I’m so thrilled to see all the transparent faces masks that are starting to come out, especially considering the incredible technology some of them are delivering.
For background, I am one of those WEAR YOUR MASK, PEOPLE! people, passionately and without apology. Living in NYC (and uh, believing in science) will do that to you. But while I never leave home without one, I have written about how I’m a big smiler, and how I realize that when I smile at someone one the street from behind my cloth mask — especially if I’m wearing sunglasses — they just think I’m some weirdo staring at them.
I’ve thought a lot about how far a smile goes at a time of decreased interpersonal contact and how much we’re missing it — though that’s a small complaint relative to some of the other challenges that opaque masks have for other people.
Think about babies in strollers, or even children, who are missing facial cues that help them learn to read emotions. I’ve heard from friends working in hospitals who miss being able to give a friendly smile to a patient, or important instructions to someone who’s hearing impaired I’ve also thought a lot about my own dad, who is hard of hearing, and whom I know relies more on lip-reading when there’s a lot of ambient noise.
But what concerns me above all is what I’ve heard and read from Black friends — especially men, or parents of Black boys — who fear masks will lead to racial profiling and its truly terrifying consequences, and shouldn’t have to weigh the possibility of that horror with the horror of getting or transmitting Covid to others.
So transparent masks? Yes. Please.
LEAF Mask: Sorry guys, you’ll have to shave again.
Redcliffe Healthcare has just gotten FDA approval on the LEAF mask, the first transparent N-99 mask with HEP Filtration and UV-C sterilization. (That’s NASA grade HEPA filtration, evidently.) Just one look at the photos and you can see what a difference it makes.
It even has some kind of defogging mechanism which, wow.
There are still 14 days left in their Indiegogo campaign if you want to get in — and judging from the nearly $1mm they’ve already raised, this is a big big deal. They start at $49 each with the early bird discounts, and there are packages that go up from there.
There’s even a Leaf Pro with app-controlled filtration, which seems like…overkill for regular mask-wearing people like me? But hey, for those in higher-risk categories or for medical pros, it could be truly valuable technology.
ClearMask: For medical use…and beyond?
For healthcare professionals specifically, the ClearMask (good job on that ™, ClearMask), looks like a solid, affordable option. It could even end up being the new hospital standard. considering the benefits they describe for healthcare professionals — like decreasing anxiety in children, increasing connection during childbirth, and reducing patient anxiety overall. It’s only available for bulk pre-ordering for medical use right now, but I can see it catching on once production is up and running.
HelloMask: Radical new technology that could change everything
One of the coolest options may also be the simplest: A new transparent polymer mask called HelloMask, made in Switzerland from a new material developed for this very purpose. It’s actually been two years in development, to ensure “the right combination of transparency, resistance and porosity.” It’s gong to be mass-produced for general use, and best of all, it’s going to be eco-friendly.
There are some others that seem less viable for non-medical pros like me, but I imagine plenty more will come.
As cool as these all are, I can only beg you: don’t even think of making your own. We all know not to stick a plastic bag over our heads or over our mouths, right? So no DIY Saran Wrap mask tutorials on Pinterest, please.
Note: If you are here to tell me that face masks don’t work in stopping the spread of Covid-19 and that they are a high-level mind control hoax for sheeple zombies perpetrated by Bill Gates, George Soros and the ghost of Area 51 alien autopsy victims, this is not a forum for you. Instead, consider taking some time to research why you do not want Covid nor do you want to transmit it to people you love, read some good medical studies about the effectiveness of masks… then put on a freaking mask instead of pretending you have a medical condition, thanks.