IF YOU ARE FULLY VACCINATED
CDC has updated its guidance for people who are fully vaccinated. See Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People.
IMPORTANT UPDATE FOR SCHOOLS
CDC recommends schools continue to use the current COVID-19 prevention strategies for the 2020-2021 school year. Learn more

Improve How Your Mask Protects You

Improve How Your Mask Protects You

Correct and consistent mask use is a critical step everyone can take to prevent getting and spreading COVID-19. Masks work best when everyone wears them, but not all masks provide the same protection. When choosing a mask, look at how well it fits, how well it filters the air, and how many layers it has.

Two important ways to make sure your mask works the best it can
lite icon

Make sure your mask fits snugly against your face. Gaps can let air with respiratory droplets leak in and out around the edges of the mask

lite icon

Pick a mask with layers to keep your respiratory droplets in and others’ out. A mask with layers will stop more respiratory droplets getting inside your mask or escaping from your mask if you are sick.

Image of Lady wearing mask

For more information on science behind improving how your mask protects you, see Improve the Fit and Filtration of Your Mask to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19.

For more information on wearing a mask and personal protective equipment in healthcare workplaces, see Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Healthcare Personnel During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic.

Do

Choose a mask with a nose wire

  • A nose wire is a metal strip along the top of the mask
  • Nose wires prevent air from leaking out of the top of the mask.
  • Bend the nose wire over your nose to fit close to your face.
Lady wearing red facemask

Use a mask fitter or brace

  • Use a mask fitter or brace over a disposable mask or a cloth mask to prevent air from leaking around the edges of the mask.
Man wearing blue facemask

Check that it fits snugly over your nose, mouth, and chin

  • Check for gaps by cupping your hands around the outside edges of the mask.
  • Make sure no air is flowing from the area near your eyes or from the sides of the mask.
  • If the mask has a good fit, you will feel warm air come through the front of the mask and may be able to see the mask material move in and out with each breath.
illustration of person cupping hands on the sides of mask

Add layers of material

2 ways to layer

  • Use a cloth mask that has multiple layers of fabric.
  • Wear a disposable mask underneath a cloth mask.
    • The cloth mask should push the edges of the disposable mask against your face.

Make sure you can see and breathe easily

Layers of masks

Knot and tuck ear loops of a 3-ply mask

  • Knot the ear loops of a 3-ply face mask where they join the edge of the mask
  • Fold and tuck the unneeded material under the edges
  • For instructions, see the following https://youtu.be/GzTAZDsNBe0external icon.
knot and fold

Other things to consider

Certain types of facial hair, like beards, can make mask fitting difficult. People with beards can do one or more of the following:

  • Shave their beards.
  • Trim their beards close to the face.
  • Use a mask fitter or brace.
  • Wear one disposable mask underneath a cloth mask that has multiple layers of fabric. The second mask should push the edges of the inner mask snugly against the face and beard.

Masks designed for people with beards are being evaluated, and information will be provided when it becomes available.

COVID-19_Masks_and_Beards_disposable_fitter
COVID-19_Masks_and_Beards_disposable_cloth

Do NOT

Combine two disposable masks

  • Disposable masks are not designed to fit tightly and wearing more than one will not improve fit.
Man wearing two disposable masks

Combine a KN95 mask with any other mask.

  • Only use one KN95 mask at a time.
Man wearing N95 and disposable masks