​Face Masks Versus Face Shields: Which Is Right For Me?

Posted by Source Ortho on 24th Aug 2020

​Face Masks Versus Face Shields: Which Is Right For Me?

Face Mask or Face Shield?

By now, we are all pretty comfortable with the idea of wearing face masks and have probably found the type of mask we prefer most. However, there is a new kid on the block that you may not have heard of: The Face Shield. While a face shield offers similar protection to 3ply, kn95, or cloth facial coverings, it differs in its level of protection by also providing additional coverage over your nose and eyes. As we know, making sure we protect all parts of our face and eyes is a crucial step in protecting ourselves and others from coronavirus.

What you need to know about Face Shields

So what is a face shield? A face shield is a form of facial covering made of a clear, durable plastic that covers the entire face. Typically, they will wrap around the face extending to the around to the ears, essentially providing a shield of protection against illness or debris. Face shields have been growing in popularity during the COVID 19 pandemic as an alternative to traditional face masks.

When comparing face masks versus face shields, there are pros and cons to both. While there hasn’t been specific studies conducted to measure the exact effectiveness of face shields at preventing the contraction or spread of COVID 19, the use of a Face Shield does present a few benefits over standard face masks. The main benefit being that it covers your entire face, including your eyes which a regular face mask does not do.

The Face Shield Provides and Extra Layer of Protection

Just by looking at a Face Shield, you can immediately tell that it provides more overall protection of the face. Not only does it cover your mouth, but it also covers your entire face, significantly helping to minimize risk of exposure, as well as the likelihood of infecting someone else, especially when worn in addition to a face mask.

Let’s see how face shields compare to face masks in everyday situations:

Touching Your Eyes

The CDC has been advising the public to be mindful of touching your eyes. Although the most common method of contraction is inhaling the virus through the respiratory system, it is also possible to contract via the membranes in your eyes. This means that if you happen to have the virus on your hands and then touch your eyes, you risk infection and vice versa.

Face Mask: A face mask is designed strictly to cover your mouth. There are many different options when it comes to masks (KN95, N95, 3Ply, Cloth mask, etc.) that provide different levels of protection. However, none of these options provide coverage above the nose which leaves your eyes exposed.

Face Shield: A face shield is designed to do just that, shield your face! This means that in addition to covering your nose and mouth, it also provides an added layer of protection over your eyes.

Touching Your Face

Face Mask: As we mentioned, while face masks provide exceptional coverage over the nose and mouth, they do not offer any coverage for the rest of your face. Just as you should refrain from touching your nose, mouth, and eyes, you really should aim to not touch your face at all! While a mask will help reduce touching your nose or mouth, it is not going to provide any extra safety for the rest of your face.

Face Shield: Unlike a typical face mask, the face shield provides full coverage of your entire face. Because of this, it offers significant prevention from any face touching, therefore reducing your risk of contracting or spreading illness.

Facial Visibility

Face Masks: As we know, effective face masks such as the KN95, N95, 3Ply, or cloth facial coverings typically cover up to about half of your face, leaving only your eyes exposed. This can lead to issues beyond touching your eyes, especially when it comes to communication. Masks can make it difficult to understand speech and read facial expressions. This can become an issue when working in professions such as teaching or working with the hearing impared who rely heavily on reading lips and understanding facial expressions.

Face Shields: Contrary to typical face masks, since a face shield is made of clear plastic, it does not obstruct your face at all. Making it a great option for teachers, or anyone working in a customer facing occupation where facial expressions and visibility play an important role in your job and communication with others.

Overall Comfort

Face Masks: One of the major benefits to certain types of face masks, specifically the KN95, is that they can offer a tighter fit to help reduce leakage around the edges. However, due to their tighter fit they can be uncomfortable for some to wear and may not offer a true universal fit. This can be especially true for those with beards or if you happen to have a smaller or larger than average size face.

Face Shields: There are a few different styles of face shields. Some fit similar to a headband with the shield coming down, while others are positioned to sit comfortably around the chest and neck with the shield extending up over the face. We have found that the latter option tends to be more comfortable to be worn for longer periods of time. This one also has an easy breakaway feature and can be feasibly adjusted down away from the face.


Face Masks: Although it has been proven that face masks do not lower oxygen levels when breathing, they can make breathing feel slightly more difficult and increase the humidity within the mask when worn for long periods of time. This can lead to what is now been coined mascne, as well as overall general discomfort.

Face Shields: Since a face shield sits farther off of your face, it does not affect breathing the way a face mask might. Although some people have found that it can cause a slight glare, it is generally very comfortable to wear and allows for a much greater ease of breath.

Which Facial Covering Is Right For Me?

When trying to decide between a face mask, face shield, or any other type of face covering, it is important to consider how the pros and cons of each will affect you directly. When it comes down to making your choice, we would ultimately recommend erring on the side of caution here and opting for both for the optimal protection of both you, your loved ones, and those around you.

Source Ortho Has You Covered!

Whether you decide to go with a face mask, face shield, or both, we’ve got you covered! With our extensive list of personal protective equipment for sale, you can feel safe knowing that you are doing your part to help protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID 19.