Coronavirus and Facial Hair: What You Need to Know

Coronavirus and Facial Hair: What You Need to Know
April 7, 2020 Iris Horowitz

The coronavirus pandemic has us adopting some new hygiene habits: 20-second-minimum hand washing, restrictions on face touching and hand shaking, and grocery wipe-down and disinfection upon arrival.

So what about your grooming routine? Is your facial hair making you more susceptible to catching coronavirus?

The short answer is no. But there are a few things you should know about keeping yourself clean and safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Beards, Mustaches, and everything in between: How does facial hair impact your susceptibility to catching coronavirus?

If you are a health care worker, you DO need to adopt one of these CDC-approved facial hair styles to make sure you have a tight seal with a N95 respirator face mask.

Bless the CDC for inadvertently producing perhaps the most nuanced beard style infographic to ever have existed.

Do you have a Zappa, Zorro, Walrus, Handlebar, or Chevron mustache? You’re in the clear. How about a Lampshade, Toothbrush, Pencil, Soul Patch, or Side Whiskers ‘stache? You’re also good. Now, if you let that ‘stache extend outward and you give yourself something more beard-like such as a Chin Curtain, Hulihee, Mutton Chops, a Van Dyke, Imperial, Garibaldi, Bandholz, Ducktail, Verdi, French Fork, Long Stubble, OR just a full-blown Full Beard, you do NOT qualify for a correct seal in your N95 respirator mask and need to shave it down to a more acceptable style. These are the 100% legit guidelines from the CDC’s 2017 graphic “Facial Hairstyles and Filtering Facepiece Respirators.”

If you’re NOT a health care worker, you can leave your facial hair as is! Just keep it clean.

Maybe you’ve heard the rumor that you should shave your beard or facial hair to protect yourself against COVID-19. Well, there’s no scientific evidence to back that up, as explored here in this Vox article about the history of beards and pandemics. Sure, beards harbor bacteria, but clean-shaven faces do too. Like, a lot of bacteria. I mean colonies of microscopic germ families living their lives on your precious face. The incidence of hair does not attract any more bacteria than a clean-shaven face, nor has it been shown to attract water droplets from the air any more than a hairless face.

You’ll want to keep your face clean, though, in addition to getting used to not touching it. A note about keeping your face clean…

You do NOT need any kind of special disinfectant or “antibacterial” soap to really, truly clean your face (or hands)

Real, classic, age-old soap acts like a mother****** in shredding up the virus. Hands or face dry? Try a natural, hot-processed soap filled with natural glycerin to keep your skin clean and hydrated. Be sure to scrub your face with your fingertips to help remove dead skin cells and prevent ingrown hairs.

Need some tips for a proper beard care routine? Check out our blog on caring for your beard.

Facial Hair and Cloth Masks

The CDC now recommends people wear cloth masks in public to further prevent the spread of COVID-19. There is growing evidence that the virus is being spread by asymptomatic carriers, as well as by infected folks who are in a 48-hour incubation period before their symptoms appear. These cloth masks will help virus-carriers keep their germs to themselves.

(Please note that N95 respirator masks should be reserved for health care workers only. We highly recommend you resist the urge to purchase them if you are not a medical worker, and if you have your own supply, consider donating them to hospitals in need.)

Cloth masks are easy to make yourself (you need literally zero craft skills to make this one) and there are currently no recommendations from the CDC for altering facial hair to increase the efficacy of cloth masks.

Live and Let Beard

We hope this guide helps you find a healthy balance between staying safe and keeping your whiskers stylish.

Have a prickly question about facial hair and COVID-19? Let us know in the comments. 

Comments (2)

  1. Vicente 2 months ago

    Very useful and informative article. Thanks.

    • The Mod Cabin 2 months ago

      Hi, Vincente. Thanks for reading. Glad you found it helpful!

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