Editorial

Be a (Cool) Ninja Photographer: Wear a Mask

 

THIS IS A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
We are not affiliated with any of the Canadian and US companies mentioned in this article, nor do we receive any referral fees from them should you decide, upon doing your own careful research, to buy masks from them. I list companies from both the US and Canada, so you can avoid to pay the hefty custom fees.

Good quality cloth masks work.

They save lives. Yours.

They protect you. They remind you not to touch (prevent you from touching) your face.

They also protect your loved ones.

They also protect the elderly who are the most at risk in our society.

They are washable, therefore reusable, hence relatively cheap when viewed this way.

They are comfortable to wear if you get the right ones for you (and I’ll tell you how you’ll know which masks are best for you).

They look cool. They come with different designs.

If you know how to sew, then you can make your own.

They look cool. They look cool. They look cool.

They force you to look at the person’s eyes — the windows to their soul. You learn to smile with your eyes. To twinkle. To laugh. To communicate with just a look.

Various societies have worn face coverings for ages.

Women have worn scarves for ages. They’re beautiful, mysterious.

Ninjas wear masks. And that is cool.

Teaching Our Children to Wear Masks
And if you have children, it may be a good idea to start getting them used to wearing them now before school starts back in September.

Start with one minute or however long/short they can tolerate it. High-five them for that accomplishment. Then progressively add one or more minutes everyday, stopping as soon as they show signs of discomfort. Congratulate them.

Keep doing that until they can wear it comfortably for a couple of hours.

This is the strategy teachers use to teach kids to learn to read quietly by themselves without interrupting the rest of the class. It’s all positive, congratulatory, incremental, scaffolding steps.

Eventually, teach them proper handling and disposal (into a ziploc bag), and how to switch to a new one should the currect one get soiled or wet.

This is the greatest service you can render your kid right now in this pandemic: Teach them to quietly wear their mask all day at school without feeling uncomfortable or irritated. Otherwise, they will be unable to concentrate and learn at school, and be a danger to themselves (and to your family), to other kids (and their parents), and to their teachers (and their families). If they can’t do that, then they will most probably be asked to stay home and do distance learning.

Quality
There are various recommendations out there about what to look for in a cloth mask.
– 3 layers
– One of the layer must be a water-resistant fabric.
– A sleeve to allow the insertion of a filter.

You won’t get masks that meet all three criteria.

I use instead the “blow out the flame test.” The test is administered as follows: While wearing the mask, try to blow out the flame from a lighter (or candle or match). If you can easily do that, it means the mask is not preventing virus from your mouth or nose easily going through the mask and into the air, and neither will it prevent virus from outside to easily get through the mask to you. I don’t know if this test is scientifically valid or not, but it sorts of make common sense. Wearing masks that fail this test may not give you any protection.

The masks I will list below all passed the “blow out the flame test.” (Unless they changed the way they are constructed since I used them.)

Another test you may use is to put the mask up against a bright light. If the fabric allows for a substantial amount of light to shine through, it’s probably going to allow tiny viral particles through, as well.

Straps
Which mask is best for you? You want to find one that snugly fits your face, allows you to breathe well, and that you can wear comfortably for a long period of time.

There are basically two types of straps: Masks are held in place either by a band around each ear, or tied behind your neck and head.

While the easier of the two types is the one with (elastic) bands around the ears, you need to factor in that, if you plan to wear a mask for long periods of time, the band can in the long run rub against the back of the ears and cause some discomfort. They may also not fit properly, being too tight or too loose. However, it is easier for young children to wear by themselves.

The type that you have to tie behind your neck and head is more comfortable to wear, allowing you to tighten it for a preferred fit, but takes longer to tie — and young children may find them difficult to tie by themselves.

I ordered several types, from different companies, and tried wearing them for several hours at a time. Some are more comfortable than others. Since we all have different preferences, I cannot recommend one over the other. What I can recommend is that you place a small order first and try them out. If you like them, then you can order more. By now, everyone in my family knows which type he or she prefers, and so we have ordered more masks based on everyone’s preference. You also will have to find your own preference.

Disclaimers
I am not a medical expert and am simply sharing links to masks I have bought and tried, and liked. (Those masks I ordered, tried and did not like — or that failed the flame and light test — I have not listed.) That does not mean they are necessarily the best out there, or that there are not other mask manufacturers that are as good or even better.

I cannot vouch for the construction: If it says 3-ply or waterproof or antimicrobial, I did not verify that it was so.

Some of these sites sell different models. I have not tried all the models. I can only report on the ones I tried.

You must do your own research and take responsibility for your own decisions.

Most of these sites have a no-refund policy, so buy at your own risk.

If you are in Canada and order from the US, note that you will have to pay pretty hefty customs fees. On the day the masks will arrive, you will get an email to pay the customs fees online, and then you’ll get delivery that same day.

Staples.ca (Canada)
Staples.ca sell these masks online only. I like them, but note that the ear straps are not elasticized, so if they do not fit you perfectly, they can be too loose or too tight. White only. Free shipping in Canada.
Reference Labs Reusable Triple Layered Cloth Face Mask, Large, White, 10 Pack, CAD $44.99
Reference Labs Reusable Triple Layered Cloth Face Mask, Medium, White, 10 Pack, CAD $44.99
Reference Labs Reusable Triple Layered Cloth Face Mask, Small, White, 10 Pack, CAD $44.99

Mercedes Morin (Canada)
They come in four different sizes: L, M, S, XS. Elastic ear straps. CAD $11.50 shipping.
https://www.mercedesmorin.com/masques, CAD $10 each

Take Care (Canada)
Only adult size, but straps tie behind neck and head for a preferred fit. CAD $10 shipping.
Black Mask Bundle, CAD $37.50/3 masks
Grey Mask Bundle, CAD $37.50/3 masks
Blue Mask Bundle, CAD $37.50/3 masks
Pink Mask Bundle, CAD $37.50/3 masks

Nuage Designs (US)
Elastic ear straps have a pearl that makes it adjustable for a preferred fit.
Face mask with Adjustable Ear Straps and Filter Pocket – 3 pack, USD $28

Los Angeles Apparel (US)
These have an adjustable nose that you can form to the contours of your face and 2 straps to be worn around the head and neck that can be tied and tightened to preferred fit. Free shipping on orders over US $75 within the US, or over US $120 internationally.
FACEMASK3 UNISEX – 3-Pack Cotton Mask, CAD $42 or USD $30

There are lots more options available, especially for little children. Since I have not tested them, I will not list them, but you can do a quick search on the Internet and find reputable companies, like Levi’s and Disney.