It's hard not to feel sympathy for children wearing masks in the summer heat. Young kids may struggle to understand why they need to wear a mask and keep it on, especially when it gets uncomfortable and sweaty.
But with COVID-19 cases rising in most states this summer, mamas everywhere are trying their best to stay safe and follow mask-wearing guidelines, even when it's hot.
Protect yourself and your family with these expert tips for staying cool in a mask this summer.
Wear a wide-brimmed hat.
On sunny, hot and humid summer days, experts suggest wearing a wide-brimmed hat can help mamas and kids alike stay cool.
Especially if you have to run errands outside or plan on staying outdoors for a while, a wide-brimmed hat will shade your face from direct sun, keeping you cool and protected—and keeping your mask from absorbing additional heat.
Choose the right mask.
Although masks are recommended by experts and required in most places to help stop the spread of COVID-19, that doesn't mean every mask works the same. Choosing the right mask, one that is comfortable and made with breathable fibers, can make a big difference in keeping the family cool this summer.
Xenia Chen, the founder of Threads, a Toronto based tights company that has switched to making masks in the wake of the pandemic, suggests wearing masks made of lighter colored material. "Black absorbs heat and can make you hotter faster," Chen notes. As one news program recently demonstrated, the difference in temperature between a dark fabric mask and a light-colored mask can be as much as ten degrees.
Chen also suggests looking for a mask with plenty of room between the nose and mouth. A mask that is constructed of tented fabric over the face, rather than a mask that fits closely to the face, will offer better ventilation on hot days. "We have designed our masks with extra fabric in the middle so it gives more space to talk and breathe," Chen says.
As Dr. David Aranoff, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, tells NBC News, wearing a face shield can be an effective alternative to wearing a mask.
"These are inexpensive, can be washed easily and reused," Dr. Aranoff said. "Since face shields reach from the forehead to below the chin and around to cover the ears, they can be more comfortable than masks for some."
Limit time spent outdoors when it's very hot.
On very hot days, heat stroke and heat exhaustion are serious concerns for adults and kids. Especially for those with underlying health conditions and respiratory problems, time spent outdoors should be carefully planned.
Dr. Matthew Levy, the associate professor of emergency medicine at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine, stresses the importance of being smart about how you spend time outdoors in a mask.
"The same precautions we would ask people who are at risk for heat illness to take, we would recommend here, too," he noted, like going out later when it's cooler.
To keep you and the kids safe, strategizing in advance which days are best for outdoor play is an easy way to beat the heat while wearing a mask. Make regular checks of the forecast part of your planning routine and schedule errands and outdoor play for cooler morning hours.
Skip makeup + wear lightweight sunscreen on your face.
The heat can already be a deterrent for wearing makeup, but with the addition of a mask, things can get especially messy. Once sweat mixes with your makeup under your mask, you're looking at a recipe for "maskne" and skin irritation.
As Carrie Kovarik, a dermatology professor at the University of Pennsylvania tells AARP magazine, "You don't have the ability to have sweat evaporate when you have the mask on. It all sits there and collects." Instead, apply sunscreen and water-based moisturizer to your face to protect against sunburn and potential skin irritation.
Be sure to bring extra masks along on your next trip outside: If your mask or your child's mask gets sweaty, replace it with a clean, dry one.
Drinking a lot of water in the summer is essential—and it's especially important for staying cool while wearing a mask.
Symptoms of intense exposure to heat like dizziness and fatigue can be heightened when not properly hydrated while wearing a face covering.
Moms should keep reusable water bottles handy to make sure the family is staying hydrated while outdoors—fill your water bottles with ice cubes to keep them extra cold. Another tip is to pack along coolants like ice packs for quick relief from the heat. Placing a cold pack, cold washcloth, or even a frozen teething ring on your child's head for a few minutes when it's hot out is a quick mom hack to combat the heat.