“No-Shave November” is a time when men often participate in campaigns to trade their razors for donations to important causes such as cancer research, education or social services. “No-Shave November” campaigns can be a fun way to raise money and awareness for important issues…unless you need to wear a tight-fitting respirator for your job.
Ensuring a good fit when wearing any face covering is a vital part of respiratory protection practices. Facial hair that lies along the sealing area of a respirator, such as beards, sideburns, or some mustaches, may interfere with the effectiveness of the protection. Most particles, gases, and vapors follow the air stream right through the facial hair and into respiratory tract of the wearer. Facial hair has little impact on the effectiveness of traditional cloth or surgical masks being worn for COVID-19 protection. However, individuals with facial hair tend to touch their face more often, especially when the presence of facial hair is new.
This doesn’t mean “No-Shave November” is a no go for individuals who are required to wear a respirator or face covering for work or in the community. There are plenty of facial hairstyles that will work with a tight-sealing face covering as show in the chart below from the Center for Disease Control.