The dos and don'ts of buying and wearing a face mask

Face coverings are essential for the new normal and one of the ways we can help protect our neighbors.

Look online and you'll see Etsy and Instagram overflowing with them.

Many fashion brands that are customizing them are touting the comfort and efficacy of the masks for sale.

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The CDC is advising all masks should allow for breathing without restriction, fit snugly but comfortably and include multiple layers of fabric.

So what does that look like?

"Tightly woven cotton cloth. Something approximately the weave of a bandana," said UNC-Chapel Hill microbiologist Rachel Noble. "Certainly not a looser weave like the material or knit a sweater is made out of. The holes in that type of material are much too large."

But anything too thick can restrict breathing.

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The sweet spot is to find one that's comfortable and breathable enough that you're not taking it on and off or touching your face.

Soft ear loops or adjustable bands can make a big difference.

"It is not always one size fits all," Noble said.

Many come with a bendable wire over the nose.

"Some of the best things that you can do are make sure that the mask fits closely on your face," Noble said. "If the mask is fitting improperly, air is actually being funneled downward and inward in the sides of the mask directly into the nostrils and into the nasal passages and that is exactly what we don't want."

Now for some don'ts.

Noble says don't go more than a day or two without cleaning your mask. The washing machine and a thorough dry are key.

And while you might opt for something cute like sequins or glitter, experts don't recommend those as they can make the fabric more porous and can harbor more bacteria than cloth.

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It can also be itchy, causing you to touch your face more.
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