It’s time to bring back the lipstick!

By Emily Cieslak
October 30, 2020
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While face masks are crucial in preventing the spread of COVID-19, they’ve added a barrier to verbal communication. Who else has struggled to order drinks at their coffee shop or understand their waiter list off today’s specials?

For individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, opaque cloth face masks make it especially difficult to communicate by covering the mouth and lower portion of the face, hiding lips and facial expressions. 

“You cut out a lot of the grammar when you cover half of the face, especially the lips,” says Amanda O’Hearn, PhD, an associate professor of psychiatry and director of the Deaf Wellness Center at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Clinical Services. “My clients have a really hard time communicating when most people are wearing masks. It’s also a bit dehumanizing; you don’t know if people are smiling or are friendly.”

Marina Fanshteyn, cofounder and executive director at the Deaf Wellness and Recreation Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., says she often has to pull down her cloth mask to expose her face while using American Sign Language, defeating the purpose of the mask. 

Thankfully, more brands are creating partially or fully transparent face masks. By still covering the nose and mouth, these masks with clear windows create a physical barrier from particles while allowing people to read lips and facial expressions. For anyone that is an educator or works in an environment where they’re constantly communicating with others, clear masks are a game changer.

Worried about the mask fogging up? Plenty of transparent masks are made with anti-fog technology. If yours isn’t, you can coat it with anti-fog treatment or simply wash the inside of the clear plastic panel with dish detergent and water, then let it air dry or wipe with a cloth to prevent fogging. And for the best protection, ensure the plastic is tightly sewn to any fabric and that the mask covers all your bases—nose, mouth, and a snug fit under the chin.

Fanshteyn and O’Hearn hope more people consider wearing clear face masks, not just for their own needs, but for the communication needs of everyone. Check out these nine styles below and bring your smile out of hiding without sacrificing safety.

Credit: etsy.com

1

$13, etsy.com

These cotton masks give you the best of both worlds—a delicate floral print and a transparent pane for clear communication. The reusable mask uses PET anti-fog material and adjustable ear loops. Best of all, you can nab it with free shipping on Etsy.

Credit: buy.theclearmask.com

2

$67 for 24, buy.theclearmask.com

ClearMask’s deaf co-founder, Allysa Dittmar, set out to design a mask that would make surgical interactions better for all individuals. Now the clear design is available for non-medical purposes. The single-use masks are sold in sets of 24, and you can choose either the classic tie-on or EZ-Adjuster based on what’s more comfortable for you.

Credit: etsy.com

3

$19, etsy.com

Leave it to Los Angeles to create a mask that is both see-through and stylish. Sachika fuses fashion and function with transparent designs that range from sparkly to incandescent. The brand also offers simple styles like this one with a nose wire or without that are favorites among ASL users.

Credit: rafinova.com

4

$16, rafinova.com

Designed by a speech language pathologist, these colorful masks from Rafi Nova accommodate hearing aids or cochlear implants. Be sure to check out their limited edition collaboration with Millicent Simmonds. The A Quiet Place actress painted the floral print herself, and 100 percent of the mask’s profits benefit Deaf Women of Color and Texas Hands and Voices.

RELATED:?How to Clean Your Face Mask the Right Way, According to Experts

Credit: etsy.com

5

$15, etsy.com

If you want a transparent mask with no fuss or frills, SomoFinds offers a minimalistic option in addition to colorful versions. Available in black or white trim, this simplistic design pairs with any outfit and leaves most of your face on display. Customers rave that the adjustable ear loops make the mask super comfortable to wear as well.

Credit: amazon.com

6

$24, amazon.com

This mask is a favorite on Amazon among teachers who need to power through the work day. Thanks to its adjustable buckles on the ear straps and anti-fog technology, it doesn’t ride down or fog up. Available in solid colors or prints, this style is a great addition to your mask collection, whether you’re leading a group of students or trying to get the barista to understand your order.

Credit: etsy.com

7

$4, etsy.com

For only $4, you can get this highly reviewed face mask from Etsy. But hurry—this mask is so popular it’s selling out quickly!

Credit: amazon.com

8

from $33 for 10, amazon.com

If you want a mask with personality, look no further than this bundle from Amazon. You’ll get 10 masks in different vibrant patterns, allowing you to switch up your style each day of the week and then some.

Credit: amazon.com

9

from $23, amazon.com

Want a mask so comfortable, you don’t even realize it’s on? According to Amazon reviewers, these floral masks are so lightweight, teachers often forget they have them on when they get in their car after the school day. The combination of light and dark florals are pretty and versatile too.

RELATED: I Finally Found a Face Mask That’s Breathable Enough to Wear While Working Out

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