The masks and beards problem

A man in a mask contemplating the latest news reports

As masks become more and more of a regular feature – in shops, on trains and on buses – one of our regular readers has raised an interesting point about masks.

When I bought a mask (see top picture) from one of Rye’s High Street chemists before lockdown even started, the photo was taken in a High Street restaurant – and I was clean shaven and my hair was very short – and we were not socially distanced.

Many weeks later (without access to a hairdresser) and, with some laziness on my part, I had very long hair and quite a beard – though not yet to Father Christmas standards. The long hair has now vanished, but the beard keeps creeping back.

And one of our regular readers and commentators, Vic, has pointed out that this could be a problem, and sent in a drawing from the American CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) used to publicise mask wearing – a habit President Trump started to follow this week.

However the graphic below is about masks with filtering facepiece respirators, I am told, and not general face coverings, so you may need to apply common sense as to whether or not your beard and/or moustache is stopping your mask working effectively.

A helpful guide from America as to what beards and moustaches may work with face masks

And, despite being bearded from time time, I am happy to publish this because we do need to wear masks and ensure they are effective. However, as an asthmatic all my life, I can find breathing difficult so I sometimes have to get my mask out of the way in order to get some fresh air – but only if I can be reasonably confident the air around me is fresh, so this usually happens when I am out walking!

Image Credits: Rye News library , Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .


  1. My wife wears a face shield as she finds a face mask makes it difficult to breathe and steamed up her glasses. It is also much more comfortable to wear than a mask.

  2. It’s not just beards–some masks are just too small for men (and some women, I’m sure) with big noses and large faces. My husband had a hard time finding the right mask! The ones that fit me just fine won’t go over both his nose and chin. He eventually succeeded with a mask from an Etsy seller, but it’s a fairly thick flannel material that he says tends to make him short of breath.

    I’ve been experimenting with masks too, as I find the thicker ones do indeed make it hard to breathe well while talking (church services are a good test of that aspect of masks when we’re saying our part of the liturgy). The best ones for breathing are made of modern “technical” materials, more expensive than cotton masks. The more expensive masks also have a wire insert that stop your glasses from fogging up. My favourite ones so far are from Vistaprint but work out at almost twenty quid each when you add postage! Still, I’ve no doubt masks will get better and cheaper as they become part of our everyday lives.

  3. I have a beard about 20-25cm in length. Facemasks dont work for me so thank god for Amazon.
    Ryes shops are generally over priced and a bit grockle. If I wanted to buy a three pronged bayonette lightbulb for a relative new build Id have to look on Amazon. If I wanted to get a garden hose, Id scoff at £50 for 30meters of cheap green hose and look on amazon. If I wanted garden furniture Id look out of town or if I needed something for the car. If I wanted to get some sports wear or trainers I’d go out of town or if I wanted to buy a TV or DVD player, again out of town.
    But if I wanted to buy a dream catcher, wind chime or a collar for Derek the cat with Rye on it then Ryes the place to be.
    Its a great place to live, but I go to the high street maybe 5 times a year.

    • I think the shopkeepers of Rye should be honoured that the Father of the Gods comes down from Mt Olympus five times a year to check out what retail is going on down in town. No need for a facemask – he could opt to visit as a swan! Or a cuckoo! Or a bull! Indeed, I read his Golden Shower is very effective! So many choices.
      I gather he created the Amazon to protect humankind, but in doing so he has made life very difficult for Rye’s independent traders!

  4. It’s not whether masks actually have an effect, it’s to be seen that you are making the effort to comply.
    Remember – up until last Thursday, there was no need for one to be worn, but by the next day it was mandatory (unless you are asthmatic, are anxious, or even just don’t feel like wearing one – the virus can tell, and won’t bother you if you fall into these categories).

    Ever get the feeling we’ve been had??


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