservative technology," she tells Yahoo Life. That tech helps prevent the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew that can cause your mask to smell or become discolored over time. "They are washable and reusable, and reinforced with mesh lining," she says. "But I love that it comes with a bag to store it, too."

Shop it: Jaanuu Reusable Antimicrobial Face Mask (5 Pack), $39, revolve.com

Uniqlo Airism Face Mask (3 Pack)

This mask is available in goes-with-everything black. (Photo: Uniqlo)
This mask is available in goes-with-everything black. (Photo: Uniqlo)

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, tells Yahoo Life that he alternates between wearing a surgical mask and a multi-layer black cloth mask when he's out walking. This mask pack from Uniqlo has three layers: The company's patented AIRism fabric to wick away moisture, a washable, built-in filter, and AIRism mesh to block UV rays.

Shop it: Uniqlo Airism Face Mask (3 Pack), $39, uniqlo.com

Cherislpy PM2.5 Activated Carbon Filter (10 Pack)

A filter can make your mask even more efficient. (Photo: Amazon)
A filter can make your mask even more efficient. (Photo: Amazon)

Several doctors use PM 2.5 filters to help make their cloth face masks even better. "If I'm not wearing my surgical mask that I was wearing all day, I tend to slip into one of my cloth masks," Dr. Sophia Tolliver, family medicine physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells Yahoo Life. "It has a triple layer with a PM 2.5 particulate matter insert to give it added protection." Dr. David Cennimo, assistant professor of medicine-pediatrics infectious disease at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, tells Yahoo Life that he usually wears the same procedure mask he wears all day at work. "It seems less wasteful," he says. But he does have fabric face masks that he uses, too. "They are all triple-layered material with a filter insert," he says.

Shop it: Cherislpy PM2.5 Activated Carbon Filter (10 Pack), $5, amazon.com

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