You Can Actually Wear a Face Shield Instead of a Mask When in Public. Here’s Everything You Should Know About Face Shields

People were so fixated on face masks that somehow nobody noticed that face shields are a thing too.

In case you’ve never seen them before:

Image: Amazon

That’s right. You can actually wear these instead of face masks.

See, it’s even on the Ministry of Health’s FAQ page:

Image: MOH

Mind-blowing, I know. Especially when you consider the advantages it has over masks.

Advantages of Face Shields

Unlike the face mask, face shields also cover your eyes and other parts of the face. All the while being transparent.

So if you like showing off your beautiful face over looking like a ninja, a shield is preferable.

Since it’s plastic, it also can’t get wet like masks, is relatively easy to clean, and much more durable.

It’s also a lot more comfortable, since it’s not landing on your nose. Nor does it require you to be clean-shaven. Most importantly, your glasses wouldn’t fog up every two seconds like you’ve just alighted from a very cold bus.

That’s not even talking about production. Apparently, it’s also easier for manufacturers to produce since it doesn’t require specific machinery like masks. In fact, Nike, Apple, Blue Origin and universities like Duke are using 3D printers to make face shields.

A journal on JAMA Network suggested the adoption of face shields. A study in 2014 showed that face shields reduce a person’s viral exposure to a cough expelled less than 18 inches away by 96%.

So, time to order one online right?

Not quite.

And it’s not because you don’t see them in public as often.

Some Refute Face Shields as Effective

For one, if you already have a few boxes of masks lying around, there’s no need for you to have yet another protective gear you’re not using.

The other one is that some doctors seem to say it’s not effective.

Image: Giphy

This particular CNA article I’m linking even says that shields should be worn together with masks for effective protection.

What gives?

According to Professor Teo Yik Ying, dean of the National University of Singapore’s Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, it’s because face shields are used to minimise exposure to parts of the face not covered by the face mask.

You’re probably thinking: MOH say okay, but some expert say yes, some say not okay. What now?

Face Shield Designs Seem To Vary A lot

This is simply a theory, but the different opinions on the effectiveness of face shields don’t seem to put up an example of face shield.

When talking about face masks, we know it refers to surgical masks. But face shields?


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A Google search shows the many slight variations in designs:

Some cover more of the face, some are straight down, and some are angled. Some are much smaller and leave your necks exposed. Some are used by NASA people who go to space.

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So for example, the Defence Science and Technology Agency’s version is much more compact, and leaves the neck exposed, allowing particles to go through much easier than most designs you’ll find on Google:

Image: Defence Science and Technology Agency

And then there are things like this, which seems even more uncomfortable but provides more coverage and makes you look like Tony Stark:


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Image: Carbatec

In other words, it’s a bit like someone saying Samsung sucks because his Galaxy Note 7 exploded, while another saying Samsung rocks because S20 is the best phone they’ve used.

The publications didn’t quite make that quite clear what kind of face shields they are comparing.

You might remember that doctors were split in opinions about whether we should wear masks at the very beginning of COVID-19.

In fact, the use of face mask is also heavily debated. Some even suggest that face masks are not very effective as well

Image: Pinterest

…yet a recent study done with hamsters show it’s effective.


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Image: Reddit (Image is, obviously, for illustration purpose only)

So what’s it all mean? It means social distancing still triumphs masks or shields. Both are just additional protection.

MOH says it’s probably fine to use either a mask or a shield. But remember that’s provided that you practice the usual good practices. Wash your hands, social distance, you know the drill.

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